/ 12 May 2011

Press freedom denied in Côte d’Ivoire

Press Freedom Denied In Côte D'ivoire

The government may have changed in the Côte d’Ivoire, but a question mark hangs over press freedom.

A month after the fall of Laurent Gbagbo, newspapers loyal to him are failing to appear, and one — the daily Notre Voie — is even under armed occupation by troops loyal to the new president Alassane Ouattara.

“The absence of an opposition press constitutes a major blow to press freedom in Côte d’Ivoire,” said the press freedom watchdog, Reporters Without Borders.

“The government of Alassane Ouattara raises expectations in the field of respect of liberties. It must satisfy them.”

But a speech to mark World Press Freedom Day by the interior and communication minister Hamed Bakayoko gave cause for concern.

“Freedom yes, but it has its limits,” he said. “You cannot destabilise the social fabric just because you are a journalist.”

Recently, the daily Nord-Sud published a picture of the editor of Notre Voie, César Etou, which accused him of fanning “the flames of hatred”. It said he had contacted human rights groups to complain about the alleged threat to the rights of the ex-president’s wife, Simone Gbagbo, and her entourage since their arrest. — guardian.co.uk