"By opening its branches to the first head of AQIM, France 24 not only acts as a communication agency for these terrorists, worse it offers a space to legitimize terrorist actions and hate speech conveyed to satisfy the evil aims of this organization on Burkina Faso," said a statement signed by government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo.

"The government has therefore decided responsibly, and in the name of the higher interest of the Nation, the suspension sine die of the broadcasting of France 24 programs throughout the national territory," the text continues.

On Monday morning, around 08:00 GMT, the channel's signal was not yet cut, according to AFP journalists in Ouagadougou.

On March 6, France 24 broadcast written answers from Abu Obeida Youssef al-Annabi, the head of AQIM, to about fifteen questions asked by the journalist of the French channel and specialist in jihadist issues, Wassim Nasr.

"The government is sorry to see that the leader of a terrorist organization like AQIM and recognized as such by the entire international community, can benefit from the editorial largesse of France 24 to speak at length on the channel," Monday's statement said.

A protester demands the departure of the French ambassador and French forces from Burkina Faso, in Ouagadougou, January 20, 2023 © OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP/Archives

In early December, the Ouagadougou authorities had already suspended the broadcasting of Radio France Internationale (RFI), the same group as France 24, France Médias Monde.

RFI was accused of having relayed "a message of intimidation" attributed to a "terrorist leader".

As in Mali

RFI and France 24 have also been suspended in Mali, also governed by a military junta, for a year.

Both media, which closely cover African news, are widely followed throughout French-speaking Africa.

"In the noble fight to liberate our country from the barbarity of terrorist hordes and armed bandits, the government warns that it will remain intransigent in defending the vital interests of our people against all those who would play megaphones in the amplification of terrorist actions and hate speech and division conveyed by these armed groups," said the Burkinabe government.

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been caught in a spiral of violence perpetrated by jihadist groups linked to the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, which has left a total of 10,000 dead - civilians and soldiers - according to NGOs, and some two million displaced.

Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who came to power in a coup six months ago, had expressed in February his "intact determination" to fight the jihadists, despite the multiplication of attacks.

Captain Ibrahim Traoré (c), head of Burkina Faso's ruling junta, in Ouagadougou, March 4, 2023 © OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT / AFP/Archives

Relations between France and Burkina Faso have deteriorated since Captain Traoré came to power.

In January, the Ouagadougou authorities demanded and secured the departure of the French Sabre force.

They had also asked for the departure of the France ambassador, Luc Hallade, who was recalled to Paris for "consultations" and who has still not been replaced.

Finally, in early March, Burkina denounced a military assistance agreement signed in 1961 with the France.

© 2023 AFP