The ruling junta in Mali has definitively banned French broadcasters RFI and France 24 after complaining of false accusations that the Sahel kingdom’s military carried out abuses, the radio and television channels stated Wednesday.
France Medias Monde, the country-owned determine corporation of RFI and France 24, stated it had obtained notification in the course of the day from Mali’s communique authority.
“France Medias Monde strongly contests the definitive decision to suspend,” the two broadcasters, the company said in a statement.
It called the move “unfounded and arbitrary” adding it would use all possible means of recourse to get the decision reversed.
The French government had called Mali’s initial temporary suspension of the French media channels on March 17 a grave attack on the liberty of the press.
RFI (Radio France Internationale) and France 24 cover African news extensively and have a strong following in the former French colony.
The broadcast ban comes after diplomatic relations between Mali and its former colonial power France plunged to their lowest point in years amid disputes over democracy and the alleged presence of Russia-linked paramilitaries in the country.
Mali expelled the French ambassador in January.
The junta, which seized power in August 2020, said there had been “false accusations” in a report in mid-March in which RFI aired comments from alleged victims of abuse by the army and shadowy Russian private-security group Wagner.
Mali’s junta has also accused Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Michelle Bachelet, the UN human rights chief, of making false allegations against the government.
An impoverished nation of 21 million people, Mali has over the past decade been wracked by Islamist violence.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.
The under-equipped army has also often been accused of committing abuses during the brutal conflict. The army-led interim government regularly rejects such accusations.
The junta’s developing friendship with Russia has worsened friction with France, a conventional ally.
Paris ultimate month announced the upcoming withdrawal of thousands of troops deployed in Mali below France’s anti-jihadist assignment inside the Sahel.