MARCH 22, 2005
Posted: April 1, 2005

Radio Télévision Ténéré (RTT)

Police in the western city of Zinder searched the offices of the privately owned broadcaster Radio Télévision Ténéré (RTT) and confiscated a videocassette containing footage of street protests against a new tax on basic foodstuffs, water and electricity. According to RTT officials quoted by the Media Foundation for West Africa, the action was carried out on the orders of Zinder’s governor, Abba Mallam Boukar.

The controversial new tax has provoked widespread protests and civil disobedience in the impoverished country. The same day, a group of civil society organizations calling themselves the “Coalition Against Costly Living” had organized a general strike, which nearly shut down the capital, Niamey, according to news reports.

The raid on RTT appeared to be part of a larger crackdown on media coverage of the coalition’s activities and views. By the end of the week, five of the coalition’s leaders were in jail facing accusations of threatening state security. Several of them had been interviewed on local radio stations; one of the leaders, Moussa Tchangari, who is also a journalist, was arrested after giving an interview to Radio France Internationale (RFI).