3 August 2009

Cote d'Ivoire: American Embassy's National Daily Press Review

This daily press review is compiled by the Information Section of the Public Affairs Office of the American Embassy in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Cote d'Ivoire's peace process, especially the upcoming presidential elections set for November 29, dominated Ivorian news Monday and on the weekend. The visit of American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson to Cote d'Ivoire was also a subject of front-page stories in many Ivorian dailies today.

1. Fraternite Matin (a state-owned daily): "We're working so that the polls take place on November 29," the paper quoted Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro as saying. Mr. Soro, the paper said, was speaking over the weekend during a meeting with government institutions involved in the preparation of the upcoming presidential elections in Cote d'Ivoire. "We must meet the November 29 deadline; I want to ask the CEI [Independent Electoral Commission], INS [National Institute of Statistics] and ONI [National Office of Identification] to work in order to achieve this objective," the Prime Minister reportedly said. The meeting, the paper said, focused on data processing following the voter registration and population identification programs. The paper further quoted the Ivorian Prime Minister as saying that the electoral process has now reached "an important stage;" and that it has become "necessary to know who wants the elections to be held and who does not want them."

2. Earlier over the weekend, Fraternite Matin announced that the final electoral roll to be used in the coming elections will be published on October 22, 2009, quoting Meite Sindou, the Prime Minister's spokesperson. The spokesperson, who was addressing a press conference last Friday, reportedly said: "The number of voters will be known only after data processing is completed and after any dispute relating to the electoral roll has been settled."

3. L'intelligent d'Abidjan (an independent daily) published another opinion poll conducted by SOFRES [a French institution] declaring the Ivorian incumbent President, Laurent Gbagbo, "winner" in a second round of the upcoming presidential elections. The paper attributed this information to the French weekly journal Jeune Afrique (August 2-8, 2009 issue). The paper recalled a previous survey conducted a couple of days ago by the same polling institution that showed Gbagbo ahead in voting intentions. "Ouattara the big loser," said a banner headline in Notre Voie (a daily close to the ruling FPI party) in reference to the recent opinion poll. Meanwhile, Le Nouveau Reveil (a daily close to the former ruling PDCI-RDA party) questioned the credibility of this opinion poll. It quoted the Ivorian opposition figure, Alassane Dramane Ouattara, who denounced "A survey conducted with the backing from people at the Palace." According to the paper, Mr. Ouattara, who is also the leader of the opposition RDR party, was addressing a political rally Saturday in the central city of Daloa.

4. In a prominent story, Nord-Sud Quotidien (a daily close to the opposition) informed readers that President Gbagbo's security guard blocked the convoy of Alassane Dramane Ouattara in the central city of Gagnoa as the latter was on a campaign tour in the region. According to the report, Ouattara's campaign was briefly stopped because of President Gbagbo's presence in the region.

5. The visit of American civil rights leader Jesse Jackson to Cote d'Ivoire was also a subject of front-page stories in many Ivorian dailies today. Jackson is expected in Abidjan on August 10-13, 2009 said a story in Fraternite Matin. According to the paper, the African-American political leader is coming to Abidjan as "a special guest" of Charles Ble Goude, the leader of COJEP - the Pan-African Congress of Young Patriots. The report said that President Gbagbo and Reverend Jackson will co-chair the Summit of COJEP on the theme: "Conflict Resolution in Africa by Africans: The case of Cote d'Ivoire." The paper said Jackson will also take part in a meeting with Ivorian religious leaders on August 12 and travel to the southeast town of Krindjabo where he will be crowned by the people of the city. On the reason for choosing Reverend Jackson to attend this summit, the paper quoted Ble Goude as saying: "The choice of this personality is to trace the long journey of Blacks to freedom that was culminated by the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States."

6. Still on Reverend Jackson's visit to Abidjan, Le Temps (a daily close to the ruling FPI party) carried a prominent story describing this invitation as "Ble Goude's master stroke." "Reverend Jackson is not coming only for COJEP. He's not coming to support a clan. We're inviting Ivorians from different political background to warmly welcome him." [NOTE: Since February 2006, the United Nations Security Council has had a travel ban in place and also frozen the assets of three political figures in Cote d'Ivoire accused of hampering efforts to bring peace to the country, including Charles Ble Goude. He is a leader of the Young Patriots movement loyal to President Gbagbo, which called supporters into the streets to demand the departure of UN and French peacekeepers.]

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