BURKINA Faso’s military junta announced on Monday the suspension of the French news magazine Jeune Afrique, accusing it of disseminating ‘untruthful’ articles that allegedly aimed to undermine the country’s armed forces and sow chaos. This suspension represents the most recent development in an escalating crackdown on French media since Burkina Faso fell under military rule last year.
The junta’s statement pointed to two recent articles published by Jeune Afrique in the past four days as the basis for its decision. The statement asserted that the publication’s articles sought to discredit the country’s armed forces and manipulate information to ‘spread chaos.’
At the time of reporting, Jeune Afrique had not responded to an email request for comment regarding the suspension.
Tensions between Burkina Faso and its former colonial power, France, have been on the rise, primarily due to mounting frustrations over worsening insecurity linked to a jihadist insurgency. These security concerns played a role in two military takeovers in Burkina Faso last year.
The strained relations have resulted in the expulsion of diplomatic officials, including the French ambassador to Burkina Faso, and have fuelled a backlash against foreign media outlets.
Prior to the suspension of Jeune Afrique, the junta had already taken action against French-funded broadcasters, including Radio France Internationale and France24. These outlets were accused of providing a platform for Islamist militants involved in an insurgency across the Sahel region south of the Sahara. Both organisations vehemently denied these allegations.
Furthermore, in June, the junta suspended the French television channel La Chaine Info, operated by private broadcaster TF1, for a period of three months. The suspension was attributed to a report on the insurgency that was deemed to ‘lack objectivity.’ TF1 chose not to comment on the matter at the time.
In April, two French journalists affiliated with newspapers Le Monde and Liberation were expelled from Burkina Faso. Liberation contended that the suspension was unjustified, asserting that the journalists possessed ‘perfect integrity’ and had all the required documentation in order.