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Guinea9 December 2004

Suspension order against newspaper lifted

On 8 December 2004, the National Communications Board (Conseil national de la communication, CNC), Guinea’s media regulatory body, announced the lifting of a suspension order against "Le Quotidien" newspaper. The paper was suspended "indefinitely" more than three weeks ago and its editorial team is experiencing serious financial difficulties as a result of the forced closure.

"We applaud this decision, as late as it is," said RSF. "We maintain that Siaka Kouyaté, the [paper’s] publication director and author of the offending article [that resulted in the suspension], did not violate any rules of journalistic conduct and that the newspaper did not deserve such a heavy penalty. ’Le Quotidien’ must be allowed to resume publishing without delay. We hope that there will be no further obstacles to its publication and distribution," RSF concluded.

Following international pressure, threatening phone calls to Kouyaté stopped a few days after the paper’s suspension. But Kouyaté and "Le Quotidien"’s entire editorial team found themselves and their families under serious financial strain as a result of the CNC decision.

22.11.2004 Authorities close the country’s sole privately-owned daily

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the "indefinite" closure of Guinea’s only privately-owned daily, Le Quotidien, by the National Communication Council (CNC) since 13 November because of a column headlined, "The country is in bad shape... when will the uprising take place?"

The press freedom organisation also deplored the threatening phone calls which the newspaper’s editor, Siaka Kouyaté, has been receiving for the past week.

"Le Quotidien’s closure is clearly unjustified," Reporters Without Borders said. "Such a radical measure should be a last resort but it was taken without prior warning. The way this affair is developing in fact suggests that an attempt is being made to terrorise Kouyaté and his staff and silence them for good."

The organisation added : "After reading Kouyaté’s article we have concluded that it in no way violates Guinea’s laws or disturbs ’the peace, calm and democracy,’ as the CNC argues. Le Quotidien must be allowed to resume publishing immediately in order to safeguard the diversity of news and information in Guinea."

The column, which ran on the newspaper’s front page on 7 November, was an analysis of Guinea’s social, political and economic situation. It spoke of the country’s poor health and referred to a "national confession." It said: "Everyone realises there is only one solution for such a situation - an uprising. And, quite logically, everyone seems to be waiting for the president to be the first to give the signal."

The article defined this uprising as a "revolt against our bad practices, our bad reflexes and our bad choices," and called for a national reawakening. "The people expect that the chief they have chosen should give the signal for violence, the positive violence that all great nations adopt when the historic moment demands."

Kouyaté learned that his newspaper was to be closed down from a CNC communiqué broadcast on national radio and television that said the column was "very harmful and tendentious" and violated press ethics. Guinea’s news media would not allowed to "turn into subtle and undeclared dispensaries of racism or hate," the statement added.

Kouyaté went to the CNC’s headquarters in attempt to explain, but was turned away. He told Reporters Without Borders that since then he has received "phone calls of a threatening tone that clearly betray a desire to intimidate." He said some of the calls were anonymous and some came from the Directorate for Territorial Surveillance (DST).

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