President Alpha Conde has threatened to shut down any media organisation which provides coverage for the activities of Aboubacar Soumah, a leading member of a teachers union which is on strike.
Speaking at the 46 meeting of International Union of the Francophone Press in Conakry on November 25, 2017, President Conde described a biting strike by teachers in the country as a rebellion and any media house relaying the statements of Aboubacar Soumah, Deputy Secretary General of the Free Union of Teachers and Researchers of Guinea (SLECG, as accomplices). He then proceeded to issue the threat of closure against any complicit media house.
“We reached an agreement with the union. How can someone just decide to rebel? But what is even more serious is that there are radio stations which are offering it coverage. Meanwhile if there is rebellion, the one who broadcasts it is an accomplice. I said at the meeting that any radio that will broadcast the Communiqué of Aboubacar Soumah will be closed because it will be an accomplice.”
Since November 13, 2017, Guinea’s education sector has been paralysed by a strike called by Aboubacar Soumah. The authorities however insist that strike as illegal.
The threat adds to a series of recent violations against radio stations in Guinea. On October 30, 2017, the national Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ARPT) scrambled the transmission of Radio Gangan for four days. The action followed rumours -falsely attributed to the station- about the death of President Alpha Condé .
Four days later (November 3), the media regulatory body, Haute autorite de la Communication (HAC), suspended for one week Espace FM and all its relay outlets across the country. The suspension was in connection with the November 1 edition the Grandes Gueules which discussed the state of military garrisons in Guinea.
The MFWA considers President Conde’s order to radio stations in Guinea not to broadcast statements from Soumah as a frontal attack on press freedom as it is amounts to a clear interference with the editorial independence of Guinea’s radio stations. The attempt to gag Souma is in itself a violation of his right to express himself on a matter in which he is a key stakeholder.
We wish to urge President Conde to withdraw the threat and to continue the dialogue with the striking teachers union rather than resort to censorship.