Mali media to strike over journalist's arrest

Mali's media announced on Monday the launch of a nationwide strike to protest against the arrest of a reporter by the war-torn country's intelligence services.

The journalists agreed at their general assembly to shut down until the release of Boukary Daou, the editor of the Republican daily newspaper who was detained last week in the capital Bamako, they said.

"We decided at the end of our meeting not to publish and not to broadcast over the airwaves until the release of our detained colleague," said Sambi Toure, publisher of Bamako's Info Matin newspaper.

Almost all outlets are expected to take part in the "Dead Media" campaign, which begins on Tuesday.

Daou was arrested on Wednesday after publishing an open letter criticising the salary earned by Captain Amadou Sanogo, leader of a coup that ousted Mali's government last year and paved the way for Islamist rebels to seize over half the country.

The letter, purporting to be from frontline soldiers and addressed to acting President Dioncounda Traore, said the troops would stop fighting if Sanogo's pay was not reviewed within two weeks.

"We have learned that while we die -- we, in the great desert -- Captain Sanogo, for launching a coup and having put the country in the situation we now see, is to receive a salary of four million CFA (6,000 euros, $8,000) a month," stated the letter signed by a Captain Toure.

Sanogo was installed in February as head of a military reform committee, a post created for him as an incentive to accept a transitional government tasked with steering the country to elections.

He had led a group of fellow mid-level officers to overthrow then-president Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22 last year, upending what had been considered one of west Africa's most stable democracies.

The coup precipitated the fall of northern Mali to Islamist militants linked to Al-Qaeda but a military intervention by French and African troops chased the rebels from the region's main cities.

However, fighting continues in desert areas of northeastern Mali where armed Islamists are entrenched.

"We are in a war situation," Traore told a media conference in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott.

"Every Malian must be acutely conscious of the possible repercussions of what he says or writes, because encouraging troops to desert from the frontline... goes beyond freedom of the press."