Pushing a Political Agenda: Harassment of French and African Journalists in Côte d’Ivoire’s 2010-2011 National Election Crisis

Jeslyn Lemke


Côte d’Ivoire’s national election in 2010 descended into civil war into 2011 when incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede the presidency to the internationally recognized winner Alassane Ouattara. The three political players in this election—the parties of Ouattara, Gbagbo, and France—had deep economic incentives in the outcome of Côte d’Ivoire’s election. Drawing from interviews conducted in 2016 and 2017 in Côte d’Ivoire with 24 journalists, findings show that journalists endured many acts of harassment from political parties trying to manipulate the news coverage of this election. I argue that the mechanisms observed in Côte d’Ivoire’s electoral crisis reflect how conditions of war activate informal power alliances within the political–economic dynamics of a Global South nation in the postcolonial era. These alliances push on media in ways they would not normally during peacetime. Côte d’Ivoire is a former colony of France. It is a part of “Françafrique,” a region of 12 French-speaking African countries where France still retains considerable economic impact and has intervened militarily dozens of times since the colonies were emancipated in the early 1960s.


political economy, francophone Africa, Africa, journalism, civil war, media studies, Ivory Coast

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