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Burkina Faso Lifts Radio Station Restrictions After 'Insulting Niger'

FILE — Radio Oméga, a popular Burkinabe radio station based in the capital, Ouagadougou, broadcasts, May 3, 2022.

OUAGADOUGOU — Burkina Faso's ruling junta Monday said Radio Omega, one of the nation’s most popular radio stations, could resume broadcasting after it had been suspended for airing an interview that was deemed "insulting" to Niger’s new military leaders.

The popular Burkinabe radio station faced suspension on Aug. 10 after running an interview with Ousmane Abdoul Moumouni, the spokesperson of a recently established Nigerien group that was campaigning for the return of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

Speaking at the time of suspension, Rimtalba Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo, Burkina Faso’s communications minister, said Moumouni made "insulting comments with regard to the new Nigerien authorities."

The West African nation's communications minister Sunday released a statement that reversed Radio Omega's suspension, arguing that the ruling junta "very carefully examined" the request made by the Burkinabe media monitoring center.

Burkina Faso remains committed to freedom as opinion and of the press, as well as to the "responsible" carrying out of the journalistic profession, read Ouedraogo's statement, adding that the military government had listened to the "argument that the radio team has learned the lessons of this sanction."

Despite lifting the restrictions placed on Radio Omega, Ouedraogo reminded broadcasting outlets that there is a "requirement of a media discourse which doesn't compromise the chances of our collective victory against the forces of evil and domination of the peoples of the Sahel."

The Burkinabe authorities in recent months have suspended other broadcasting stations, among them French TV outlets LCI, France24 and Radio France Internationale, RFI. The West African junta also expelled correspondents of the French newspapers Liberation and Le Monde.

Burkina Faso underwent two military coups last year that were both triggered by discontent of the failure by authorities to stem a raging jihadist insurgency, developments similar in Mali and Niger.

The Burkinabe junta swiftly declared solidary with their Nigerien counterparts and joined Mali in warning that any military intervention to restore Bazoum would be considered a "declaration of war."