President Mamadou Tandja of Niger, operating under his emergency powers on July 8, 2009 gave sweeping powers to Daouda Diallo, chairman of the Conseil Supérieur de la Communication (CSC), the media regulatory body, to unilaterally deal 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 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 June 29.
The closure of the Dounia Group followed the broadcast of a statement by civil society groups calling for the resignation of President Tandja.
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 houses in Niger have vowed to presurise President Tandja to rescind this decision. To show their determination, the print media have stopped publication for the week which ends on July 27. Radio and TV stations will not broadcast for a day on July 21.
Following unsuccessful attempts to extend his stay in power, President Tandja on June 29 declared a state of emergency in the country.