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Central African Republic12 December 2002

Director of private daily "Le Citoyen" threatened with imminent arrest

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the recent threats against Maka Gbossokotto, director of the private daily "Le Citoyen", in the capital, Bangui. According to information collected by the organisation, the journalist may be arrested in the coming days. Gbossokotto has been targeted by the authorities for the past several weeks, as "Le Citoyen" has repeatedly denounced the actions of Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Congolese troops. The troops are in the country to support President Ange-Félix Patassé, following the attempted coup d’état on 25 October 2002. In the last few days, the "Le Citoyen" director has been threatened repeatedly, and an unidentified official has told Gbossokotto that his "arrest is imminent."

Reporters Without Borders has urged the Central African Republic authorities to guarantee the safety of all journalists in the country and ensure that press freedom is respected. The organisation believes that Gbossokotto did nothing more than exercise his right to inform the public, and calls on the government to be especially attentive to the respect of journalists’ rights.

On 19 November, Reporters Without Borders published an assessment of the press freedom situation in the country since the events of 25 October. Two international radio stations have been censored, a French journalist was expelled without explanation from the airport in Bangui, and several local journalists have been threatened. The organisation has previously asked the authorities to see to it that local journalists who ask for better protection be provided with it.

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