The newspaper crisis in Mauritania has taken a new turn with the government-owned press instructed to convert into online media platforms.
Starting this week, the two state newspapers, Chaab and Horizons (respectively published in Arabic and French) will only be available on the internet via the website of the Mauritanian News Agency (AMI). The two papers have been operating since 1975 and have a daily circulation of 3,000 copies each.
The cash-strapped national printer, which prints all newspapers in the country as part of government subvention to the media, has been closed down following a strike by workers over unpaid salaries.
The decision by the state in respect of the two public-owned newspapers has triggered fears that the government might not be willing or interested in resolving in any time soon the crisis at the national printing house which has paralysed the newspaper industry.
The newspaper crisis is dire for a country which is heading into legislative and local elections in less than two months time.
The MFWA appeals to the government of Mauritania to dialogue with all stakeholders to ensure a speedy resolution of the crisis and enable the newspaper sector to play its key role during the upcoming elections and beyond.