Burkina Faso’s military government has suspended the broadcast of France’s Radio France Internationale in the West African state over what it said were false reports and giving voice to armed groups.
In a statement on Saturday, the government said the state-run RFI broadcast a message earlier that day from a leader of an armed group in which he threatened the population.
The government said RFI also repeated a press report – which it denied – that Burkina Faso’s President Captain Ibrahim Traore, who seized power in a coup in September, had said there had been an attempted coup trying to unseat him.
“In view of all of the above, the government has decided the immediate suspension of the broadcast of all RFI programmes across the national territory,” said the statement signed by government spokesman Rimtalba Jean Emmanuel Ouedraogo.
RFI responded by saying it “protests against the totally unfounded accusations calling into question its professionalism”.
It added that the decision to suspend its broadcasting was made without prior notice and without implementation of procedures put in place by Burkina Faso’s communications regulator.
RFI Afrique radio, which has one of the largest footprints across French-speaking Africa, added that it will explore ways to restore its broadcasting.
Burkina Faso is the second West African nation to suspend RFI’s broadcast after neighbouring Mali’s military government did so in March.
The decision comes as relations between France and its former colonies Burkina Faso and Mali continue to sour over seeming French inefficiency in tackling armed groups which occupied northern Mali in 2012 and have spread to neighbouring states.
The prolonged insecurity led to political instability and military coups in August 2020 and May 2021 in Mali, and in January 2022 and September 2022 in Burkina Faso.
France pulled its troops from Mali as the relations between Paris and the Malian military government deteriorated over delays in returning to constitutional rule, and Mali’s decision to turn to Russian private military firm Wagner Group to help in the conflict.
On November 18, the French embassy, cultural centre and military base in Burkina Faso were targeted by angry mobs demanding that France should leave and that the military leaders, should turn to Russia for help like Mali, to take on fighters.