Radio for Peace, Democracy and Human Rights
A documentation by Dr Hansjoerg Biener
peace radio site
© Dr Hansjoerg Biener
created 0107, updated 0511
Comments and contributions are welcome. Material of this page may be re-printed but a complimentary copy of the publication is expected.
Central African Republic Radio Ndeke-Luka
c/o PNUD
Av. de l'Indépendance, Boite Postale 872,
Bangui, Republique Centrafricaine. 
Telephone ++236 61 06 52, ndekeluka@hotmail.com

international broadcast Winter 2004/05
18.30-19.30 h 11785 kHz 

general information on the radio system
The Central African Republic is one of the world's poorest countries with less than a third of children going to school and life expectancy below 40 years. In the late 1990s the Central African Republic underwent a deep political and economical crisis, which lead to a UN mission to this country. A national reconciliation forum was held in September-October 2003. It also  recommended the revision of the media laws and the decriminalisation of these laws. In March 2004, Communications Minister Parfait Mbay received a revised bill of law on the freedom of press. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Lamine Cisse, handed over the bill, which was drafted by experts in the Ministry of Communications with financial and logistic support from the UN Peace-building Support Office in the CAR (BONUCA). In the annual worldwide index of press freedom published by Reporters Without Borders in October 2004, the Central African Republic was listed as no. 104 of 167 countries surveyed.

About 1 Mio of the 3.5 Mio. population live in the greater Bangui area. Beside the state broadcaster Radiodifusion-Télévision Centrafricaine and Roman Catholic Radio Notre Dame there are also FM relays of international stations Radio France Internationale and Africa No. 1, a commercial short wave and FM broadcaster for the franco-phone Africa. While there is some FM broadcasting in the capital, there is no nation wide FM service in the Central African Republic. For national coverage Radiodifusion-Télévision Centrafricaine has to rely on traditional AM broadcasting as do the international broadcasters mentioned.

Radio Minurca (1998-2000)
With equipment donated by the Danish government the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic set up Radio Minurca (acronym of Mission des Nations Unies en RCA). The station went on the air on July 24, 1998 and concentrated on civic education and the electoral process of upcoming legislative elections.
Radio Minurca started broadcasting on FM in and around the capital Bangui (100.8 MHz, 500 W), and later on short wave, for the whole country (5900/9900 kHz, 20 kW, later 125/1000 W). Most of Radio Minurca 's daytime programmes were produced locally in Bangui, originally in French and then translated for rebroadcast in the local language, Sango. In the evening hours, the station was also using programmes from Radio France Internationale, BBC World Service, health features provided by the Panos Institute in Bamako, and some music features from Radio Netherlands. The station had a staff of six: a manager, three announcer-producers and two technicians.
In the 19 months of its existence, Radio Minurca became the most listened to radio station in Central Africa. Although the station had considerable problems to stay on the air on short wave there were also some international listeners outside the Central African Republic. Radio Minurca went off the air on February 1, 2000, when the United Nations finished its mission in the Central African Republic. The transmitting equipment was transferred to Sierra Leone in support of another UN project, but Radio Minurca staff intended to continue.

Radio Ndeke Luka (2000-)
Radio Ndeke Luka ("bird of luck" in Sango and in Lingala) signed on on March 27, 2000 and was able to pick up the audience of Radio Minurca at least on FM 100.8 MHz. The station now run by the Swiss Hirondelle Foundation under UN-supervision continues to serve as a link between the United Nations, non governmental organizations and the population. According to its charter the station is to transmit impartial, rigorous and professional information on subjects like economical and social development, security, good governance, peace and human rights. Radio Ndeke Luka is also to become a training centre for local journalists.
The mix of own programming, UN-programmes and programmes supplied by major international broadcasters is to provide balanced information on developments and help listeners build up their opinion from different sources. The weekday schedule runs from about 6 to 20:30 h local time and includes news headlines or news magazines on top of the hour. There are daily slots for topical programmes on health and civic education and while the majority of the programmes are in French, these are also prepared in Sango. A programme schedule of April 2001 is available on this site.

Radio Ndeke Luka on short wave (2003-2005)
After some testing in September 2003, Radio Ndeke Luka started a one hour short wave service. Within a few weeks Radio Ndeke Luka received reception reports from other African countries, Europe, North America and Australia. While the original service was via a short wave station in the United Kingdom (Woofferton 15545 kHz, 300 kW, 170°), the programme changed to Al-Dhabbaya in the United Arab Emirates for the winter 2003/04.
The new site also meant that the station was less reported by international listeners. While the back-lobe from Woofferton went into North America, the Al Dhabbaya beam provides secondary reception in South America.
From the Summer season 2004  Radio Ndeke Luka returned to Woofferton-UK.
In Summer 2005 short wave transmissions were ended  for financial reasons.
 
QSL (=greeting cards for international listeners) courtesy by Martin Schoech (clandestineradio.com) Oct. 2003

state-owned Radio Centrafrique in dire straights
In March 2004, Radio Centrafrique's director, Delphine Zouta, warned that the station could be forced to stop broadcasting despite the upcoming elections. Radio Centrafrique was using equipment nearly 50 years old and highly unreliable which finally confined the station to FM in the capital. A story originating from PANA on the French-language website of CentrAfrique Presse (www.centrafrique-presse.com/showarticle.php?articleID=725, dated 12 Oct 2004) mentioned a meeting in Paris in October 2004 to discuss a plan of rescue for Radio Bangui. According to the source, the possibility of renting airtime via Africa No 1, Moyabi was considered, if funds could not be raised for a new transmitter (F.CFA 100 million, about 150.000 EUROs).
In late 2004 short wave listeners noted broadcasts of Radio Centrafrique Bangui relayed via French transmitters: „La Chaine National de Radio Centrafricaine emettent de Bangui“ was heard 17.00-23.00 h UTC on 9590 kHz (Issoudun 500 kW, 156°), although the station continued announcing its own 41 m frequency and FM. Regular observation revealed severe technical problems. The audio quality sent from Bangui is terrible and unstable. Sometimes the transmitter carries RFI instead or signs off earlier than 23.00 UTC.
Observers speculate that the French government wanted to help the state broadcaster ahead of the elections in the Central African Republic on 13 February 2005, because Radio Ndeke Luka was seen as a voice of the opposition.

Coup Leader Takes Early Lead in CAR Presidential Election (13 March 2005)
Voters in the Central African Republic are turning out in very large numbers in post-conflict elections. Coup leader turned interim President Francois Bozize faces 10 challengers in the main presidential poll, while a new parliament is also being selected. A candidate will need more than 50 percent of the vote to win outright in the first round, or  there will be a second round between the top two finishers. The same system applies to the 105 seats in parliament.Because of a late start and long lines, many polling stations in the capital extended voting for several hours. Authorities said several men who were seen handing out fake voting cards had been arrested.
Early results in the presidential election gave coup leader turned Interim-President Francois Bozize the early lead. Mr. Bozize overthrew a largely corrupt, but elected government in March 2003. At the time, General Bozize had said he would only ruleduring a transitional period, but then he changed his mind, saying a lot of work was left to do. Partial results indicate Mr. Bozize did well in Bangui, as well as other southern and western regions. But opposition militants say it is too early to tell. former military ruler (1981-1993) Andre Kolingba seemed to finish a strong second to Mr. Bozize. In third place is former prime minister Martin Ziguele. Both did not vote themselves, because they did not have their own voting cards, since they have been living in exile. The eight other presidential candidates have fared poorly. Toppled President Ange-Felix Patasse, whose two elected terms were marred by corruption, civil strife, and militia activity, was barred from running.
Legislative elections for a new 105-member parliament also took place. Results remain unclear as more than 900 candidates took part in the election that also has a two-round system. No date has been set for the second round. Sunday's voting was marked by high turnout as well as logistical delays. Opposition militants said there had been cheating involving fake voting cards, but international and national monitors said these allegations had not been proven. Observers from the international organization of French-speaking nations were on hand as monitors.
(VoA news 13/14 March 2005 abrigded by Dr. Biener)

CAR Minister apologises for comparing independent radio station to RTLM
The Minister of Communication in the Central African Republic (CAR) has apologised after comparing an independent radio station to the Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) which incited the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The minister in question, Fidèle Ngouandjika, had on October 19 accused the independent Radio Ndeke Luka of being "Radio Mille Collines".
"I apologise. Forgive", said the minister who was faced with a multitude of protests and threats of a law suit by all journalists in Central Africa. Ngouandjika had earlier barred the national radio and television stations from broadcasting a message from the Haut Conseil de la Communication (Communication Council) condemning his statement. The minister who had been the manager for President Francois Bozize's election campaign last year however warned journalists not to take advantage of his apology and "bar my route".
Radio Ndeke Luka is an independent radio station set up by Fondation Hirondelle. It has been broadcasting in local languages since 2000 but had recently stopped nation wide coverage on shortwave for financial reasons. Fondation Hirondelle's leadership had earlier written a protest letter to the prime Minister of the Central African Republic and declared its support for the Central African journalists.
(Fondation Hirondelle via Radio Netherlands Media Network 17.11.2005)
 
 

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