The Malian junta ordered Thursday the suspension of broadcasting by RFI and France 24, after the French media published reports that the Malian army was involved in abuses against civilians.
In a statement dated Wednesday and released Thursday morning, government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga “categorically rejects these false allegations”.
For the Malian government, the false allegations are part of a “strategy aimed at destabilizing the transition, demoralizing the Malian people, and discrediting the valiant armed forces.”
The government “is initiating a procedure (…) to suspend until further notice the broadcasting of RFI (…) and France 24,” the statement said.
In Paris, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced “serious violations of press freedom” in Mali and said it was concerned about “serious allegations of abuses that have been committed in the center of the country, which have been independently documented.
Mali’s decision to sanction RFI and France 24, two French public media, comes against a backdrop of hostility toward France, the former colonial power, whose ambassador was expelled in late January. On February 18, Paris had announced its military withdrawal from Mali after nine years of anti-jihadist struggle, pushed out by the “obstructions” of the Malian junta.
By midday Thursday, RFI had stopped broadcasting, but France 24 continued to broadcast.
In a statement, France Médias Monde, the parent company of RFI and France 24, “deplores” the Malian decision and “strongly protests against the unfounded accusations”. The French company “will study all avenues of appeal to ensure that such a decision is not implemented”.