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Senegal30 July 2008

Disturbing comments about media by President Wade

Reporters Without Borders is worried about recent comments by President Abdoulaye Wade and certain government ministers and ruling party legislators indicating a desire to step up censorship of the independent press.

“The repeated scathing comments about the independent media can only aggravate the climate of hostility between the press and government,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the Senegalese authorities to respect the work of the media and allow the media regulatory body to do its job.”

In comments during a news programme on state-owned Radio Télévision Sénégalaise (RTS) on 26 July, Farba Senghor, the national secretary of the ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) told party members to boycott pro-opposition media and called on government and public-sector agencies to “suspend all advertising contracts” with such media.

During a visit to Chicago last week to attend a meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists, President Wade referred to two journalists - Boubacar Kalbel Dieng and Kamoyho Thioune - who were beaten by police during a football match last month in Dakar’s Léopold Sédar Senghor stadium. Wade said it was the journalists who provoked the incident.

Asked by CNN reporter Rolin Martin if he was prepared to condemn the beating of the journalists, President Wade replied: “Who is a journalist? They are politicians!” He then went on to claim that most journalists are corrupt.

Reporters Without Borders issued a press release on 26 June condeming police violence against journalists in Senegal.

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