The new regime of Muslim central banker Alassane Ouattara, installed in the Ivory Coast using United Nations troops backed by the Obama administration, suspended all of the country’s opposition newspapers and is reportedly leading a vicious crackdown on political opponents. Human rights activists and Western diplomats spoke out against the assaults, leading to a temporary lifting of the media suspensions this week. But trouble is still brewing.
The week of September 10, the government’s so-called “National Press Council” decided to temporarily ban all six newspapers critical of the new regime. The alleged crime: publishing photographs of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo with his government, which was ousted by ruthless Islamic militias and the UN last year following a contested election outcome. The nation’s highest court declared Gbagbo the winner.
An estimated 3,000 people died, including over a thousand Christians slaughtered by Ouattara’s forces as they marched to Abidjan backed up by international air power. And while the war largely faded after Gbagbo was arrested with UN support, the lawlessness and violence are still ongoing as attacks on police are cited to justify arrests of opponents and the censoring of critical media voices.
"Ivorian people should be allowed to determine for themselves the validity of competing political views, statements and arguments," said a statement issued by the U.S. embassy in Abidjan after the assault on opposition media. The UN “peacekeeping” mission in the Ivory Coast, meanwhile, called the attack on newspapers by the regime it put in power "a very unhealthy sign."
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Photo: Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara escorts U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she arrives at the presidential palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Jan. 17, 2012: AP Images