BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The High Authority for Communication of Mali announced Wednesday it is permanently suspending French media outlets Radio France International and France 24, two of the most listened to news outlets in the West African country.
This is the first time that Mali's government has withdrawn the operating license of foreign media.
“The Radio France International, RFI, and France 24 channels are definitively withdrawn from the subscriptions of all audiovisual program distributors and from the platforms and sites of online media bodies and cell phone operators,” the body's statement said.
The High Authority for Communication of Mali called on the government to implement the decision.
On March 17, the Malian government had announced a temporary suspension for the two media outlets, which it accused of reporting “false allegations of abuses committed by the Malian Armed Forces against civilians, and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law."
France Médias Monde strongly contested the removal of its license and said it will use all other possible means to distribute news.
“We will continue to cover news in Mali which is of interest to all of Africa and the rest of the world. All technical solutions will be implemented to make our media accessible to Malians who wish to continue to receive free, expert information that is open to the world,” the media organization said.
It reiterated its “attachment to independence and freedom of information.”
A crisis in relations between Mali and France is escalating as the European nation has begun withdrawing soldiers it has stationed there since 2013, when they helped drive Islamic extremists from strongholds in the north.
On Monday, Mali's government accused the French army of violating the country's airspace and denounced what it said was the unauthorized use of surveillance drones.
The accusation came after France released videos appearing to show Russian mercenaries burying bodies near an army base in northern Mali, which had been handed over by the French to Malian forces.