A journalist has gone missing in Mali under the rule of the junta, after helping to organize a press conference calling for the release of a detained colleague, according to his collective association, the Collective for the Development of the Republic (CDR).
Aliou Toure, who served as the CDR’s administrative secretary, has been unaccounted for since Thursday evening, and all attempts to contact him have been unsuccessful, said the CDR in a statement.
Aliou Toure played a key role in setting up the press conference that aimed to secure the release of Mohamed Youssouf Bathily, also known as Ras Bath, a prominent figure in the CDR who has been in custody since March 13.
Ras Bath had claimed that former prime minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, who died in detention a year ago, was “assassinated”.
Maiga had served as prime minister from 2017 to 2019 under President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, but was overthrown by army officers in August 2020 amid widespread protests over his handling of the jihadist insurgency in Mali.
Aliou Toure had taken over Ras Bath’s radio program on Renouveau FM before his disappearance.
The CDR, in its statement, emphasized that the state has a responsibility to guarantee the freedom and security of all citizens, including journalists.
Mali has become a challenging environment for journalists, with dissenting voices struggling to be heard amidst the presence of armed groups, jihadist violence, and pressure from the authorities and the military regime, warned Reporters Without Borders (RSF) earlier this week.
The “Maison de la presse”, an organization that defends media workers, also expressed concern and called on the authorities to ensure Aliou Toure’s safe return.