Management of privately-owned L’Intelligent d’Abidjan newspaper on August 10, 2014, announced a suspension of publications “until further notice”.
The newspaper in a communiqué, said the decision is in protest against the recent “arbitrary” sanctions imposed on it and its manager by the press regulatory body, the Conseil National de la Presse (CNP). The newspaper also accused the CNP of not discharging its mandate thoroughly.
“The Management of L’Intelligent d’Abidjan wishes to inform its readers and partners, practitioners of the sector as well as the general public, both local and international, that the newspaper will not appear until further notice in protest against the sanctions imposed on it by the regulatory body which are in total disregard of the prevailing laws,” said the communiqué issued and signed by Alafé Wakili, manager and legal representative of Socef-Ntic, publishers of the newspaper.
The CNP on July 25, suspended L’Intelligent d’Abidjan for 12 publications because of the refusal of Wakili, to comply with the summons of the Council in connection with investigations into a case involving him and the former managing editor of the newspaper, Youssouf Touré.
According to the management of the newspaper, the decision to suspend publications is the beginning of a series of actions and initiatives aimed at seeking redress for the many “unfair” suspensions. About twelve media organisations and journalists have been fined various sums of money or suspended this year alone.
On January 20, the CNP fined the Notre Voie, Le Jour Plus and Le Nouveau Courrier newspapers FCFA 3,000,000 ($6,000), FCFA 1,000,000 ($2,000) and FCFA 500,000 ($1,000) respectively for publishing false information.
Moussa Traoré, President of the Press Union and Alafé Wakili, were each suspended from writing articles for a period of six months. Their professional identity cards were also withdrawn. The Council also imposed a 52-issue suspension on the Le Quotidien d’Abidjan newspaper. N’Guessan Kouassi and Oula Saint Claver of the Le Jour Plus and Le Nouveau Courrier newspapers respectively were also handed a month’s suspension and their professional identity cards withdrawn.
On February 10, the CNP again suspended the Le Monde d’ Abidjan newspaper for three months. But even before some of the newspapers and journalists could serve their suspensions or barely after serving it, the CNP on April 14, issued a statement suspending Aujourd’hui, Soir Info, Le Quotidien d’Abidjan, (which was banned in January 20, for two months), Le Temps newspapers and the weekly Bôlkotch.
After condemnation from the MFWA and some sections of the Ivorian media, the CNP on April 18, lifted the suspension imposed on three of the newspapers Le Temps, Aujourd’hui and Le Quotidien d’Abidjan leaving the Bôlkotch to serve the full suspension.
The MFWA notes with concern the constant fines imposed on media organisations and journalists in the country. In asmuch as the organisation appreciates the work of the CNP in raising professional standards in the media, the fines have a potential of cowing the media as it is evident by the decision of the L’Intelligent d’Abidjan. We therefore appeal to the Press Council to reconsider its approach in dealing with the unprofessionalism of the media and journalists in the country. We also urge journalists and media organisations to be professional.