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Côte d'Ivoire: Anger and Sarcasm in Citizen Media after the Elections

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011.

After a hopeful start, the presidential elections in Cote d'Ivoire took a dramatic turn that led the country in a seemingly hopeless political stalemate. While the crisis persists, the Ivorian blogosphere seems to be split between either taking the events with a hint of humor and sarcasm or debating passionately the political and legal implications of the latest events. Julie Owono explains:
While the political situation grows tenser everyday, the sense of humor of the Ivorian blogosphere came through and percolated online.

Choosing Humor

Weary of the continuous political infighting and instability of the past years, Ivorian who weighed in on twitter with the hashtag #civ2010 seemed to have chosen to take the current political in strides and a zest of humor.

@sanders225, for instance, was particularly active the day after the elections and he weighed in thusly as both candidates were sworn in (fr):

“Bonjour à tous et bienvenue en Côte d'Ivoire, 1 pays 2 présidents, 3 premières dames #civ2010”

Good morning everyone and welcome to Côte d'Ivoire: 1 nation, 2 presidents, 3 first wives #civ2010

The sarcastic tone of the twitter updates tagged with #civ2010 was ranked as the #1 conversation on the francophone twitterverse for a week on twirus but it might be difficult to fully grasp the humor   of the 45,000 updates ( archived here) without a bit of  context.
For instance, William Ahouma (@Ahouwilliam), who chose not to vote because of the violence after the 1st round  wrote: (fr)

“Je suis content de ne pas avoir voté. Dans cette situation, mon expérience me dit que la solution c'est Jésus”

I, for one, am happy to not have voted. In those situation, experience shows that Jesus is the only solution.

The sentence may seem innocuous to those who don't know the slogans of each candidate. Laurent Gbagbo's slogan was : “The Man of the Situation” and Alassane Ouattara's was: “Solutions for Côte d’Ivoire”.

On Facebook the group “Tous présidents” (We are all presidents) was created in the same vein. The description of the group by its creator is quite telling (fr):

“On en a assez que les politiciens s'amusent avec nous!
alors on a décidé de s'investir chacun dans son salon et de devenir tous présidents de la Côte d'Ivoire! c tout! pour le moment!”

We are tired of politicians just playing around with us. Therefore, we decided that we too will just sit around in our living room and become presidents of Côte d'Ivoire! That's all, for now!

The creator of the group, Jacques Kouame Akpegni shares his , photos à l’appui7 tricks that can lead every Ivorian to the presidential position:

sitting amongst its presidential peers; a humouristic photo montage by JK Akpegni

Irate partisanship on the web

While the tone is light and conciliatory on twitter, it is quite a different beast on facebook. The debates are more frank, maybe driven by the perception that on that social network, the conversations are more “private”.
This polarization is very clear on the fan pages of the candidates where the supporters of each camp don't hesitate to engage in written confrontations.

Laurent Gbagbo's electoral victory was recognized by the Constitutional Court but not the independent electoral commission. Cyrille Guéi, on the On Laurent Gbagbo's page, says he has nothing but contempt for the opponent's camp (fr):

“NOTRE SOUVERAINETE N'EST PAS NEGOCIABLE!!! Et s'il faut qu'on fasse un passage en force on le fera. On a pas peur et on se tient toujours prêts pour la défense de notre patrie. On fera durer cette crise le temps que le monde entier entende la vérité. LMP n'a pas besoin d'afficher ses alliés et ses amis comme le fait le RDR (avec un tissus de mensonge pour faire peur aux ivoiriens). La Côte d'Ivoire a un seul président et c'est Laurent Gbagbo! Quiconque osera l'attaquer nous trouvera sur son chemin.”

Our Sovereignity is not negotiable!! We will prevail and will use force if necessary. We are not afraid and we will always defend our nation. We will make this crisis last as long as it needs to be for people to see the truth. LMP does not need to show off its allies and friends like what the RDR does (plus a web of lies to scare Ivorians). Côte d'Ivoire has only one president and it's Laurent Gbagbo! Anone who dares to get in his way will have to deal with us.

On Alassane Dramane Ouattara page, the voters still urge Laurent Gbagbo to quit the presidency, or risk being kicked out of it.
Hubert Kouadio affirms :

“Le combat pour la liberté et la démocratie continue et se radicalisera si KOUDOU s'accroche au pouvoir.”

The road to liberty and democracy will continue and will get more radical if KOUDOU hangs on to power.

Pour Toofa Cool :

“Au NORD comme au SUD c’est la CI… vous accusez la France pour rien si vous divisez pour pouvoir règner…BOLORE et BOUYGUES sont des groupes Français avec lesquels Laurent Gbagbo a signé des contrats. Il vous ferme les yeux à cause de vos sentiments de haine…ne vous réveillez pas hein !!! nous on avance !!!”

Whether it's the North or the South, it's still Côte d'Ivoire… you want to divide and conquer and pointlessly accuse France in the process… BOLORE and BOUYGUES are French companies with whom Laurent Gbagbo himself signed contracts. He is shutting your eyes by instigating hatred in you…. but please don't wake up !! As for us, we are moving forward !!

Expert Debates

Ivorian citizens are also trying to direct the debate onto the judicial field, either to confirm or deny Gbagbo's victory.
Les citoyens ivoiriens, tentent également autant que faire se peut d’orienter le débat vers des positions plus juridiques, aussi bien pour confirmer ou infirmer la victoire de Laurent Gbagbo. Christian Roland (@Chroland) asks on Twitter:

“Bon les amis, sujet de reflexion: http://tinyurl.com/2b6gtro article 64 nouveau du code electoral? le conseil constitutionnel ne l’a pas appliqué, pourquoi?”

well friends, a topic to ponder: why did the constitutional court not apply the article 64 of the new electoral code? http://tinyurl.com/2b6gtro

The article 64 stipulates that the constitutional court must void the entire election if serious infractions were made. The opponents of this theory argue that article 63 gives the court the authority to have the final decision on the matter. That's what Akwa Bahi JC says in this article entitled: “L’ONU contre le Conseil Constitutionnel” (The UN against the constitutional court) (fr) :

“Comme dans presque toutes démocraties, comme en France, le Conseil Constitutionnel est la plus haute autorité d’un pays. Outrepasser sa décision c’est menacer la souveraineté d’un pays, c’est inconsidérer la souveraineté de la Côte d’Ivoire acquise il y a cinquante ans”

As is the case in almost all democracies like France, the constitutional court is the highest authority of a country. Foregoing its decision would be a threat to the sovereignty of the country, a slap in the face of a sovereignty earned 50 years ago.

Ivoirian netizens want to move forward

While the political and legal marasm continues, the ivorian citizen media moves forward.
2 major events of the “Ivorian ICT” were scheduled before the elections and they still took place as planned. A contest for developpers on open source software took place while Laurent Gbagbo took his oath in his palace on december 4th 2010. One of the organizers Wilfried Akakpo (@toussine) wrote on that day:

“13h de worksphop online, 810 visitors, 1784 comments, 236 participants. An app 70% done.. It was Hack225 ”.

Another event that is still on schedule is the Ivoire Blog Awards and it still accepts submissions. The president of the jury Diaby Mohamed sarcastically wrote on a comment about the awards on facebook:

“Celui qui ose contester ma présidence… pour moi là c'est pas vos affaires de médiation qui n’en finissent pas là … déposez vos dossiers de blogs on va les analyser et puis notre grand conseil va choisir un vainqueur ”

For those who dare to contest my presidency..it's none of your business and all your endless mediations…just drop your blogs’ application forms, we will look at them and our “Big Counsel” will choose the winner.

In Côte d’Ivoire, humor, politics and internet are the ingredients for quite an unusual cocktail.

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011.

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