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Newspaper fined for publishing opinion poll results

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 9 July 2010, the National Press Council (CNP), the print media regulatory body in Côte d'Ivoire, imposed a fine of three million CFA francs (about US$6,000) on Regie Cyclone Company, publishers of "Le Temps", a pro-government daily newspaper.

Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the fine was as a result of the newspaper's publishing of the results of opinion polls conducted by a research group, Tns-Sofres, on the country's presidential aspirants in the yet-to-be announced presidential elections.

The correspondent said the CNP sanction was in accordance with Section 5 of Article 39 of the Ministerial Order No. 2008-133 of 14 April 2008 on the amendments to the Post Crisis Electoral Code, which states: "It is prohibited to publish or to broadcast estimates of votes or to conduct opinion polls under whatever form, from whatever place after the publication of the provisional electoral roll."

The electoral roll was published nationwide on 2 October 2009.

This is not the first time that "Le Temps" has been fined for a similar offence. On 2 April, the newspaper was slapped with a one million CFA franc fine (about US$2,000).

The correspondent said although a date is yet to be fixed for the country's presidential election, a research group, Tns-Sofres, has predicted a win for President Laurent Gbagbo in a series of polls.

MFWA is deeply concerned about this repressive law that does not only censor the Ivorian media but also stifles academic freedom. The law denies the public access to scientific research.

We call on the Ivorian authorities to, as a matter of urgency, repeal this law as it hinders free expression in the country.

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