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Côte d’Ivoire15 December 2004

Kofi Annan asked to intervene in militia-backed takeover of state media

On the day of the announced implementation of sanctions against some of the participants in Ivory Coast’s ongoing crisis, Reporters Without Borders has written to UN secretary-general Kofi Annan asking him to intercede in an attempt to restore normality at the state broadcaster RadioTélévision Ivoirienne (RTI).

"RTI was the target of a takeover by force on the morning of 4 November carried out by armed men and supported by militiamen under the orders of the president’s office," the letter said. "Mr. Jean-Paul Dahily, was summarily installed as the new director-general."

Thereafter, Reporters Without Borders said, the state media have on several occasions broadcast lies and disinformation, calls for crimes to be committed, and instructions for street violence.

"We spent a number session monitoring radio and TV broadcasts and we found that, while the streets of Abidjan were prey to looting and violence, RTI and RCI were enthusiastically relaying false information and rumours that encouraged or set off violence," the organisation said. "By means of their live broadcasts, these stations organised the insurrection and egged on the rioters."

Those put in charge by force at RTI on 4 November are still in place, and RTI’s legitimate director-general, Kébé Yacouba, is no longer able to do his job, the letter said. "Even if the Ivorian authorities pay no heed to our requests and protests, state institutions cannot be allowed to continue functioning in an arbitrary manner, but RTI still is. And this situation has not changed for more than a month."

Reached by Reporters Without Borders yesterday, Kébé said he had not been contacted recently by the Ivorian authorities and he did not know what the government intended to do with him.



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