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Côte d'Ivoire: Who is in Control of RTI State Television?

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

Confusion surrounds the question of who is currently in control of the Radio Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI), the Ivorian national television station.

On March 31, the Republican Forces (FRCI) rebels loyal to Internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara entered Abidjan, the main city of Côte d'Ivoire. When they reached the RTI's headquarters they were faced with resistance from Gagbo's Defense and Security Forces (FDS). The national television station is mockingly referred to as “Propaganda TV” or “LMP TV” because of the preconception that it favors President Laurent Gbagbo, who denies he lost an election in December 2010 and refuses to step down. RTI has become the stage for a war of control.

The signal was first cut for 24 hours, and on April 1, 2011 Directscoop, a citizen information blog focused on Africa, announced [fr] that the signal of the channel was back:

La Radiodiffusion télévision ivoirienne ( Rti) a recommencé à diffuser son signal vendredi peu après 19 heures

RTI started broadcasting again on Friday shortly past 7pm

Wanyu, a reader, commented:

Un long metrage de Damon : « LA VENGEANCE DANS LA PEAU » est diffusé en ce moment sur la RTI.

A feature film with Matt Damon: “The Bourne Ultimatum” is currently showing on RTI.

Infodabidjan.net [fr], a news website, posted on its YouTube profile this citizen video shot on April 1, 2011:

The caption under the video explains:

Premieres images de la RTI après sa liberation

First images of the RTI after its liberation

A large Facebook group called “The Comittee for the struggle against French interference in Côte d'Ivoire” (Comité de lutte contre l'ingérance Française en Côte d'Ivoire) [fr] gathers roughly 6720 pro-Gbagbo members, shared the video of the RTI's April 2, TV News edition: Militants of the FDS are shown reading a press release, explaining that they were attacked by Ouattara's forces, backed by the United Nations Office in Côte d'Ivoire (ONUCI). They also said the situation at the RTI – as well as in Abidjan – is now under control, and that people should go about their lives as usual.

On Twitter, citizens reacted to this intervention immediately:

@Gare_au_gorille was outraged:

@Gare_au_gorille: la RTI veut 1 bouclier humain en ne relayant pas couvre feu #civ2010 > RESTEZ CHEZ VOUS et faites passer le mot !!!

RTI wants to build a human shield by not passing the word on the curfew #civ2010. STAY HOME and spread the word!!!

@JusticeJFK also:

@JusticeJFK: Intervenant FDS sur la RTI: “nous appelons les populations à vaquer normalement à leurs occupations”. Quelle irresponsabilité!!!

FDS speaker on the RTI: “We call the population to go about their business as usually” This is Irresponsible!!!!

“The committee for the struggle against French interference in Côte d'Ivoire” shared another video, shot the morning of April 2 in the RTI's offices, and as a proof that the state television was now controlled by the pro-Gbagbo FDS. It was re-posted on Youtube by AfricaWeWish:

Stéphane Kassi, an RTI employee explains what happened on Thursday March 31, 2011:

Le jeudi (…) Suite à l'alerte de l'attaque de la rébellion, nous avons essayés de faire un repli, au niveau de la cité qui est en face se trouve à côté (…) Nous ne sommes pas agents de la régie, mais nous avons fait de notre mieux. (…) Les combats ont eu lieu , et nous avons réussi à nous terrer quelque part jusqu'à ce qu'on ait pu nous exfiltrer. Ce matin nous sommes là, comme le pays nous le demande, Nous sommes là pour défendre notre patrie.”

After the alert on the attack by the rebellion was given, we tried to withdraw to the nearest area. We are not agents of the people in charge of the production, but we tried our best. (…) Fighting took place, and we managed to hide somewhere until we were ex-filtrated. This morning we are here, as the country demands; we are here to defend our patrimony.

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

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