Burkina orders “immediate suspension” of RFI

Censorship or warning? Burkina Faso on Saturday ordered “the immediate suspension and until further notice” of Radio France Internationale (RFI), accusing it in particular of having relayed a “message of intimidation” attributed to a “terrorist leader”, announced Burkinabe government spokesman.

By having relayed this message, RFI “thus contributes to a desperate maneuver by terrorist groups to deter the thousands of Burkinabés mobilized for the defense of the Fatherland”, indicates a press release signed by the spokesperson, Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo.

Earlier this week, the Al-Qaida-affiliated Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) released a video in which one of its leaders in Burkina Faso threatened to attack villages defended by Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP), civilian auxiliaries of the army, which has just recruited 90,000 in three weeks to deal with the resurgence of jihadist attacks.

“False information”

The government also criticizes RFI, French public radio, for having included in its press review on Friday “false information, indicating that: ”The president of the transition, captain Ibrahim Traoré, assures that an attempted coup of State aimed at his power”.

The statement recalls that “on November 3, the government had already expressed its indignation at the tendentious attitude of the journalists of this media (RFI) and their propensity to discredit the struggle in which the people of Burkina Faso are engaged for more freedom and dignity”.

“In view of all the above, the government has decided to immediately suspend until further notice the broadcasting of Radio France Internationale programs throughout the national territory,” he adds. An AFP journalist in Ouagadougou noticed at the end of the afternoon that we could no longer listen to this radio.

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Second country to ban RFI

The government nevertheless wishes “to reaffirm to national and international opinion its attachment to freedom of the press and opinion” and “to the public’s right to information”, but “calls however for respect for the rules and principles enacted in matter in our country.

Burkina, the scene of two military coups in eight months and plagued by jihadist violence since 2015, is the second country in the region to ban RFI this year after Mali, also led by putschist soldiers and hit by the jihadists, in March.

“Nerves are on edge, but muzzling or persecuting the press does not turn lies into truth,” said Newton Ahmed Barry, journalist and former president of the National Electoral Commission (CEN).

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