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Senegal1 August 2003

Journalist receives death threats

Journalist Abdou Latif Coulibaly, author of a recently-published book in which he criticises Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, has been receiving anonymous death threats over the past few days, which he has attributed to members of the president’s political party.

"We regret to note such a shift in Senegal, a country in which press freedom and broader freedom of expression have traditionally been respected. Such extremism is uncalled for, regardless of the nature of the criticisms in the book," Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard said in a letter to President Wade. The organisation also urged the president, who reaffirmed his commitment to freedom of expression, to firmly condemn such excesses, introduce concrete measures to ensure Coulibaly’s safety and launch an investigation to identify and punish those responsible for the threats.

Coulibaly, a journalist with and director of Sud FM, the leading private radio station in the country, wrote a book entitled, "Wade, an opposition figure in power: will political power continue to change hands?", published in July 2003, in which he criticises the president’s administration. The journalist has received a series of death threats and insults via telephone since 28 July, both at home and at his office. The callers have reportedly told him that they would not allow him to "destroy what [they have] built over the past 26 years." On 27 July, President Wade had issued a statement in which he deplored certain contentions published by Coulibaly and said he "had faith in his fellow citizens’ judgement of the matter." On 31 July, the journalist filed a complaint with the state prosecutor for "insults and death threats".

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