Mali cuts French TV and radio channels in conflict

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The Malian government has blocked two major French media outlets, accusing Radio France Internationale and the France24 television channel of spreading false information about alleged military abuses.

The move is the latest sign of escalating tensions between the government of Mali and its former colonizer who has spent the past nine years trying to help the West African country end an Islamic insurgency.

Relations deteriorated sharply following military coups in 2020 and 2021 and France is now in the process of withdrawing its troops from the country.

The suspension of French broadcast channels would apply to both shortwave and FM frequencies and would also affect their digital platforms, Malian government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said.

The suspension effectively shuts down major international news sources in Mali, a French-speaking country. Viewers who attempted to watch the channel on Friday received a “program blocked” message on their screens.

France Médias Monde, the parent company of RFI and France 24, issued a statement strongly condemning the action of the Malian government.

“The group deplores this decision and vigorously protests against unfounded accusations that seriously undermine the professionalism of its transmitters,” he said.

Both French media had reported on alleged abuses of civilians by Malian soldiers by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and Human Rights Watch.

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Associated Press writer Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed.

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