Posted by: africanpressorganization | 1 July 2009

Niger / Radio and TV group suspended for broadcasting opposition call to the people





Niger / Radio and TV group suspended for broadcasting opposition call to the people



NIAMEY, Niger, July 1, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the order issued unilaterally yesterday by the head of the High Council for Communication (CSC), Daouda Diallo, suspending the operations of the Dounia radio and TV group “until further notice” for broadcasting an opposition coalition’s call to resist a presidential bid to amend the constitution.


“People in Niger are outraged by this biased and unfair decision,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The head of the CSC is clearly acting on the orders of the country’s highest authorities, discrediting this regulatory body and exposing the lack of independence of many of its members.”


The press freedom organisation added: “It is astonishing that only the Dounia group has been suspended although all the privately-owned media broadcast the same call. It shows yet again how the authorities have hounded this media group. We urge the head of the CSC to reverse this decision and to allow Dounia to resume operations without preconditions.”


The CSC directive ordering Dounia to suspend activities “until further notice” was received by the group’s director general, Abibou Garba. The order, a copy of which has been given to Reporters Without Borders, is signed by Diallo. Six of the CSC’s 11 permanent members immediately disowned it, saying they were not consulted and that “the principle of shared decision-making was not respected.”


The Dounia group is accused of “calling for an insurrection by the defence and security forces” because – like all the local radio and TV stations – it broadcast a statement by the opposition coalition known as the Front for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) on 27 June urging the population to block President Mamadou Tandja’s attempt to hold a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for a third term.


The FDD statement called on the country’s citizens “to mobilise using all legal means to thwart this attempt to destroy the rule of law and democracy.” It also called on the security forces “to refuse to obey the orders of a man who deliberately chose to violate the constitution and who has now lost all political and moral legitimacy.”


Tension is mounting in Niger. Yesterday the president dissolved the constitutional court, which rejected his referendum project three times. Three days before that, he granted himself “exceptional powers” under article 53 of the constitution, allowing him to govern by decree. On 23 May, he dissolved the national assembly.



Reporters without Borders (RSF)


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