The National Press Council (CNP), the print media regulatory body in Côte d’Ivoire, imposed a fine of three million CFA Francs (about US$6,000) on Regie Cyclone Company, publishers of Le Temps, apro-government daily newspaper.
The fine was as a result of the newspaper’s publishing of the results of opinion polls conducted by a research group, Tns-Sofres, on the country’s presidential aspirants in the yet-to-be announced presidential elections in the country.
The CNP sanction was in accordance with Section 5 of Article 39 of the Ministerial Order No. 2008-133 of 14 April 2008 on the amendments to the Post Crisis Electoral Code, which states: “It is prohibited to publish or to broadcast estimates of votes or to conduct opinion polls under whatever form, from whatever place after the publication of the provisional electoral roll”.
The electoral roll was published nationwide on October 2, 2009.
This was not the first time that Le Temps had been fined for a similar offence this year. On April 2, the newspaper was slapped with a fine of one million CFA francs (about.US$2, 000).
Although a date had not been fixed for the country’s presidential election, a research group, Tns-Sofres, had in a series of polls predicted a win for President Laurent Gbagbo.
MFWA was deeply concerned about this repressive law that does not only censor the Ivorian media but also stifles academic freedom. The law denies the public access to scientific research.
We called on the Ivorian authorities to, as a matter of urgency, repeal this law as it hinders free expression in the country.