Mali to suspend French state-funded international news outlets
Mali's ruling military junta will suspend broadcasts by French state-funded international news outlets RFI and France 24, accusing them of reporting false allegations in the West African nation.
Mali’s military government issued a statement Thursday that it will “initiate proceedings” to “suspend, until further notice” RFI and France 24 broadcasts in Mali.
The move came after RFI reported on human rights abuse allegations against Mali’s army.
The government said the allegations are false and are part of a “strategy aimed at destabilizing the transition, demoralizing the Malian people, and discrediting the valiant armed forces.”
It also compared RFI and TV channel France24's reporting to the infamous "Mille Collines" radio in Rwanda, blamed for broadcasting propaganda that helped incite the 1994 genocide.
Relations between Mali and former colonial master France soured in recent months, particularly since Mali started working with private Russian fighters in a long-running battle against militants.
The Mali junta has staged two coups since August 2020 and delayed plans to hold elections in February, prompting sanctions from the 15-member Economic Community of West African States.
The two outlets were still on air in Mali on Thursday morning. The junta did not give details of the procedure, or say when broadcasts would be suspended.
Growing tensions pushed France to announce the withdrawal in February of hundreds of troops deployed across the desert country since 2013.
In January, Mali's military leaders expelled the French ambassador over "outrageous" comments made by the French foreign minister about the country’s transitional government.
Countries in West Africa’s Sahel region have abandoned their hopes in France’s supposed counter-terrorism efforts and started negotiating with armed militants to bring peace to the restive region.
Anti-French sentiment is rampant in Mali and other West African nations where many residents say that France is actually trying to keep their countries weak so the former colonial power can exploit natural resources in the Sahara.
African nations that suffered under French colonial rule still remember France's colonial- era crimes, despite the passage of decades since their independence from Paris.