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Suspension of pro-Gbagbo papers lifted

18 September 2012, 14:04

Abidjan - Ivory Coast's National Press Council on Monday said it would temporarily lift the suspension of newspapers seen as close to former president Laurent Gbagbo.

The CNP last Thursday suspended, for up to two weeks, six dailies close to Gbagbo who is in prison at the International Criminal Court in The Hague where he faces trial for crimes against humanity.

Gbagbo was defeated in November 2010 elections by Alassane Ouattara, but refused to step down and named his own ministers, triggering a showdown that claimed some 3,000 lives before he was arrested.

On Monday, CNP president Raphael Lakpe told AFP: "We decided to suspend the sanction that hit the newspapers, in the context of ongoing mediation with the association of press publishers of Ivory Coast and the dialogue, truth and reconciliation commission.

"We want to give a chance to these mediations."

The dailies would therefore be published again on Tuesday, he said.

The suspensions had been imposed last Wednesday and none of the papers concerned - Le Temps, Aujourd'hui, Le Nouveau Courrier, Lg Info, Le Quotidien d'Abidjan and L'Alternative - were on the newstands Thursday.

Media freedom

Another paper, Notre Voie, the mouthpiece of Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front, has already been suspended by the CNP, until Saturday.

The suspension of the opposition newspapers had been criticised by diplomats and media freedom groups.

The CNP accused the papers of publishing photos of Gbagbo and those close to him, who are now in jail, with captions detailing ministerial posts given to some of these aides during the post-electoral crisis.

The CNP ruled that the photo captions were "seditious" and "of a nature to prolong the post-electoral crisis", by giving the impression that there were two governments in Ivory Coast.

Pro-Gbagbo papers are frequently suspended by the CNP, mainly on account of their refusal to acknowledge Ouattara's victory at the polls in 2010.

The west African country's press is known for being strongly partisan and virulent in its editorials, but it has a restricted circulation.



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