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Media outlets go on strike over press freedom restrictions

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 8 July 2009, President Mamadou Tandja, operating under his emergency powers, gave sweeping powers to Daouda Diallo, chairman of the Conseil Supérieur de la Communication (CSC), the media regulatory body, to deal unilaterally and decisively with the country's media.

According to a presidential decree, Diallo has the exclusive power to take all measures, including closure, against any media outlet which allegedly "undermines public order or state's security" without seeking the approval of the other members of the CSC.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that this latest act of highhandedness comes in the wake of deep division among members of the media regulatory body over the closure of Dounia Media Group on 29 June.

The closure of the Dounia Group followed the broadcast of a statement by civil society groups calling for the resignation of President Tandja. A majority of the members of the CSC have distanced themselves from the CSC's directive saying the decision was not a collective one but solely that of the commission's president. The Dounia group has reopened after a Niamey court ruled that the closure was illegal.

Meanwhile, independent media outlets in Niger have vowed to pressure President Tandja to rescind this decision. To show their determination, the print media have stopped publication for the week ending on 27 July and radio and TV stations stopped all broadcasts on 21 July.

Following unsuccessful attempts to extend his stay in power, President Tandja declared a state of emergency in the country on 29 June.

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