Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Benin: Authorities "gag" media on corruption allegations involving President

Source: International Freedom of Expression eXchange and Media Foundation for West Africa

On 3 August 2010, the Benin authorities, threatened both local and foreign media with consequences should they fail to abide by ethics of the profession, especially in the recent corruption allegations levelled against President Boni Yayi.

More than half of the country's members of parliament have linked President Yayi to corruption. They claimed he offered illegal assistance to Investment Consultancy and Computering Services (ICC), an insurance company, which was reported to have funded his campaign.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent in Benin reported that a statement issued by the authorities after an extraordinary cabinet meeting said that the government was ready to provide the necessary information regarding the matter.

The statement emphasised that the relevant authorities will deal with any media house that breeches the ethics of the profession.

The correspondent said the threat came in the wake of demands from Members of Parliament (MP) for President Yayi to be tried on charges relating to "abuse of authority and perjury".

On 2 August, the authorities halted the transmission of Radio France International (RFI) in the country for about 14 hours, after RFI had announced that it would discuss the MPs' request on its popular talk show programme "Appels sur l'actualite". On 3 August, Raïssa Gbédji, RFI's correspondent in Cotonou, the capital, was summoned for interrogation by Théophile Nata, the president of the media regulatory body, Higher Authority for Audiovisual Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC).