This is another step in the escalation between France and Mali. Already suspended since mid-March, RFI and France 24’s broadcasting was definitively cut off on 27 April. France Médias Monde (FMM), the parent company of the two French public broadcasters, published a statement, saying it “strongly contested” the decision and would “study all avenues of appeal.”
The group said Mali’s Haute Autorité de la Communication had informed them of this decision on 27 April.
“We will continue to cover the news in Mali, which is of interest to the whole of Africa and the rest of the world. All technical solutions will be implemented to make our media accessible to Malians who wish to continue to receive free, expert and open information on the world,” continued FMM.
— France Médias Monde (@France_MM) April 27, 2022
Translation: France Médias Monde strongly contests the final decision to suspend @RFI and @FRANCE24 in #Mali and will use all possible means to appeal it.
Fama and Wagner’s abuses
The station and channel had already been cut off since mid-March “on the FM network for RFI and by the operators who distribute television locally for France 24“, said the group. However, RFI was still “accessible by shortwave, a technical means widely used in Africa, particularly by people who live far away from big cities”, as was France 24 “by direct satellite reception.”
Social media also remained accessible and the two broadcasters “will benefit, just like in Russia, in partnership with Reporters Without Borders, from mirror websites via addresses that cannot be cut off by the Malian authorities.”
On 17 March, the junta had ordered that the two broadcasters be suspended after RFI and France 24 reported that the Malian army was involved in civilian abuses, following the discovery of a mass grave in the Niono region. The Malian government subsequently announced that it was initiating “a procedure […] to suspend the broadcasting of the two French public media platforms until further notice.”
Since then, FMM has been defending itself and will initiate “a defamation action in France and Mali, following the publication [of a press release] in which the Malian government compares the alleged actions of RFI and France 24 to the infamous practices and role of Radio Mille Collines.”
“These accusations, which refer to the radio station that encouraged the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda in 1994, in addition to being totally unfounded, are extremely serious and shocking. They undermine the integrity of RFI and France 24 as well as the security of their teams,” said FMM.
The definitive suspension of RFI and France 24 comes as the Malian junta accused the French army of “espionage” and “subversion”, after the French army broadcast videos filmed by a drone near the Gossi base, which France recently returned, in central Mali.
Against the backdrop of a diplomatic crisis with Bamako, Paris announced in February the withdrawal of its soldiers deployed in Mali, an operation that will end this summer.
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