Media council suspends newspaper for critical article

New York, May 4, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the recent suspension of the twice-monthly private newspaper L’Enquêteur by Guinea’s National Communications Council after it published an article critical of President Lansana Conté’s government. Council Chairman Boubacar Yacine Diallo confirmed to CPJ via e-mail that the paper was suspended for two months on April 27 for publishing allegedly “tendentious and unfounded information” that could endanger national unity and security.

The offending article appeared on the front page of the paper’s April 27 edition and is titled “Socio-economic and political crisis: Guinea made sick by its government,” according to a CPJ source. It spoke of divisions among senior government leaders, corruption, and a lack of political dialogue, the source said.

Guinea’s ill and aging president has ruled for two decades over a country mired in economic crisis, according to international news reports. Its crisis has been exacerbated by a lack of transparency about Conté’s health and the lack of any apparent succession plan.

“This newspaper has been censored merely for raising issues of vital national concern,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ. “Guinea’s authorities should allow L’Enquêteur to resume publishing immediately and stop using heavy-handed tactics to stifle the country’s private press.”

L’Enquêteur was founded by Diallo, the current head of the communications council. Diallo told CPJ that he left the paper after being named to head the council. .

Few private papers circulate regularly in Guinea, where the government has still not fulfilled a 2005 promise to allow private broadcasting.