Reporters Without Borders today deplored the government’s closure of the privately-owned radio station Nomade FM as "a serious threat to press freedom and the growth of independent and diverse expression in the region."
The station, which broadcasts around Agadez, 1,000 km northeast of the capital, Niamey, was shut down on 11 February for "inciting rebellion" after programme director Ismaghil Iltinin invited two former anti-government rebels onto a local-language talk show on 5 February to discuss "peace, security and development" in Northern Niger.
They criticised the government for not applying the peace agreement it had signed, especially concerning reintegration of the rebels into mainstream society.
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard called on the authorities to allow the station to reopen at once so the journalists could once more do their job freely.
The head of the station, Serge Hilbron, said Agadez police came to close it down and showed a telegram signed by the interior minister, who reportedly acted on the orders of President Mamadou Tandja.
Abdoulaye Tiemogo, editor of the weekly Le Canard Echainée, is due to be released from prison on 20 February at the end of an eight-month sentence for libelling Prime Minister Hama Amadou, who sued him on 18 June last year after three articles strongly criticised him for trying to corrupt the head of parliament so he could keep his post as prime minister.