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Burkina Faso suspends France 24 broadcasts in the country after al Qaeda interview

file photo: new junta's soldiers stand guard in an armoured vehicle in ouagadougou
FILE PHOTO: New junta's soldiers stand guard in an armoured vehicle in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso October 2, 2022. REUTERS/Vincent Bado/File Photo

Burkina Faso’s military government on Monday suspended France 24 broadcasts in the country after the TV station reportedon an interview with the head of al Qaeda’s North African wing AQIM.

Relations between Paris and Ouagadougou have deteriorated sharply since Burkina Faso’s military seized power in a coup last October.

In January, Burkina Faso gave France one month to withdraw its troops as it ended a military accord that allowed French troops to fight insurgents, including on its territory.

During a studio discussion, France 24 earlier this month aireda 20-second audio clip of an interview with Yezid Mebarek, also known as Abu Ubaydah Yusuf al-Anabi, who claimed the title of “emir of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” in 2020 after a French raid killed his predecessor.

By interviewing the head of AQIM, “France 24 is not only acting as a mouthpiece for these terrorists, but worse, it is providing a space for the legitimisation of terrorist actions and hate speech”, Burkina Faso’s minister of communication, Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo, said in a statement.

France 24 – which is funded by the French state – said the move was based on “unfounded accusations”.

“The channel never gave him the floor directly,” France 24 said in a statement, adding it chose to only report what the interviewee said through a studio conversation with one of its journalists.

In December, Ouagadougou suspended broadcasts of Radio France International, a radio station also funded by the French government, over what it called false reports and giving voice to Islamist militants.

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