Reporters Without Borders protested today against the closure of 10 independent radio stations in Niger for supposedly bureaucratic reasons and called for harassment of the country’s media to stop.
The state communications council, the CSC, told the stations to cease broadcasting on 25 September, but all said they would defy the order and stay on the air.
Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard called on the Niger government to immediately lift the suspensions, release Ibrahim Souley, editor of the weekly L’Enquêteur, who has been in jail since 13 September, and reaffirm its commitment to press freedom.
The CSC cancelled the broadcasting licences of the 10 privately-owned stations, saying they were improperly issued. The CSC’s current members are challenging decisions taken by their predecessors. Among the stations affected are Horizon FM, Sahara FM, Saraounia FM and Radio Madiana.
Souley was arrested on 13 September and jailed in Niamey prison three days later. The state prosecutor had complained of an article in issue 169 of the paper accusing the government of contributing to the sudden wealth of local businessman Djibo Zakou. It reported that business people from eastern Niger were angry that Zakou, who comes from the western part of the country, had got "juicy contracts."