The military junta in power in Burkina Faso announced on Monday 27 March that it had suspended the broadcasting of programs by the news channel France 24 throughout Burkina Faso. The authorities claimed that France 24 gave an interview a fortnight ago to the head of the terrorist group AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb).
“By opening its airwaves to the head of AQIM, France 24 is not only acting as a communication agency for these terrorists, but it is also providing a space for legitimising terrorist actions and hate speech to satisfy the evil aims of this organisation in Burkina Faso,” the Burkinabe government spokesman, Rimtalba Jean Emmanuel Ouédraogo, said in a statement on Monday.
Indeed, on 6 March, France 24 broadcast written answers to some seventeen questions put to Abu Obeida Youssef al-Annabi, the leader of the terrorist group Aqmi. Apparently, this did not please the Burkinabe authorities.
“The Government is sorry to see that the head of a terrorist organisation such as AQIM, recognised as such by the entire international community, can benefit from the wide editorial scope of France 24 to express himself for a long period of time on the channel’s airwaves. This organisation, it should be remembered, is a follower of jihadist terrorism and the author of odious crimes that shock the human conscience and have caused thousands of victims throughout the world,” the statement said.
“In the Sahel-Saharan strip and particularly in Burkina Faso, the indiscriminate violence and terrorist barbarism against the peaceful population is mainly fuelled by this organisation, which harbours nefarious designs for our country and our people, whom the Government has the responsibility to protect,” the text adds.
Consequently, “the government has decided in all responsibility, and in the name of the higher interest of the Nation, to suspend sine die the broadcasting of France 24 programs throughout the national territory,” Ouédraogo continued.
“In the noble struggle to liberate our country from the barbarity of the terrorist hordes and armed bandits, the government warns that it will remain intransigent in defending the vital interests of our people against all those who would play the megaphones in the amplification of terrorist actions and speeches of hatred and division conveyed by these armed groups,” concluded the Minister of Communication.
It should be noted that this suspension comes in a context of high tensions between Paris and Ouagadougou. These differences led the Burkinabe government to demand the departure of the French army and all the military aid workers present in the Burkinabe military administration.
Furthermore, in December 2022, the Burkinabe authorities suspended the broadcasting of RFI programs throughout the country. Radio France Internationale was accused of having relayed “a message of intimidation” attributed to a “terrorist leader”.
As a sign of this suspension, on 8 February 2023, the High Council of Communication issued a formal notice to France 24 television for having unjustly attributed to the Burkinabe government the term “Islamic rebels” instead of armed terrorist groups in the case of the kidnapping of a group of women in the north of the country.
It should be noted that RFI and France 24 have also been suspended in Mali, another country ruled by a military junta, for a year.