- During the last week, Togolese authorities have allowed seven private radio and TV stations to resume their broadcasts, thus reversing the trend of censorship after the coup earlier this month. Several opposition broadcasters are however still off the air and media are threatened into self-censorship.
After being shuttered for more than a week, 'Radio Fréquence 1', 'Radio Carré Jeune', 'Radio Djabal'nour' and 'Radio Zion', and the privately-owned television stations TV7 and Zion were allowed to resume broadcasting on 18 February 2005, while 'Radio Lumière' was allowed to go back on the air on 21 February.
Togolese authorities thus were reversing a crackdown on the country's independent broadcast media. Between 7 and 15 February, the government's High Council for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC) had ordered the closure of a total of nine radio and television stations, citing "tax reasons" or charges of "inciting civil disobedience and revolt."
Jacques Djakouti, the President of the Union of Independent Radio and Television Stations of Togo (URATEL), says that negotiations with the HAAC and the Communications Minister had concluded late in the evening of 18 February and that, according to the Minister, de facto President Faure Gnassingbé had agreed to let the radio stations back on the air.
URATEL said three other privately-owned radio stations -, 'Radio Nana FM', 'Radio Kanal FM' and 'Radio Nostalgie' - should be able to resume broadcasting in the next few days subject to their withdrawing a complaint brought against the HAAC for in relation to the suspension.
These three stations, who were charged with "inciting hate and revolt" under Togo's new press code, claim the suspension is invalid as the law has not yet been promulgated, according to information gathered by the Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF).
Radio Nana FM programme director Faustin Woussou told RSF that a bailiff had removed the seals placed by the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ART&P) on the stations on 18 February.
The French media watchdog group today said it had "acknowledged the Togolese authorities' decision" to allow seven stations to resume their broadcasts, but it called on the authorities to permit all closed media outlets to resume operations. "We request the reopening of all the Togolese media, and we will closely monitor relations between the government, the HAAC and journalists," RSF said in a statement.
The crackdown on Togo's privately-owned broadcasters started soon after the armed forces placed Mr Gnassingbé in the presidency after his father, President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, had died. The power transition has been defined a military coup by the international community and the Togolese opposition.
While most state-controlled media in Togo have reported amply on the negative international reactions to Mr Gnassingbé's takeover, they have been careful not letting opposition politicians criticise the acting state leader. Most private broadcasters have however been somewhat more open on the national opposition to the coup.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.