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Mauritania cracks down on critical press after referendum

Mauritanians queue to vote in a referendum on whether to amend their constitution in the capital Nouakchott, 25 June 2006
Mauritanians queue to vote in a referendum on whether to amend their constitution in the capital Nouakchott, 25 June 2006

REUTERS/Jon Shadid

The following is an excerpt of a 17 October 2017 CPJ blog post by Marwa Morgan, CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Intern.

The Mauritanian Radio and Television Broadcast Authority today ordered Mauritania's five privately owned news stations to shut down for "failing to fulfil their financial agreements" with the country's broadcast regulator, local media reported.

Local journalists with whom CPJ spoke said the move is the latest sign of a crackdown on the independent press, during unrest after President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz called a referendum in August - which was boycotted by the opposition - to abolish the country's Senate after it ruled against expanding presidential powers. In recent months, journalists have been attacked and detained while covering protests over the public referendum, which voted in favor of abolishing the Senate, and critical news outlets have faced legal action.

In the case of the privately owned stations, Mauritania's regulator sent letters to Dava, Sahel TV, Chinguitt, al-Watania and Al-Mourabitoun TV saying that they had one day's notice to pay all outstanding fees, or their broadcasts would be blocked, according to news reports. The order means only the state-run news channel is currently operating, according to reports.

Read the full blog post on CPJ's site.

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