Côte d'Ivoire: Citizens Marching towards another “Orange Revolution”?

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

Although the atmosphere was already quite worrisome in Côte d'Ivoire, the tension level climbed up a few notches in the past few days. After a skirmish on December 12 between the two opposite camps and the prolongation of the cease-fire by Laurent Gbagbo,  Alassane Ouattara and his partisans are now calling on the population to “engage in a pacific and democratic mass protest in order to install the legitimate and legal administration“.

One of the most active (@bzkdjc) twitterer on  #civ2010, the main twitter feed for the Ivorian Elections,  named the upcoming protest the “Naked hands Protesters”:

“Mon 2010è tweet pour #civ2010: MARCHEURS AUX MAINS NUES nous serons ce jeudi. Sans violence, ns ne ferons que marcher.”

My 2010th tweet #civ2010 : NAKED HANDS PROTESTERS, we'll be there on  thursday. Without violence, we will only march.

The protest itself  has been spread trough the country by telephone and by the local Daily Newspapers. FM 105.1 ( Radio Liberté ), a pirate radio launched from the Hôtel du Golf, the current residence of Ouattara's government  informs residents of Abidjan about the route of the demonstration.  Yesterday, when a member of the Government Media Authority of Côte d'Ivoire (CNCA)  came to  national TV and announced that the promoters of the radio will be prosecuted and named the Radio by it's exact FM tune number, a local twitterer (@Sanders225) ironically remarked (fr):

” Sans le savoir,  la #RTI et le CNCA donnent des auditeurs à la radio RHDP sur les105.1 FM #civ2010

“They don't even notice that they are pushing  more Radio listeners  towards RHDP (Ouattara's party) by giving on the air the 105.1 FM wavelength #civ2010″

The demonstration will begin at the Hôtel du Golf, and will end at the Ivorian Radio Television (RTI) office, the only broadcasted national TV in Côte d'Ivoire which is considered a pro Gbagbo media.

Claudius Richmond, an Ivorian twitterer based in South Africa (@cjrichie007 ) wrote this morning on his timeline:

” #NowPlaying Sors De Ma Télé @TIKENJAHFAKOLY dédié à Brou Amessan rdv dm1 à la maison “bleue”#civ2010

#NowPlaying Get out of my TV @TIKENJAHFAKOLY dedicated to Brou Amessan. See you tomorrow at the Blue house (editor's note: the National TV)”

Peace as a Leitmotiv

On the  #civ2010 feed more than ever, “Peace” seems to be the leitmotiv.

Like fellow twitteter @bzkdjc, twitter user @toustoutes invites all Ivorians on Twitter to post statuses on #civ2010 using the expression “Marcheurs aux mains nues” so that the media would spread the word that the protest is non violent. The aim of this is also to prevent Gbagbo's military forces to use their weapons against demonstrators :

#civ2010 Utilisez largement les termes “MARCHEURS AUX MAINS NUES”, ça interdit aux FDS le recours à la violence.

” #civ2010 Use extensively the phrase “Protesters with naked hands”, it will prevent  the use of violence by the FDS (ed note: Government’ military forces) “

Referring to the early International Criminal Court (ICC) announcement on Kenya, @PaixCIV (litterally Peace Côte d'Ivoire) says :

#civ2010 Pas d'appel à violence, Souvenez-vous TPI vous surveille. Personne ne tirera sur personne sur ce fil. Ni ailleurs non plus j'espère.”

#civ2010 No call for violence, Remember International Criminal Court is watching us. No one will be shot on this hashtag. Nor elsewhere I hope.”

Although considerable efforts were made to ensure a peaceful atmosphere on the Twittosphere, some express fear that things may go wrong on Thursday. One could say that a self-imposed moderation of tweets  has been put in place on the #Civ2010 feed to prevent the spreading of rumors : Replying to @Ivoirevox, who tweeted that the protest would be infiltrated by armed mercenaries who would shoot on the FDS, @Koneissa writes:

“@ivoirevox : Stp idiot, ta propagande communiste tu peux la faire ailleurs.Ici, on dévéloppe des arguments.#civ2010

“@ivoirevox: Please you idiot, you can spread your communist propaganda somewhere else. Here we develop arguments. #civ2010″

This didn't prevent people from fearing that things could get out of control. A twitterer and an earlier pro-Gbagbo @dogothetrue warns on his feed:

#civ2010 que Dieu ns donne de voir lundi 20. Qui vivra Vera. Pitié pour toutes ces âmes qui risquent de disparaitre .”

“#civ2010 May God let us see the light of day on Monday December 20th. Who shall live shall see. Have mercy on all those souls who might disappear.”

To counter the potential effects of a reaction by the FDS,  @gabnorev posted a long tweet where pieces of advice are given to demonstrators :

“Pour les lacrymogènes, un foulard imbibé de citron ou vinaigre permet de mieux respirer.”

For teargas, a scarf soaked with lime or vinegar will allow you to breathe”.

All this pushed some Twitter users to organise the monitoring of the demonstration.

Citizen Monitoring of the Demonstration

Some like Diaby Mohamed, a local blogger and one of the promoters of the feed #civ2010 asks what could be implemented to cover the demonstration, a french activist,  Emmanuel Letourneux,  suggests :

“Twitter depuis des telephones portables et des photos et films pour identifier les fauteurs de troubles éventuels #civ2010

“Tweet from mobile phones, pictures and videos to identify troublemakers”.

This brings on the scene wonzomai, the Ushahidi platform deployed to monitor the two rounds of the presidential ballot. The tool will be used to monitor the event of tomorrow, as (@jpehouman) one of it's promoters invites his Ivorian fellow citizens to do :

“pour reporter tt incident lié à la marche d demain en #civ2010 n'hésitez pas à utiliser @wonzomai http://bit.ly/f1U6xepr 1e large diffusion”

“to report any incident related to the protest of tomorrow in #civ2010, use @wonzomai for a broader media dissemination”

Reactions on Gbagbo's side

Abidjan.net is the top  news website by it's number of visits. The site hosts a political forum where many, anonymous or not, come to discuss.

Seplou (a nickname of Gbagbo wich litteraly means the lighthouse-bird in Bété), an anonymous forumer writes:

“La RTI est toujours à cocody elle vous attends à bras ouvert. Tous les candidats à la mort sont la bienvenue. Mais ne pleurnichez pas après hein! Soyez digne dans la douleurs car vous aurez la réponse des FDS! A bon entendeur salut !  (…) Chair à canon de Allase Ouattara, réfléchissez dêh!” “

“The RTI is still waiting for you at cocody (Abidjan borrough) with open arms. All candidates to a premature death are welcome. But do not whine afterwards ! Be dignified in your sorrow because you will have to face the FDS’ (military forces) response ! if the cap fits, wear it ! ! (…) Alassane Ouattara's canon fodder, please think twice ! “

Another anonymous forumer Nyty prevents:

“venez c'est la que votre petit gros devenu ministre de golf dougou va savoir que votre dramane est indesirable,on vous attends venez”

“Do come, this is where your your little fat man who became Golf Hotel's Minister (The Prime minister G. Soro) will find out that your Dramane (Ouattara) is not welcome here,  we are waiting for you, you just come on over”

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

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