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Ivorian media fuel anti-French hostility

Ongoing negotiations: Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, left, answers reporters as opposition leader Alassane Ouatarra, right, looks on after their meeting at an hotel, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, December 5, 2010. Mbeki tried to mediate the nation's growing political crisis Sunday as hundreds protested in the country's north, a day after both candidates in the disputed election said they were now president.

A climate of hostility towards the French news media is being encouraged by Côte d’Ivoire’s state-owned radio and TV stations and certain privately-owned newspapers in Abidjan that support President Laurent Gbagbo, such as Le Temps and Notre Voie, Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

“Our priority is respect for the safety of journalists,” RSF secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “We are very disturbed that the national radio and TV have named foreign media and some of their staff and have blamed them for the current turmoil. This is dishonest and dangerous. “When the situation in Côte d’Ivoire is clearly very unstable and journalists are liable to be targets, it is also wrong for French elected officials to cast oil on the flames,” he said, referring to a statement by two French parliamentarians sympathetic to Gbagbo.

Julliard added: “The media are not responsible for the discord. They reported the provisional results announced by the Independent Electoral Commission just as many of them covered today’s ceremony installing Laurent Gbagbo for another term as president. Their job requires them to report all relevant developments.”

State-owned Radio-Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) accused the French 24-hour TV news station France 24 Friday of wanting to “destabilise the country” by broadcasting the Independent Electoral Council’s proclamation of provisional results, according to which opposition politician Alassane Ouattara won last month’s presidential election. It showed a photo of France 24’s local correspondent and a close-up of a visiting France 24 reporter.

The accusation came a day after the National Broadcasting Council (CNCA) suspended local retransmission of France 24 and other international radio and TV news stations (more information). Le Temps wrote on December 2 that “the French media are concealing the reality” and “are showing bad faith.” The same day, Notre Voie ran the headline: “Election second round, lies and disinformation from France 24 and RFI.”

Two French Socialist Party parliamentarians, Henri Emmanuelli and François Loncle, meanwhile issued a joint statement Friday, criticising “most of the French media” and “a certain number of politicians” of meddling in Côte d’Ivoire’s elections.

“Whenever Africa is concerned, they are always champions at giving lessons,” the statement said. “They must allow the Ivorian electoral process to carry through to completion and respect the country’s rules and institutions (...) and they must stop intervening without restraint, making peremptory judgements about African countries that want to determine their own destiny.”

The Constitutional Council announced Friday that Gbagbo won the election with more than 51 per cent of the votes, invalidating the Independent Electoral Commission’s provisional results, according to which Ouattara won with 54.1 per cent of the votes. Gbagbo was sworn in for another term Saturday.

Date posted: December 6, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 121