HARGEISA, 4 October 2009 (Somalilandpress) – Puntland government’s decision to suspend the reporting duties of VOA stringers in Galkacyo, Garowe and Bosaso is deplorable. In a letter signed by Deputy Minister for Information, Abdishalur Mire Adam, states the three VOA stringers — Nuux Muuse Birjeeb, Maxamed Yaasiin Isxaaq and Cabdiqaadir Maxamed Nuunow — were instructed to abide by the suspension decision from the Ministry of Information.

In another letter jointly signed by the Puntland Security Minster, CabdullaahI Siciid Samatar, and Deputy Information Minster, the reasons for “prohibiting local FM radio stations” from transmitting VOA Somali Service programming are: news fabrication on “ (a) politicians who were detained in Puntland and ( b) a news item on alleged Puntland offices of Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a,” the anti Al Shabab group fighting in middle regions of Somalia.

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Puntland government letters show that no attempt was made to raise the issue with VOA bosses. The VOA has editorial guidelines that guide the work of every VOA journalist. It will not be surprising if one concludes that Puntland government decision is aimed at censoring the work of the Puntland based journalists who may be forced to seek clearance for any stories they wish to file for the news organisations and agencies they work for.

Even if the VOA Somali Service reporters failed to fact-check their sources or allowed themselves to be used as a mouth-piece, the manner in which Puntland government has dealt with VOA stringers shows inability to handle ‘negative’ news coverage about Puntland. Adde Muuse’s administration used to rebut allegations by using a press release. Puntland Government ought to rethink its approach to the media.

Liban Ahmad
E-Mail: Libahm@gmail.com

Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial