In a ruling issued on January 9, 2009, the state-run media regulator, the High Communication Council, suspended from circulation the private daily Le Citoyen for one month for allegedly violating journalism ethics, according to news reports and local journalists.
In an official statement read on the national broadcasting station, the Council accused the paper of “attacking the entire political class, without distinction” with a January 7 column that referred to members of Parliament as “kpanda”–loosely translated in the local Sango dialect as “sickly and mangy dogs.” The council also accused the newspaper of disregarding several prior warnings about the use of the term.
But local journalists told CPJ the ruling was enforced without a court order as required by the council’s own regulations. In protest, independent media groups, including the Group of Independent Private Press Editors (known by its French acronym as GEPPIC), launched press-free days on January 27 and February 4 and 5, according to international news reports.
The suspension came a day after Le Citoyen’s managing editor, Maka Gbossokoto, criticized the government’s reaction to the killing of top human rights lawyer Nganatoua Goungaye Wanfiyo, in an interview on independent Radio Ndéké-Luka, according to local journalists.