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Mauritania29 December 2003

French fortnightly missing from news stands for the past month

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today that the French fortnightly Afrique Education appears to have been the victim of indirect censorship in Mauritania and called on its Mauritanian distributor to explain its decision to stop distribution.

The distributor, Les Vents du Sud, told French publisher Messageries de la Presse Parisienne (NMPP) in a letter on 27 November that it no longer wanted to receive the fortnightly, which covers educational issues in Africa.

The reasons for the decision could have been purely commercial. But it followed the inclusion of an editorial on Mauritania’s presidential election in the 16-30 November issue which described the regime and its president, Col. Maawiya ould Sid’Ahmed Taya, as "pro-slavery" and called the president "racist."

Afrique Education’s editor, Jean-Paul Tedga, claimed that the ban came straight from the president and that it was prompted by the editorial. "It is a much more subtle form of ban than confiscation by the interior ministry," he said.

This is the first time that a publication has been eliminated in this manner in Mauritania, where the national press has been censored many times this year.

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