Lome, Togo -- The authorities in Togo have shut down four private FM radio stations and a TV station in Lomé in what appears to be a new clampdown on free expression.
The stations include Nana FM, Radio Nostalgie, Kanal FM, Radio Lumiere,all based in Aneho,a few kilometres from Lomé, and TV 7.
Officials of Togo's High Audiovisual and Communication Authority attributed the closures to "fiscal reasons"and this was corroborated by Jacques Djakouti, the President of the Union of Liberal Radios and Television (URATEL) when he told the media that the radio stations were officially closed down for failure to pay their annual subscriptions of 750,000 CFA.
But the Director of Nana FM,Peter Dogbe, denied that his station was closed down because of indebtedness, explaining that the station was ordered to close down by Togo's High Audiovisual and Communication Authority.
"We were in debt but we managed to pay our arrears last Friday," he said, adding that he was surprised that after the payments had been made, officials from the Authority alleged that "we were using Nana FM to promote ethnic division and hatred".
He said that they also accused the radio station of incitement of the population to insurrection and civil disobedience against the Togo government.
The authorities said Radio Lumiere had been used by Harry Olympio, the leader of the smaller Rally for the Support of Democracy and Development (RSDD) party, to incite the population against the installation of Faure Gnassingbe as the President of Togo.