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Cablegate: Gon Closes Professional Media Center

VZCZCXRO8293
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0641 1841325
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021325Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4400
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHDC
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0702

UNCLAS NIAMEY 000641

DEPT FOR AF/W DENNISON, AF/RSA HARPOLE AND AF/PDPA LISENBY

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI KCOR KPAO NG
SUBJECT: GON CLOSES PROFESSIONAL MEDIA CENTER

1. On June 30 the Ministry of Communication closed Niger's "Maison
de la Presse," a professional media center located in Niamey.

2. In 2005, Nigerien President Mamadou Tandja instructed the
Ministry of Communication to donate to Nigerien journalists a media
center that had been constructed for the Francophonie Games. This
center became the Maison de la Presse, which was intended to give
journalists a place to build media-related capabilities and ethics.


3. According to a press release from the Minister of Communication,
"unfortunately, the Maison de la Presse has more and more become
hostage to some interest groups with hidden goals. If the situation
does not stop, it may compromise the genuine missions of this
jewel." In a conversation later with some members of the Maison de
la Press, the Minister of Communication stated that he was referring
specifically to French and American interests.

4. The closure of the Maison de la Presse is largely a symbolic
gesture, because it is a media center, and not a media outlet. In
fact, new venues have already been found for planned conferences and
events. Post occasionally sponsored events at the Maison de la
Presse, but so did many other governmental and non-governmental
organizations. Most recently, Embassy Niamey's Public Diplomacy
section, in collaboration with the Nigerien Association of Editors
of the Independent Press (ANEPI) organized a two-day media workshop
at the Maison de la Presse to commemorate International Press
Freedom Day on May 3. The topic of the conference was "Freedom of
Expression: Access to Information and Self-Governance." About 98
journalists from state-run and private media from throughout the
country participated in the workshop.

5. The members of the Maison de la Presse have publicly condemned
the closure of the media center and have denied being held hostage
to French and American interests in management of the center.


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