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News media prevented from working by post-election violence

News media prevented from working by post-election violence

Published on Friday 19 November 2010. Updated on Tuesday 23 November 2010.
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Reporters Without Borders appeals for calm and respect for the media after a week in which most journalists in the capital, Conakry, have been staying indoors for fear of being targeted by activists or by the security forces in a wave of violence that began one week after the second round of the presidential election on 7 November.

The Sabari FM/Le Diplomate media group stopped working on 15 November after supporters of the losing candidate, Cellou Dalein Diallo, threatened to attack it. Other news media are paralyzed as a result of the climate of violence.

“By restoring calm to the Guinean capital, the state of emergency declared on 17 November will hopefully allow journalists to resume working,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We deplore the fact that journalists have been directly threatened and that this week’s violence contributed to the media’s paralysis. It is particularly disturbing that ethnicity has been used as grounds for threatening certain media with reprisals.”

Several dozen Diallo supporters gathered outside the headquarters of the Sabari FM/Le Diplomate group in the Conakry district of Cosa at around 9 a.m. on 15 November and threatened to ransack it, accusing its management and journalists of supporting the election’s declared winner, Alpha Condé.

At the same time, they clashed with members of the special election security units in the district, where most of the inhabitants are members of the Peul ethnic group and Diallo supporters, and where the security forces cracked down on protests with particular brutality.

The Diallo supporters finally called off their plan to ransack the Sabari FM/Le Diplomate offices after mediation by the building’s owner. The group’s news media stopped operating at 11 a.m. and, since then, its journalists have not been working, like most of the country’s other journalists.

A Conakry-based journalist told Reporters Without Borders: “It should be pointed out that Sabari FM invited several representatives of [the pro-Diallo alliance] to speak on the air during the campaign, so the station did make a significant effort to be balanced.”

Several organizations including International Crisis Group have reported that Diallo’s supporters were themselves the targets of “systematic attacks” by the security forces when they staged their protests in reaction to the announcement that their candidate had lost.

Crédit photo AFP

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