Mauritania private newspapers on sale after month’s absence

NOUAKCHOTT – Privately owned newspapers went back on sale for the first time in Mauritania o Wednesday. This is after paper shortage forced them off the shelves and prompted complaints from the national press union. The newspapers have been off the shelves for more than a month.

About two-thirds of private publications’ costs are covered by a government-funded printing press in the French and Arabic-speaking West African nation, such media are barred from publishing advertisements from public bodies to raise their own funds.

“The Nouakchott Daily” and the weekly Arabic-language “Al-Akhbar” were available on the shelves in the capital on Wednesday. A source close to the finance ministry said the government had to intervene to assist in funding new print runs and pay the salaries in arrears of national printing press workers.

“It’s satisfying to reappear after a month away, said president of the RPM private journalists union, Moussa Samba Sy. The loss of the print runs caused some publications “problems that make a difficult situation worse”. The union made accusations I December that the government was limiting access to information to state media alone.

An international campaign group, Reporters Without Borders, said in August that Mauritanian journalist were arrested and questioned “to reinforce the government’s control over private press,” saying that it was “impossible to criticise the state’s actions without being called a political opponent”.

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