Gbagbo TV broadcasts violent anti-French messages

3rd April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Ivory Coast's state television, controlled by strongman Laurent Gbagbo, who is fighting off an offensive by supporters of rival Alassane Ouattara, broadcast virulently anti-French messages on Sunday.

"A Rwandan genocide is being prepared in Ivory Coast by Sarkozy's men," read a ticker running across the screen, referring to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the 1994 massacre of 800,000 in Rwanda in just three months.

"The French army has occupied the Felix Houphouet-Boigny airport, we are in danger," read another.

The RTI television station, a vital means of communication for Gbagbo to his loyalists, was briefly captured by pro-Ouattara fighters on Thursday night before Gbagbo troops regained control and restored the signal.

A message was played on Sunday in which Damana Pickas, a leader of the "Young Patriots", Gbagbo's most fervent backers, called for mobilisation.

"It is the people's army. The army has become pure, the Republic has become pure," he said, after the defections to the rival camp.

"We need all the patriots, the resistance, to take to the streets. There are times when death is better than dishonour. But do not doubt our victory," he said.

Fiery Young Patriots leader Charles Ble Goude, who has called all Ivorians "willing to die for their country" to enlist in Gbagbo's army, making almost daily appearances on the channel, has not been seen on television since the Abidjan offensive began.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), said Sunday it was likely RTI was being broadcast "from a villa in Abidjan, from a mobile truck."

Ouattara's government said in a statement Saturday his rivals were broadcasting from a mobile truck "to continue their propaganda to destroy Ivory Coast. "

"This vehicle is the subject of research by the Republican Forces (pro-Ouattara) and will be destroyed as soon as possible," said the Ouattara camp.

Reporters Without Borders said: "Intense street fighting is being compounded by a war of communication and information.

© 2011 AFP

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