News

Niger Endures Week of Media Crackdown, Opposition Arrests, and Protests

Multimedia

Audio

Recent moves by Niger’s President Mamadou Tandja to extend his rule have resulted in an order by the CSC, the country’s High Communications Council (Conseil Superieur de la Communication), to ban a top radio and television station from the airwaves.  Dounia Group, which runs Dounia Radio and TV, was targeted for what Niger’s media regulatory agency called “incitement of the security forces to revolt.” 
   
The charge follows President Tandja’s dissolution of the Constitutional Court on Monday, shortly after the bench reiterated that the president’s plans for a referendum on changing the constitution are illegal.  Tom Rhodes, the Africa program manager of New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), says that the regulatory body has overstepped press freedom boundaries before.
   
“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the High Communications Council making these decisions against media outlets.  So we’ve just got to keep on pushing to make sure that they change their ways and actually become an independent body as they should be,” he said.
   
Rhodes says that last August, Dounia Group went to court and successfully overturned another attempt to knock it off the air.  This week, CPJ actually spoke with the head of Niger’s CSC. The council leader claimed that Dounia’s presentation of coverage of the country’s political crisis exceeded boundaries outlined by the council in a June 8 warning.
   
That directive restricted privately owned broadcasters from carrying live discussions of President Tandja’s attempts to change the constitution in order to secure a third term and extend his presidential rule. 
   
On Monday, President Tandja declared a state of emergency and disbanded the Constitutional Court after the body refused for the third time to prolong his rule.  The opposition Front for the Defense of Democracy (FDD), headed by opposition leader Mohamadou Issoufou, issued a statement calling for Mr. Tandja to resign and for the military to disregard the president’s orders to dissolve the court. 
   
Mr. Issoufou was detained for two hours on Tuesday, hours after charging that recent moves by the president tantamount to carrying out a coup d’etat.  On Wednesday, an opposition-organized nationwide strike failed to mobilize heavy support, despite public disfavor with President Tanjda’s unilateral moves to stay in power. CPJ’s Tom Rhodes says it’s likely the protests will continue, particularly during the period leading up to the president’s August 4 referendum on a third term.
   
“I do get the impression that this is not the last strike we are going to see.  We can only hope that more pressure will be placed on the president and the upper echelons to ensure that democracy is allowed to prevail in Niger,” he said.
   
Niger’s security forces say they will not take sides during the current political power struggle.  Rhodes notes that only five of the CSC’s 11-member body backed the council president’s banning order Monday against the Dounia Group.
   
“It’s kind of impressive in the sense that the media is trying to keep the story alive and that there are even people within the administration – for example, the Constitutional Court, and even within the CSC, the High Communication Council – who object to these kinds of measures.  We are under the impression that people are getting to know what’s going on despite efforts to censor the press,” he said.
   
On Wednesday, the White House issued a statement of concern “about the recent actions of Niger’s President Mamadou Tandja to rule by ordinance and decree and to dissolve the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court as part of a bid to retain power beyond his constitutionally-limited mandate.”
   
The statement went on to voice disappointment that Mr. Tandja’s moves are undermining Niger’s efforts over the past 10 years to promote good governance and the rule of law.  The African Union has just sent a delegation to Niger to help the political players solve their differences.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs