Burkina Faso junta ends suspension of radio station critical of Niger

The junta-led government of Burkina Faso has announced that one of the nation’s most popular radio stations can recommence broadcasting on Monday. The station had been suspended for airing an interview that was considered “insulting” to the new military leaders of Niger.

Radio Omega, which had been directed to cease broadcasting on August 10, has had its suspension lifted, as confirmed by Communications Minister Rimtalba Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo in a statement released on Sunday.

The government thoroughly reviewed the request submitted by the Burkinabe media monitoring center concerning Radio Omega, as stated by Communications Minister Rimtalba Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo.

It had listened to the “argument that ‘the radio team has learned the lessons of this sanction’,” he added.

Radio Omega broadcasted an interview with Ousmane Abdoul Moumouni, the spokesperson for a newly-formed Nigerien group advocating for the return of President Mohamed Bazoum to power.

Niger’s democratically elected leader was ousted on July 26 by members of the Presidential Guard.

Moumouni made “insulting comments with regard to the new Nigerien authorities”, Ouedraogo, who is also a government spokesman, said at the time of the channel’s suspension.

He said the measure was “in the higher interests of the Nation.”

In Sunday’s statement, the minister reiterated the government’s dedication to upholding freedom of expression and the press, emphasizing the responsible practice of journalism.

Nevertheless, he emphasized to media organizations the need for a media discourse that does not jeopardize the collective efforts to combat the forces of oppression and domination affecting the Sahel’s people.

Burkina Faso experienced two military coups last year, both partially driven by discontent arising from the inability to effectively combat a growing jihadist insurgency, a situation mirrored in Mali and Niger as well.

It promptly expressed solidarity with Niger’s new leadership and, in conjunction with Mali, issued a warning that any military intervention aimed at reinstating Bazoum would be viewed as a “declaration of war” against them.

Radio Omega is a component of the Omega media conglomerate, which is owned by journalist and former foreign minister Alpha Barry.

In recent months, the Burkinabe authorities have taken measures to suspend the operations of French TV channels LCI and France24, as well as Radio France Internationale (RFI). Additionally, they have expelled correspondents from the French newspapers Liberation and Le Monde.

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