Burkina Faso’s military government has suspended France 24 broadcasts after the TV station aired an interview with the head of al-Qaeda’s North African wing.
The news channel this month aired the interview with Yezid Mebarek, also known as Abu Ubaydah Yusuf al-Anabi, who claimed the title of “emir of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” (AQIM) in 2020 after a French raid killed his predecessor.
By interviewing the head of AQIM, “France 24 is not only acting as a mouthpiece for these terrorists, but worse, it is providing a space for the legitimisation of terrorist actions and hate speech,” Burkina Faso’s minister of communication, Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo, said in a statement on Monday.
France Medias Monde, which operates France 24, was not immediately available for comment on Burkina Faso’s decision.
Relations between Paris and Ouagadougou have deteriorated sharply since Burkina Faso’s military seized power in a coup in October.
In January, Burkina Faso gave France, its former coloniser, one month to withdraw its troops as it ended a military accord that allowed French forces to fight armed groups on its territory.
In recent years, there has been a rise of anti-French sentiment across parts of Central and West Africa, some of which used to be under French colonial administration even as recently as half a century ago.
In March last year, neighbouring Mali also moved to suspend broadcasts by France 24 and French state-funded international RFI radio, accusing the news outlets of reporting “false allegations” that the army killed dozens of civilians. Those allegations were made by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, a United States-based human rights group.