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Togo’s Media Watchdog Warns RFI Over Coverage Bias

TENSIONS escalate in Togo as the media watchdog, High Authority for Audiovisual and Communications (HAAC), issues a warning to Radio France Internationale (RFI), accusing it of biased reporting and dissemination of ‘fake news.’

‘The repeated errors in your reporting are damaging to the image of Togo and violate the fundamental principles of journalism,’ stated HAAC in a warning letter to RFI on Tuesday, emphasizing the need for journalistic neutrality amid political upheaval.


The warning comes amidst a backdrop of increased political tensions following the passage of a controversial constitutional reform, viewed by opposition parties as a ploy to prolong President Faure Gnassingbe’s rule.

HAAC’s warning follows the suspension of authorisations for foreign journalists to cover the April 29 legislative elections, a move criticized by media watchdogs as a suppression of press freedom.

French journalist Thomas Dietrich, known for his critical stance towards authorities, was expelled from Togo shortly after his arrival, highlighting the restrictive environment for media professionals.

The constitutional reform, approved by parliament in April, shifts Togo from a presidential to a parliamentary system, granting significant powers to the ruling party. Critics denounce it as an ‘institutional coup’ designed to circumvent term limits and perpetuate Gnassingbe’s political dynasty.

Under the new system, the presidency becomes largely ceremonial, with executive power vested in the president of the council of ministers, a role filled by the head of the ruling party in parliament. Gnassingbe’s party secured a dominant majority in the recent elections, raising concerns of prolonged rule under the revamped system.

Amidst mounting criticism and accusations of authoritarianism, Togo grapples with a political landscape fraught with uncertainty, as the government asserts control over media narratives while facing scrutiny from international observers.

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