Wednesday 21 February 2018

Mauritania private newspapers on sale after month's absence

Mauritania private newspapers on sale after month's absence
(AFP 01/18/18)

Privately-owned newspapers went back on sale in Mauritania on Wednesday for the first time in more than a month, after a paper shortage forced them off the shelves and prompted complaints from the national press union.

A government-funded printing press covers two-thirds of private publications' costs in the French and Arabic-speaking West African nation, while such media are barred from publishing advertisements from public bodies to raise their own money.

On Wednesday, "The Nouakchott Daily" and the weekly Arabic-language "Al-Akhbar" were available in kiosks in the capital, an AFP journalist said.

A source at the finance ministry said the government had intervened to help fund new print runs and pay the salaries in arrears of national printing press workers.

"It's satisfying to reappear after a month away," Moussa Samba Sy, president of the RPM private journalists union, told AFP.

He said the loss of print runs caused some publications "problems that make a difficult situation worse".

The RPM union accused the government in December of deliberately limiting access to information to state media alone.

International campaign group Reporters Without Borders said in August that Mauritanian journalists were arrested and questioned "to reinforce the government's control over the private press", adding that it was "impossible to criticise the state's actions without being called a political opponent".

Additionally, five private television stations had their programming suspended in late October over a reported financial dispute with the state broadcaster TDM.

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