Burundi's state-funded communications watchdog, commonly known as CNC, has said it will not push for the re-opening of the popular Radio Publique Africaine (RPA).

Burundi's media was among the first casualties of violence that has rocked the country since end of April 2015. The RPA, an independent radio that was burned down in the aftermath of the 13 May failed coup d'etat, when numerous media outlets were closed by force and accused of being accomplices to the putschists, except for the state-run radio station, RTNB.

Local journalists went into hiding or into exile as they feared they were on an alleged hit-list, others were simply forcibly disappeared. Those who stayed turned to social media to spread information, and went underground. Several popular musicians fled the country.

On 13 February, on the national day of the radio, the government-approved communications regulator was expected to review licencing of a number of local radios, which legitimacy came under threat since the beginning of the crisis.

"Certain radios could have chances of being re-opened, others not because they still operate illegally," the RTNB reported on Monday morning, before adding: "The CNC is not ready to support the reopening of RPA radio [as] is has exceeded the limits in the dirtying of the country."

The RPA has long been viewed as critical of the government, because it has broadcast sensitive information including detailed accounts of alleged human rights abuses.

Government officials say media bans were intended to ensure the overall volatile security situation remained remains stable.

In December, President Nkurunziza told reporters: "You can use money, media (...) This too will fail because people see everything and they know the truth," after claiming that opposition supporters spread defiance messages through the media.

Burundi's 18 months' bloody crisis

Burundi's history, before and after independence in 1962 has been marked by repeated cycles of intense violence, including between ethnic communities – Hutu, Tutsi and Twa.

Burundi's current crisis has killed up to 2,000 people and pits supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza against those who say his re-election in July 2015 for a third term violated the constitution.

After a failed coup in May 2015, the government, both in rhetoric and in practice, began to associate mostly civilians demonstrators with the military coup leaders, and intensified its crackdown on anyone opposed to the president or the ruling CNDD-FDD party or suspected of participating in demonstrations.

The security forces conducted frequent violent cordon and search operations in so-called "opposition neighbourhoods" of Bujumbura (Musaga, Ngagara, Kanyosha, and Nyakabiga) to track down demonstrators.

In reprisals, armed groups have engaged in human rights abuses such as assassinations of government officials and throwing grenades into public areas, killing civilians.

As of 13 February 2017, more than 360,000 Burundians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.