- Two journalists of Guinea's state-owned daily newspaper, 'Horoya', were indefinitely suspended on Wednesday for failing to print the photograph of President Lansana Conté alongside the publication of his speech. Ibrahima Sory Dieng, Managing Director and Alhassane Souaré, Editor in Chief of 'Horoya', were suspended by the Guinean Minister of Information, Aboubacar Sylla, in person.
"Minister Sylla ordered the printing of 'Horoya' to be stopped and asked Souare to publish a speech by President Conté commemorating the 48th independence celebration," reported the Accra-based Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).
Following the order, the editor of the newspaper had to use his personal cash to pay for the cost of scanning President Conté's speech, which was subsequently published but without accompanying his photograph, much to the dismay of state officials.
'Horoya' newspaper joins cash-strapped Guinean papers that are struggling for survival, which is why it does not publish regularly.
Media rights groups condemned the decision of the Guinean government to suspend the two media executives, which according to them, undermines the spirit and letter of the country's constitution that guarantees freedom and editorial independence of state-owned media.
"The action is arbitrary and that it cast a shadow of doom on the exercise of the fundamental and constitutional guaranteed right to media freedom and freedom of expression Guinea," said the director of Media Foundation, Professor Kwame Kari Kari, who urged the Minister Sylla to reinstate the two journalists.
Guinea has seen many violations of press freedom during the regime of President Conté. However, during the last few years, independent media have been able to pressure government into a more liberal press regime, including legal amendments and stopping the practice of imprisoning journalists. State media however remain at the mercy of the Minister of Information.
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