Benin suspends RFI broadcasts, questions journalist

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Benin suspended Radio France Internationale broadcasts for 14 hours on Tuesday and questioned one of its journalists after it aired reports on accusations against the president, witnesses said.

The reports aired over the weekend as the tiny West African country celebrated 50 years of independence from France, with some 10 African heads of state visiting for the occasion.

RFI broadcasts were interrupted shortly after midnight on Tuesday and the correspondent, Raissa Gbedji, was questioned for two hours by officials from broadcast regulatory agency HAAC, she told AFP.

"The chairman of HAAC, Theophile Nata, who received me in the presence of his chief of staff, told me that RFI provided too much coverage of the parliamentarians' accusation against the president, spoiling the celebration of the independence anniversary," the correspondent said.

RFI broadcasts in Benin resumed on Tuesday afternoon, according to an AFP journalist. Government officials had not commented on the events.

The Paris-based radio network had reported on a request made by a majority of parliamentarians last week that President Boni Yayi be formally charged and tried by the high court for "abuse of authority and perjury."

Fifty deputies out of the 83 that make up Benin's parliament accused Yayi of showing favouritism to investment firm ICC Services, which allegedly defrauded clients who invested with it.

On July 7, the president fired his interior minister Armand Zinzindohoue in connection with the affair.

Yayi was elected president in March 2006, after pledging to fight corruption.

© 2010 AFP

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