(AFP) – Nov 22, 2007
NAIROBI (AFP) — A Somali media panel on Friday asked the country's new Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein to protect press freedom that has been under siege as the government battles insurgents.
The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) appeal came a day after President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed appointed Hussein, a veteran law-enforcement official, and tasked him with restoring stability.
"We plead to Premier Nur Hassan Hussein to be a leader of a government that respects and protects its citizens, including journalists as enshrined in the Transitional Federal Charter," said NUSOJ secretary general Omar Faruk Osman.
"This year has been a terrifying one for Somali media, and journalists are working in dreadfully dangerous conditions," he said in a statement.
Authorities have accused the independent media of fanning conflict in the capital, notably interviewing anti-government elements, broadcasting propaganda and involvement in the insurgency.
Ethiopia, whose forces are fighting alongside government troops in Somalia, said Somali media was awash with propaganda.
Authorities have defied calls by rights groups and foreign nations to relax its heavy-handed clampdown on press freedom, which has been choked by the conflict.
So far this year, at least eight journalists have been killed and dozens others either detained, ambushed or robbed, ranking Somalia the second deadliest country worldwide after Iraq for journalists, press groups say.
Bloody clan conflict and power struggles that intensified after the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre have scuppered many bids to stabilise Somalia.
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