Mali media to continue strike over journalist jailing

Mali's media announced on Tuesday they would continue a boycott of government coverage in protest over the detention of a journalist who published a letter criticising the former military junta chief.

Boukary Daou was remanded in custody Monday and charged with "incitement to disobedience" after publishing an open letter criticising the salary earned by Captain Amadou Sanogo, leader of a coup that ousted Mali's government last year.

Bamako press club president Makan Kone described the action against Daou, the editor of the Republican daily newspaper, as "an insult to the profession" and "a serious breach of fundamental freedoms".

"That is why, in our general meeting today, we decided to continue until further notice not to cover the activities of the institutions of the republic," he said.

The media last week launched a nationwide strike to protest against Daou's arrest, with the campaign morphing after three days into a blackout of government activities.

The media freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders demanded the "immediate release of Boukary Daou and the abandonment of the proceedings against him", denouncing "a relentless military and judiciary".

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.