Niger ALERT: Head of State warns independent radio stations

President M. Tandja Mamadou of Niger has warned independent radio stations operating in parts of the country against broadcasting any programs “liable to disturb the social peace and public order.”

In a radio message (No.060/PRN of October 2, 2003) to all regional ministers, municipal chief executives and district heads of public institutions, the President instructed them to “immediately invite all media heads in areas under your jurisdiction and call them to order and warn them against any act liable to endanger the peace and public order.” He also threatened that, “any unacceptable behavior would be severely dealt with under the law.”

Copies of the President’s statement were served on media institutions operating outside of the capital, Niamey. Radio station managers have, in recent weeks, incurred the ire of state authorities who have accused the stations of engaging in disparaging press reviews, and of opening up their talk show and panel discussion programs to opposition groups and members of the Tuareg ethnic group to criticize the government.

Conflict between the government and semi-nomadic Tuareg in the early 1990s abated with the brokering of a peace accord in 1995. However, some former rebel elements have been critical of the government’s commitment to the terms of the agreement.

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