Côte d'Ivoire: The Surprise Ousting of Pascal Brou Aka from Television Channel RTI

The decision came like a bolt from the blue in late July: The CEO of RTI (Ivorian Radio and Television), Pascal Brou Aka, was ousted from his functions by President Alassane Dramane Ouattara. The news and comments as diverse as they are numerous have travelled around the web like wildfire.

Many Ivorians have been shocked by the decision announced in a terse statement [fr]:

Cette décision est la conséquence de graves dysfonctionnements observés dans la gestion quotidienne de la RTI. Ces dysfonctionnements ont atteint leur paroxysme le samedi 30 juillet dernier. En effet, la direction générale de la RTI n’a dépêché aucune équipe de reportage pour assurer la couverture du retour du président de la République de sa visite aux États-Unis d’Amérique.

This decision is the result of serious irregularities observed in the daily management of RTI. These failures culminated last Saturday, July 30. Indeed the CEO of RTI did not send a reporting team to cover the return of the president from his US visit.

Appointed during the height of the Ivorian  post-electoral crisis to the head of Côte d'Ivoire Television (TCI), then propelled to the direction of RTI following the fall of Laurent Gbagbo, Pascal Brou Aka had the heavy task of relaunching a televison channel which was as tattered on a human level as it was on a material level.

Screen shot of a televised debate on RTI for the presidential elections in November 2010

A week before the relaunch of the new RTI, many Ivorians and observers are surprised by the dismissal. From social networks to newspaper offices, the conclusion is clear: this decision does not come at a good time.

On its Twitter account, the website afreekelection calls this decision incongruous [fr – all links]:

Côte d’Ivoire – Limogeage du DG de la Télévision nationale : Une décision incongrue http://t.co/5lAdvC5 #civ2010#frci#ado#senegal#rti
Côte d'Ivoire – Dismissal of MD* of National Television: An incongruous decision http://t.co/5lAdvC5 #civ2010#frci#ado#senegal#rti

In this article [fr] the site goes even further by asking questions about the background to the situation:

Aussi incongru que cela puisse paraître, comment peut-on imputer à un Directeur Général la responsabilité de l’absence d’une équipe de reportage fût-il pour la venue du chef d’Etat ? On ne peut réduire la fonction du Directeur Général à de simples programmes de reportages.

As unseemly as it may appear, how can a CEO be held responsable for the absence of a reporting team, even if it is for the arrival of the head of state? You cannot reduce the role of CEO to simply coordinating reporting teams.

The Ivorian tweep Jean (@Axiome1) posted a survey from the Ivorian portal Abidjan.net [fr] on his profile to discuss disagreement between Ivorian internet users:

#CIV2010 Sondage: Limogeage de Brou Aka Pascal (abidjan.net) >> Trop sévère à 61.60% ou 1049 votes // Approprié à 30.59% ou 521 votes

#CIV2010 Survey: *Dismissal of Pascal Brou Aka (abidjan.net)>> Too severe 61.60% or 1049 votes** // Appropriate 30.59% of 521 votes

What fuels the skepticism most is the real reason for the ousting of the journalist who hosted the historic debate between Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara in the second round of the presidential elections in November 2010.

According to the weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique [fr], “Brou's independence was embarrassing.” In this report [fr], the magazine announces that the dismissal of Pascal Brou Aka is a result of his desire to cover the daily realities of Ivorians, which was not to the taste of the new authorities.

Whatever the reasons for the decision, it does not go down well with public opinion and many are waiting to see the following chapter.

For now, the transfer took place Tuesday, August 2, 2011 in the RTI premises and the new (acting) CEO Aka Sayé Lazare promised a fresh television channel [fr] on RTI's official Twitter account (@RTI_Officiel [fr])

“Nous ferons les changements indispensables à l'émergence d'une #RTI nouvelle dès le 6 août 2011″ Aka Sayé Lazare #civ2010

“We will make the necessary changes for the emergence of a fresh #RTI from August 6 ” Aka Sayé Lazare #civ2010

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