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Key Burundi news site suspended over defamation probe

October 13, 2018

Burundi’s main, pro-government news website has been suspended over a defamation probe, a judicial source said Saturday.

The website Ikiriho — which has some 350,000 visitors daily and is one of the only sources of news on the troubled east African country — has been forced to shut temporarily due to its being investigated for defamation over an article accusing a local bank of money laundering, the source told AFP.

A letter from state prosecutor Sylvestre Nyandwi to Ikiriho’s director on Friday, seen by AFP, confirmed the site’s suspension. “In the context of the investigation… Ikiriho is suspended,” it said.

The website was created by Donatien Ndayishimiye, a former secret service official, and is seen as close to government.

A high-ranking Burundi official, however, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the site’s closure was in reality due to a “clan war” within government.

Burundi’s independent media houses were largely shut down by government in 2015 as President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial third term in office, sparking civil unrest. Scores of journalists later fled the country due to the crackdown on the media.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.