AUGUST 24, 2005
Posted September 8, 2005
At a meeting with local journalists the head of Ivory Coast’s armed forces threatened to ban newspapers that fail to work “in the interests of the nation.” General Philippe Mangou told journalists to check their sources and avoid hate speech. He also warned them to be patriotic, according to local and international news reports.
“Otherwise, we will have to assume our responsibilities and close those newspapers that continue to be apologists for violence and for the rebellion,” Mangou said.
He also called for a press blackout of statements by dissident army officers Mathias Doué and Jules Yao Yao, who have called for the removal of President Laurent Gbagbo.
At the same meeting, Republican Guard commander Dogbo Blé Brunot told journalists, “Ivory Coast is at war, and when a country is at war, even in so-called developed democracies, there is no freedom of the press.”
Ivory Coast has been divided between a rebel-held north and government-held south since 2002, with UN and French troops trying to oversee an uneasy peace.
The army statements came the day before rebels announced they would boycott a planned October 30 presidential election aimed at reunifying the country. The rebels said Gbagbo had skewed key legislation on citizenship and nationality to ensure his victory and exclude from the vote many of their supporters in the north.