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Local journalists prevented from covering Ouattara's visit to the Presidential palace

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 28 April 2011, State Protocol officials in Côte d'Ivoire prevented a group of local journalists from covering President Alassane Ouattara's visit to the country's Presidential Palace at Plateau (Central Abidjan), the country's commercial capital.

The visit was the first by Ouattara since his forces removed Laurent Gbagbo, the former President and defeated candidate of the run-off election, during a raid on 11 April for refusing to leave power.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that only foreign journalists were allowed to cover the president's inspection of the palace with the explanation that the palace could not accommodate a large number of journalists.

The correspondent said the journalists, mainly from pro-Ouattara and independent media, were ordered to wait outside the palace for a later briefing.

In a related development, a tour to assess the state of media outlets which were attacked during the political conflict by the Ivorian Publishers Group (GEPCI) on 27 April, were interrupted by Forces Republicaines de Côte d'Ivoire (FRCI) armed soldier, who threatened the delegation led by Denis Kah Zion, President of GEPCI.

The correspondent said the threat was issued at the premises of "Notre Voie", a pro-Gbagbo newspaper. This was after the delegation had successfully visited the state-owned "Fraternité Matin" newspaper and Edipresse, the newspaper's distribution company.

The soldier allegedly said :"(Are) you there, have I not told you not to come here any more? Henceforth, if you want to come here, you must get permission. You must get a paper stamped at the Golf Hotel (seat of President Ouattara)".

He ordered the photographers to hand over their cameras to him but they resisted.

Meanwhile, Hamed Bakayoko, the acting Minister of Communication, has appealed to the pro-Gbagbo media to resume publication; they have been out of circulation since 17 April due to security concerns.

Bakayoko, who was addressing journalists and media executives as part of the 3 May World Press Freedom Day Celebration in Cocody, a suburb of Abidjan, assured them of protection and that journalists in the country must adhere to the professional ethics of the media.

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