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Ivorian Ruling Party Accuses Western Media of Sensationalism

By Ruth Nabakwe, Panafrican News Agency, 13 November 2000

Paris, France—Cote d’Ivoire’s ruling Popular Front Party (FPI), has accused the Western media of sensational reporting aimed at plunging the West African country into bloody chaos in the aftermath of the 22 October Presidential elections which socialist Laurent Gbagbo won.

FPI representative in France, Eugene Kouadia Djue said this section of the media, particularly the French press, was fanning ethnic and religious tension between Muslims and Christians in Cote d’Ivoire.

Gbagbo is a Christian, and his Muslim rival Alassane Ouattara of the RDR party, was prevented along with a dozen other candidates from contesting the presidential poll.

Ouattara, Ivorian former Prime Minister was actually ruled out over a controversial constitutional question regarding his nationality.

Kouadia said his mission in France was to present a clear picture on the current events in Cote d’Ivoire in order to avoid an erroneous vision carrying the day ostensibly in the media.

He singled out the left-leaning French newspaper, Liberation, which carried a front-page article suggesting a Christian-Muslim confrontation in Cote d’Ivoire.

They attacked FPI for xenophobia, at times crying wolf about imminent civil war and stoking religious and ethnic emotions, the FPI official further charged the media.

He accused them of attempts to portray Ouattara as the heavy-weight and President Gbagbo as the light-weight of Cote d’Ivoire politics.

Kouadia tried to illustrate his assertion with the Biblical story involving David and Goliath, saying the election of Gbagbo as President was a reality as he symbolised David who emerged victorious over Goliath (Ouattara).

We also do not understand it when people turn around later and claim that the election was illegal, the constitution and the Supreme Court ruling determined the eligibility of candidates, he said, citing articles 40 and 60 of the Ivorian constitution on the guidelines and procedures for presidential elections.

Lashing out at Western double standards, Koudia said that when the Ivorian people made their choice, the western media found all sorts of problems with them, but when it came to Yugoslavia where the people also took to the streets to claim their rights, the West lauded the Yugoslavs’ conduct as a democratic process.

They only saw dead people in Cote d’Ivoire, nothing else was good in their eyes, he added.

Koudia warned that Africa (is) in danger, and should realise the forces working against the interest of the continent.

In the West and even in the United States, they respect their constitution, but when it comes to Africa, the western media want to push people into bloody killings, he observed.

Kouadio said the Ivorian President was open to an international inquiry into the killings of civilians in the aftermath of the 22 October polls.

The political violence, triggered by former junta leader Gen. Robert Guei’s aborted plan to transmute into a civilian president later degenerated into bloody clashes between Gbagbo and Ouattara supporters.

A highlight of the episode was the discovery of some 57 bodies of dead youths on the outskirts of Abidjan following the violence, which is now subject of a government probe. African Development Forum 2000