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Three journalists suspended for their alleged support of opposition party

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 10 May 2011, Ibrahima Ahmed Barry, Madam Louise Sanoussi, and Ciré Dieng, all journalists and presenters of the state-owned Radio and Television of Guinea (RTG), were suspended indefinitely by RTG's management for allegedly having sympathies for the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), the country's main opposition party.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the three journalists were told of their suspension by Mamadou Barry, Secretary-General of RTG, who said he was acting under instructions from an unnamed top official of the Ministry of Information.

"The Secretary-General verbally communicated our suspension to us. When we asked him what we had done, he said he did not know and that he was only obeying orders from above. None of us knows what we are being accused of. Neither the minister nor any top official of the ministry has communicated anything to us", Dieng said on behalf of the suspended journalists.

However, sources at the Ministry told MFWA that the authorities suspected the journalists, who according to correspondents were experienced presenters and held in high esteem for their diligence and quality services, to be sympathisers of Cellou Diallo, the leader of UFDG.

"It is President Alpha Condé who said that he does not want to see the heads of these journalists on national television," according to the source.

MFWA is saddened by this arbitrary suspension as it may erode the democratic progress in Guinea. Journalists working for the state-owned media have, since the country's independence in 1958, worked under the strict direction of the one-party government or the military juntas that succeeded it. Our hope was that with the ushering in of a new regime of democratic governance, such arbitrary action against state media would be a thing of the past.

MFWA calls on the media regulatory body, the National Communications Council (CNC), under the vibrant leadership of Madame Martine Condé, to ensure that the illegal suspension of the journalists is lifted immediately. It is the duty of the CNC to ensure that RTG becomes a free and independent public broadcaster governed by an independent board protected from political and economic interference.

We also appeal to the government of Alpha Condé to respect the independence of RTG.

MFWA believes that this is the only way to ensure the necessary conducive conditions for genuine democracy in Guinea.

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