The Liberian police shut down a radio station on Thursday for criticizing President George Weah, accusing it of inciting violence, and used tear gas to disperse people protesting against the move.
The culprit radio station, Roots FM, owned by Henry Costa, is one of the leaders of a group that organised a large anti-government street protest on June 17, paralysing several areas of the seaside capital Monrovia.
Costa is a fierce critic of Weah, a former international football star who became president of the country in January last year.
Heavily armed police riot units ringed the radio station building on Thursday morning, making it impossible for workers to move in and out.
They also fired tear gas on the station’s supporters gathered outside.
Costa, who is in the United States from where he usually produces a show for his radio station in Liberia, was defiant.
“It is indeed a very sad day, but I can assure you that we will never be silenced,” Costa told AFP in a telephone interview.
Liberia’s solicitor general said the station was blackmailing people and instigating violence.
“They have begun criminal acts of extortion and blackmail. They use their media to spread inflammatory messages against Liberian citizens, and engage in incitement.
“Beginning today there will be no public demonstration that is not … sanctioned by the government of Liberia,” Cyrinus Cephus told a press conference.
The Press Union of Liberia last week denounced Roots FM and Freedom FM, another radio that is owned by a government official, for “always insulting people on radio.
“That is not journalism. You cannot ask people to give you money or you talk bad about them. That is destroying the image of good journalism in Liberia. I call on the government to take action against Roots FM and Freedom FM,” its president Charles Coffey said.