- Guinea's National Communication Council recently announced the "indefinite suspension" of the privately-owned daily newspaper 'Le Quotidien', following the publication of an article entitled, "The country is in bad shape ... when will the uprising take place?" The newspaper's editor has further received threatening phone calls.
'Le Quotidien' editor Siaka Kouyaté cleared the disputed column for the newspaper's 7 November edition, giving it a full front page presentation. The column presented an analysis of Guinea's well-known social, political and economic problems.
It spoke of the country's difficulties and called for a "national acknowledgement" of the situation. "Everyone realises there is only one solution for such a situation - an uprising. And, quite logically, everyone seems to be waiting for the President to be the first to give the signal," the newspaper said.
The article defined the "uprising" as a "revolt against our bad practices, our bad reflexes and our bad choices," and called for a "national reawakening," while adding, "The people expect that the chief they have chosen should give the signal for violence, the positive violence that all great nations adopt when the historic moment demands it."
Mr Kouyaté only learned of his newspaper's closure via a statement by the Conseil national de la communication (CNC) that aired on national radio and television stations. The CNC statement alleged that that the article was "very harmful and tendentious" and "violated press ethics."
Guinea's news media outlets would "not be allowed to turn into subtle and undeclared dispensaries of racism or hate," the statement added. The CNC did not elaborate on how the 'Le Quotidien' was promoting "racism or hate." 'Le Quotidien' is Guinea's only privately-owned daily.
Editor Kouyaté went to the CNC's Conakry headquarters in an attempt to explain, but was turned away. He told the Paris-based media watchdogs Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) that he had since received "phone calls of a threatening tone that clearly betray a desire to intimidate."
The editor said some of the calls were anonymous, while others came from Guinea's government counter-espionage services (Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire, DST). RSF in a statement today "deplored the threatening phone calls" received by Mr Kouyaté.
The French group further condemned the 13 November closure of 'Le Quotidien'. "The closure of 'Le Quotidien' is clearly unjustified," the group said in a statement.
- Such a radical measure should always be a last resort, but it was taken without prior warning, RSF added. "In fact, the way this affair is developing suggests that an attempt is being made to terrorise Kouyaté and his staff and silence them for good."
RSF also did further investigations into the case. "Having read Kouyaté's article, we concluded that it in no way violates Guinea's laws or '[disturb] the peace, calm and democracy,' as the CNC has argued. 'Le Quotidien' must be allowed to resume publishing immediately in order to safeguard the diversity of news and information in Guinea," RSF concluded.
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