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Côte d'Ivoire: Gbagbo Rulings Ridiculed on Twitter

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

In the ongoing struggle between presidential candidates Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, which has been going on in the West African nation of Côte d'Ivoire since the elections of November 2010, each day brings a new batch of surprising rulings. (See this article for background to the political unrest).

Everything from the most serious to the most ridiculous measures are being passed. On Wednesday, March 9, 2011, two new decrees from the Gbagbo government set off a wave of humorous Twitter chatter in the country.

United Nations aircraft in Côte d'Ivoire to help with elections in 2009. Image by Flickr user United Nations Photo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

United Nations aircraft in Côte d'Ivoire to help with elections in 2009. Image by Flickr user United Nations Photo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Twitter is very popular in Côte d'Ivoire and discussion, information, and disinformation about the country can be found on the hashtag #civ2010.

UN plane bans

The first measure from the Gbagbo government concerned the United Nations Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (MINUCI) and the French armed forces operation in the country – the so-called Operation Licorne (Operation Unicorn), which is under UN mandate.

The government of outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo, [who refuses to stand down despite international recognition of his electoral opponent Alassane Ouattara as president], announced [fr]:

Aircraft from the United Nations Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (MINUCI) and from Operation Unicorn are banned from flying in and landing on any space within the territory of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, any other special flight and landing operation is subject to prior authorization from the minister of transport. We must ‘preserve the completeness and integrity of the national territory and the security of people and property.’

Ivorian tweeps found this ruling hilarious, and the comments flowed. @ivoryunite announced:

@ivoryunite: Pour ne pas perdre la face, LG ne prend de décret pour interdire les vols de licorne et ONUCI. Il se réfugie derrière 1 arrêté. #civ2010

@ivoryunite: To save face, LG [Laurent Gbagbo] doesn't [personally] order any decrees banning Unicorn and MINUCI flights. He is taking shelter behind an official order. #civ2010

But Twitter user @MastahBoobah took a more mocking tone:

@MastahBoobah: Dernieres nouvelles! Gbagbo nationalise les oiseaux de Cote d'Ivoire afin d'appliquer l'interdiction de vols de l'Onuci et Onu #civ2010

@MastahBoobah: Breaking news! Gbagbo nationalizes birds in Cote d'Ivoire in order to enforce the ban on flights by ONUCI and UN #civ2010

To answer the question of how this measure is going to be applied in view of the financial and technical difficulties involved,  @Hager55 gives a fantastical, yet humorous, solution:

@Hager55: #civ2010 vraiment je comprend sa collaboration avec les chinois ces pr importer les bambous de chine et les planter afin barrer le ciel

@Hager55: #civ2010 honestly I can understand his collaboration with the Chinese it's to import Chinese bamboo and plant it to block the sky

Referring to the fact that Laurent Gbagbo is losing ground in Côte d'Ivoire, @JusticeJFK sighs:

@JusticeJFK: Gbagbo est un vrai rigolo! Espace terrestre à coté de toi même tu maîtrises pas, c'est espace aérien tu veux contrôler? Pfff!!! #civ2010

@JusticeJFK: Gbagbo is really funny! You can't even control the ground you're standing on, and you want to control the airspace? Yeah, right!!! #civ2010

Ado Gérard K (@nightsnake1975), makes fun of the barrage of bans from the Gbagbo government:

@nightsnake1975: #civ2010 Il est desormais interdit a tout oiseau au plumage blanc de voler au dessus du territoire de CI

@nightsnake1975: #civ2010 All birds with white feathers are henceforth banned from flying over IC territory

All joking aside, for @Kanazan this ban was a way to prevent Gbagbo opponent Alassane Ouattara from returning to Côte d'Ivoire from the African Union summit in Addis Ababa:

@Kanazan: gbagbo veut empecher ado de rentrer au pays, c'est puerile et ridicule #civ2010

@Kanazan: Gbagbo wants to stop Ado [Alassane Dramane Ouattara] from reentering the country, it's childish and ridiculous #civ2010

Cocoa seizures

The second measure enacted by the Gbagbo government was a veiled threat, which came in the form of an announcement: the intended seizure of a portion of the Ivorian cocoa stocks held by multinationals to settle the taxes these companies owe the state.

The #civ2010 hashtag went into high gear after that, with all sorts of responses: commentaries, humor and retweets of the message. For tweep @nightsnake1975, the threat means that the regime needs money:

@nightsnake1975: @Sanders225 La raison est simple, plus de sous, il veut les forcer a donner un peu de sous #civ2010

@nightsnake1975: @Sanders225 The reason is simple, more cash, he wants to force them to give a little cash #civ2010

Simon Rouvoy (@rouvroys) sadly regrets the nationalization measures that are taking place as the country is falling to ruin:

@rouvroys: Quand LG aura fini de tout nationaliser il sera propriétaire de ruines habitées par des cadavres. iI faut l'arrêter. #civ2010

@rouvroys: When LG [Laurent Gbagbo] has finished nationalizing everything he will be the owner of ruins inhabited by corpses. He must be stopped. #civ2010

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

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