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Ivorian television presenter Hermann Aboa was released on bail on 30 December after five months in prison. Aboa, a presenter with national state-run public broadcaster Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI), continues to face prosecution on a range of charges, including threatening the nation’s defences, attacking and conspiring against state authorities, undermining national territorial integrity and attacking public order. Aboa’s lawyer said he is due to be examined on the substance of the charges in the coming days. In July the presenter was detained for moderating a TV talk show series, launched during the crisis that followed the disputed November 2010 elections, which lauded former leader Laurent Gbagbo, who controlled the station before he was ousted in April by forces loyal to his opponent, current president Alassane Ouattara.
Three journalists in the Ivory Coast were taken into police custody on Thursday. César Etou, Boga Sivori and Didier Dépry from daily newspaper Notre Voie were taken in for police questioning on suspicion of insulting the head of state and harming the national economy. Publisher Etou and Chief Political correspondent Sivori were questioned about an article that appeared in the newspaper about 40 new Mercedes official cars made available to members of the government, while the assistant editor Dépry was questioned about an article from the newspapers front page regarding the value of the CFA franc.
The Ivorian government has suspended a newspaper for twelve days over an opinion piece that criticised a recent White House meeting with African leaders. The column in Les Temps newspaper — which supported former president Laurent Gbagbo — was originally published online by a blogger critical of President Ouattara. It called Obama a “gang boss”, while describing an alleged conspiracy among the recently elected leaders of Benin, Niger, Guinea, and Ivory Coast to seize Africa’s riches. In its ruling, the state-run National Press Council called the writings “unacceptable”. The council previously suspended Le Temps for six editions over an 11 June column by reporter Germain Sehoué that claimed the Ouattara government was dominated ethnic groups from the North. The council suspended Sehoué from writing for two months, accusing him of “inciting tribal hatred and revolt” and “threatening the consolidation of peace in Ivory Coast.”
Security forces opened fire on demonstrators in Abidjan on Tuesday, killing four people. They were protesting against the deaths of seven female protesters and marking International Women’s Day. Ivory Coast has seen an increase in violence recently, with a rising number of attacks on journalists and media organisations.