FEBRUARY 8, 2005
Posted: February 11, 2005

Radio France Internationale

FM broadcasts of Radio France Internationale (RFI) were cut at around noon, according to RFI and international news reports.

Communications Minister Pittang Tchalla told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that RFI had gone off air because of a “technical fault.” But AFP quoted a source close to the government as saying that “it was a government decision, because of the tone adopted by this radio station.” At a press conference the previous day, Tchalla accused “certain international media” of “calling for revolution and destabilization.” He singled out RFI, saying that it was trying to “set Togo alight,” AFP reported.

This came after the death the previous weekend of President Gnassingbé Eyadema, who had ruled the country for 38 years, and the army’s swift move to install one of his sons, Faure Gnassingbé, as president in defiance of the constitution. Parliament then amended the constitution to legitimize the move, but there has been a chorus of regional and international protest.

Local journalists say RFI had aired a number of interviews critical of the situation, including an interview with exiled opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio.

RFI’s FM transmissions resumed on February 10, on the orders of Faure Gnassingbé, according to local sources. However, a France-based RFI reporter remained in neighboring Benin after being denied a visa to enter Togo.

Authorities also cracked down on local private radio stations that aired critical opinions, shuttering one station and issuing threats to four others.