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Côte d’Ivoire 26 July 2005

"Young Patriots" prevent distribution of opposition newspapers

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the action taken yesterday by members of the Young Patriots, an activist organisation that backs President Laurent Gbagbo, to prevent the free flow of information in Abidjan.

"We regret that opposition newspapers are once again being targeted by the Young Patriots," the organisation said. "It is unacceptable that these activists are able to censor newspapers with impunity just because they do not like their political line."

The independent daily Dernière Heure was not available in news stands today in Abidjan because, according to editor Patrice Pohé, men claiming to be Young Patriots gathered outside the newspaper’s premises all day yesterday and prevented employees from working.

Young Patriots yesterday also destroyed copies of the opposition newspapers Le Patriote and Le Nouveau Réveil in various districts of the capital and in the suburb of Bassam. Le Patriote supports Alassane Ouattara’s Rally of Republicans, while Le Nouveau Réveil backs Henri Konan Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire. Young Patriots also went to the publishing house Edipresse to stop newspapers being distributed.

Last year, Young Patriots destroyed or ransacked the premises of several opposition newspapers and threatened many journalists.

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