Niger - Government suspends RFI over day of solidarity with imprisoned correspondent, but leaves problem unresolved

    MONTREAL, March 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders regrets
yesterday's decision by the Higher Council for Communication (CSC) to suspend
local FM retransmission of the French public radio station Radio France
Internationale (RFI) for three months for "discrediting" Niger's institutions
by holding a day of solidarity with its imprisoned correspondent, Moussa Kaka,
on 10 March.
    "Instead of dealing with problem, the government has again targeted the
messenger who refers to it," the press freedom organisation said. "It responds
to persuasive attempts with inflexibility, and to international campaigns with
repression. Its rigidity in the face of the need to release Kaka is leading
nowhere. Depriving the public of RFI does not solve the problem. The
government needs to understand that it is going down the wrong road and is
just making things worse."
    CSC president Daouda Diallo yesterday announced that all of RFI's FM
broadcast permits were suspended for three months for two reasons. One was
"discrediting the institutions of the republic during broadcasts on 10 March
dedicated to Moussa Kaka's arrest" and the other was "systematically excluding
calls from Niamey during the broadcast."
    The CSC did not elaborate on the second reason, but Agence France-Presse
said the ministers of foreign affairs and communications had tried in vain to
express their views during the discussions about Kaka's arrest that were
broadcast by RFI.
    RFI was last suspended in Niger on 19 July 2007, when the CSC stopped its
FM broadcasts for a month for "biased and partisan coverage" of a rebellion in
the north of the country by the Tuaregs of the Niger People's Movement for
Justice (MNJ).
    The move was seen at the time as a warning to Kaka, the Niger
correspondent of both RFI and Reporters Without Borders. He was arrested two
months later, on 20 September, on a charge of "complicity in an attack on
state authority."

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)

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