The military junta in Burkina Faso has suspended both the print and online channels of the French news outlet Jeune Afrique, making the fourth suspension of a French media outlet in less than a year. The junta’s action is allegedly in response to Jeune Afrique’s coverage, which the Burkinabe authorities claim, seeks to “discredit the military”.
In a statement dated September 25, 2023, and signed by the Minister of Communication and Government Spokesman, Jean Emmanuel Ouédraogo, the junta accused Jeune Afrique of deliberately making baseless claims with the sole aim of “discrediting, in an unacceptable manner, the National Armed Forces and, by extension, all those fighting selflessly to protect the sovereignty and dignity of our people in the free land of Burkina Faso”.
The government further accused Jeune Afrique of propagating falsehoods and engaging in grotesque manipulation, in disregard of the ethics of journalism. The junta accused the media outlet of aligning with clandestine organizations seeking to sow chaos in Burkina Faso to further their nefarious goals.
The junta’s accusations and its decision, thereof, to suspend all distribution platforms of Jeune Afrique in Burkina Faso until further notice, is in response to a series of publications by the French media about alleged discontent among the military.
The government specifically cited a September 25, 2023 article which had a title that suggested that there were some tensions within the ranks of the army. The said article followed a previous one on the same theme.
Meanwhile, Jeune Afrique has denounced the Burkinabe authorities’ decision as an outdated type of censorship, and called on the authorities to reconsider it.
“The suspension until further notice of all Jeune Afrique channels in Burkina Faso, on September 25 by the transitional Burkinabe authorities following the publication on our site of articles reporting tensions and differences of opinion within the army, is yet another attack on freedom of information in the country of Norbert Zongo” Jeune Afrique said in a publication on their website. It also said that Burkina Faso is becoming a “no-information zone.”
Founded in 1960 and based in France, Jeune Afrique is a website and monthly magazine with several correspondents and contributors in Africa and elsewhere.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is deeply concerned about the arbitrary suspension of Jeune Afrique, and urges the junta to reconsider its decision. The mandate to decide what publication breaches ethical standards rests with the media regulator. By deciding to suspend the media organization, the government is acting as a complainant and a judge.”