Election violence in Ivory Coast

With more than fifty countries, Africa gets its fair share of presidential elections every year, let alone legislative and municipal elections. So, sometimes you get the impression the media need to go out of their way to attract attention. Consider these following two articles from yesterday from the two leading news agencies here…

ABIDJAN Dec 8 (Reuters) – Rocket attack kills three at Ivorian election rally

ABIDJAN, Dec 8, 2011 (AFP) – Ivory Coast Prime Minister Guillaume Soro on Thursday called for a halt to violence after five people died in the run-up to weekend elections amid fears of a bloodbath like the one after last year’s presidential poll.

I wonder sometimes if these and other ‘five dead in election build-up’ actually do more harm than good in giving outsiders a false impression of the election. No-one I know here believes that the three people who died in the so-called ‘rocket-attack’ were targeted by whoever fired the weapon – everyone agrees it hit a random family home. Nor is the link to the elections entirely clear – there was a meeting planned ‘near-by’. So, a rocket was fired – but by who and with what purpose? Given this was entirely unprovoked (i.e. it wasn’t part of exchange of fire), either someone let it off randomly to disrupt things, or it went off by accident. I find the latter more probably when you see the way rocket launchers are treated like toys here. Link to elections = unproven.

As for the RDR candidate ‘burned alive’ – it sounds horrific, and recalls some of the roadblock violence during the post-election conflict, but the unfortunate candidate was asleep in his bedroom and all signs are that it was a regular house fire.

There is tension around some constituency battles – more frequently this occurs among members of the ruling coalition rather than with the opposition parties who by and large aren’t taking part. But still, the word ‘blood bath’ doesn’t seem appropriate and seems to slip of the tongue far to easily for Western journalists working in Africa. It’s not helpful and frequently it’s misleading.

This entry was posted in Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Election violence in Ivory Coast

  1. Pauline says:

    One of the newspapers actually said the rocket attack was in fact an accident caused by a clumsy soldier mishandling his RPG. I agree that using words like ‘bloodbath’ in connection with the elections was entirely inappropriate. Often it’s the editors, not the reporters, who think they need to embellish stories with the specter of violence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.