Niger, newspaper publishers and journalists will embark on a one-week strike
Monday to protest what they describe as President Mamadou Tandja's move to
silence the independent media.
The Niger Association of Independent Printers
(ANEPI) also called on Nigeriens to join in the struggle to protect their
freedoms. This follows President Tandja's decree last week giving sweeping
powers to the broadcasting commission to take punitive actions against any
media criticism of his planned 4 August referendum.
The president, whose second
five-year term ends in December, wants a mandate to change the constitution to
extend his rule for three more years.
But the independent press is condemning the move as
draconian and dictatorial.
Monday, (the) Organization of Media of Niger has decided to not publish any
independent newspaper from Monday to Friday. And we decided it because we want
to react against the decision of the President, Mamadou Tandja, to concentrate
all the power of the Supreme Council of Communication in the hand of the
president of this council," said Abdulrahman Ousmane, owner of "Alternative" newspaper and a leading
member of (ANEPI).
said the strike aims to pressure President Tandja to reverse the decree.
us this decision is going against the principle of independence of this
council. And so we decided to demonstrate until the cancellation of President
Tandja Mamadou," he said.
said the president's decree is unconstitutional.
Supreme Council of Communication according to the constitution is an
independent institution, so now with this decision it won't be a reality. The
council will be in the president's office," Ousmane said.
said the president's decree undermines Niger's hard-won freedoms.
don't accept it because we have fought many years before to have an independent
institution to regulate the media. So we don't accept this decision of
President Mamadou Tandja to transform an independent institution to an
institution dependent on him," he said.
hopes the strike will impair the August 4 referendum.
think that our struggle will have an impact so Niger citizens will know that
the press freedom and the independent media are very important in the
democratic system. So we want to show Niger people what will happen to their
lives without independent media," Ousmane said.
President Tandja plans to hold an August 4 referendum despite wide condemnation
from opposition groups and the international community.