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In Ivory Coast, police harass pro-Ouattara editors

Bad news: People read newspapers displayed at a stand in Cocody, Abidjan, after provisional results were announced by Ivory Coast's electoral commission November 4, 2010.

Ivorian police in the economic capital, Abidjan, interrogated and issued summonses for questioning last week for editors of newspapers favourable to former presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara, according to local journalists. The UN has recognised Ouattara as the president-elect since disputed November 2010 runoff elections against President Laurent Gbagbo.

Police and an assistant prosecutor questioned Editor Jacob Kessi of Nord-Sud, and Le Nouveau Réveil Editor Patrice Yao and reporter Tiémoko Antoine Assalé Friday about several stories in their newspapers that reported statements made by the Ouattara camp, and accused them of "calling the army to mutiny, inciting the public not to recognise the authorities, and inciting hatred and violence," Kessi told CPJ. The journalists denied the accusations to CPJ, saying they were reporting facts.

In an ongoing struggle to gain power over the media, Gbagbo issued a decree on February 4 that sacked the head of Ivory Coast's official print media regulator, the National Press Council (CNP), and dismissed its board, according to news reports.

"After seizing control of the print media regulatory agency, the administration of President Laurent Gbagbo is now using the police to harass newspapers favorable to Alassane Ouattara," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. "We condemn these actions and call on the administration to adhere to the constitution, which guarantees press freedom."

Several editors of pro-opposition Ivorian newspapers--including dailies Le Démocrate and Le Jour Plus--have received police summonses since Thursday over coverage favourable to Ouattara, according to local press freedom group Ivorian Committee for the Protection of Journalists.

Date posted: February 20, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 179