Senegalese Authorities Detain Journalists Pape Moussa Traoré, Mohamed Guèye

The Senegalese gendarmerie have detained two journalists over articles that they published about the transfer of an Army General to India. Pape Moussa Traoré, editor of the daily La Tribune, and Mohamed Guèye, editor of Le Quotidien, were invited for questioning following the publication of articles which also suggested a rift between Prime Minister Ousmane Sonko and General Souleymane Kandé, the Chief of Staff of the Senegalese Army. The police arrested and detained them after they responded to the invitation.

Pape Moussa Traoré was invited on May 29, 2024 and subsequently placed in custody on May 30, 2024 by the gendarmerie in Dakar. Traoré’s story on the redeployment of General Kandé, which suggested a fallout with Prime Minister Sonko, is believed to have led to his arrest.

Following Traoré’s detention, Mohamed Guèye was also invited and detained on May 31, 2024. Le Quotidien, Guèye’s newspaper, reported that his troubles likely stemmed from recent publications questioning the circumstances of General Kandé’s redeployment to India.

“These questionings follow articles in the two daily newspapers about the posting of the Army Chief of Staff, General Souleymane Kandé, as Military Attaché to the Senegalese Embassy in New Delhi, India,” the media outlet reported.

The two journalists were released on May 31, 2024. Their detention sparked widespread reactions across Senegal and beyond. The Syndicat des Professionnels de l’Information et de la Communication du Sénégal (SYNPICS) and the Coordination des Associations de Presse (CAP) have both criticised the arrests, emphasising the need for the government to uphold freedom of the press.

Madiambal Diagne, the owner of Le Quotidien, has expressed his support for Guèye and his editorial team.

Ibrahima Lissa Faye, president of the press association, Association des Editeurs et Professionnels de la Presse en Ligne (APPEL) and head of the media union, Coordination des Associations de Presse (CAP), laments that the development is a step backwards.

“Ousmane Sonko, this is not what you promised us. Freedom of the press is sacred. No one, neither an authority nor a state, can curb it,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

The MFWA urges the Senegalese authorities to respect media rights and ensure that the journalists can operate freely and without fear of reprisals. The arrests of Pape Moussa Traoré and Mohamed Guèye raise serious concerns about press freedom and freedom of expression conditions in Senegal. Actions, such as these, undermine democratic principles and threaten the critical role the media plays as watchdog of society.

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