Authorities in the breakaway territory of Somaliland on Tuesday closed two private television channels after accusing them of inciting violence, a station manager and a press rights group said.
Police shut down Horyaal 24TV and Eryal TV channels in the capital Hargeisa, Mohamed Osman Mire, the director of Horyaal said.
“The police came around 0700 in the morning and ordered the closure of the two stations, they had a letter signed by the Information Minister Mohamed Muse Diriye,” Mire said.
“In the letter they have stated that the TV stations are accused of inciting conflict in… society, defaming the national armed forces, threatening stability” and creating disunity in Somaliland, he said.
The two channels said they did not understand the charges.
A source in Eryal TV management said they believed the police were not entitled to proceed with the closure because there was no court decision on the matter.
“The arbitrary closure of the television stations is a deliberate assault on freedom of expression and of the media and shows a total disregard for citizens’ fundamental right to receive information,” said National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) General Secretary Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu.
Somaliland, a self-declared republic in northern Somalia, last year arrested several journalists and closed two TV stations covering the territory’s dispute with the neighbouring Somali region of Puntland, rights activists said.
Somaliland has been de facto independent from the rest of Somalia since 1991 but it is not recognised internationally.