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Togo suspends third opposition-friendly media


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Togo's media regulatory body has suspended pro-opposition weekly Fraternite after it ran an article criticising the suspension of two other newspapers, it emerged Tuesday.
The High Authority for Audiovisual and Communication (HAAC) suspended the journal late Monday for two months from April 1.
It cited a March 25 article containing what it termed "discourteous, insulting and defamatory words" in criticising the earlier bans on the L'Alternative and Liberte papers.
Fraternite reported that "the HAAC, having called in a surrealist manner and in vain on the two organs to show proof of claims in their publications, chose directly to punish them."

The HAAC maintains that the offending article "did not respect professional rules, in violation of journalists' professional ethics and Togo's press and communications code."

"I find the decision regrettable," said Fraternite director Joel Vignon Kossi Egan, adding that a warning would have been more appropriate than a suspension.
The HAAC suspended Liberte and L'Alternative on March 23 for 15 days and two months respectively following a complaint by the French ambassador to the West African state, Marc Vizy.
The two papers were accused of publishing articles containing "serious, unfounded and scurrilous accusations" against Vizy and against Franck Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron's Africa advisor.
The papers suggested the pair were interfering in the electoral process in the run-up to last month's presidential election which saw incumbent Faure Gnassingbe re-elected for a fourth term with nearly 71 per cent of the vote according to definitive official results.
The opposition, and notably former prime minister and defeated candidate Agbeyome Kodjo, rejected the result alleging serious "irregularities.
Kodjo, having recently been stripped of his parliamentary immunity, will face police charges related to public order offences on Wednesday.
Gnassingbe took office in 2005 in the former French colony upon the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had ruled the country with an iron fist for 38 years.

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First Published: Mar 31 2020 | 11:34 PM IST

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