NPR logo Ivory Coast Leader Threatens Journalists

International

Ivory Coast Leader Threatens Journalists

Ivorian women protest on an Abidjan street with a poster reading "Gbagbo you were born from a woman. You are heartless. Go out." on March 8, 2011. SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

Ivorian women protest on an Abidjan street with a poster reading "Gbagbo you were born from a woman. You are heartless. Go out." on March 8, 2011.

SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton says intransigent leader Laurent Gbagbo is blaming the media for making up stories about the murder of civilians at the hands of his fighters. Ofeibea says a Gbagbo spokesman warned international media writing about his country that reporters should change their coverage. Otherwise, they will be considered accomplices to terrorists.

The UN says Gbagbo's forces are using heavy weapons against civilians in Abidjan, the commercial capital. Gbagbo's spokesman denies the charge and now says reporters are only repeating lies by the UN peacekeeping mission.

This week, Ivory Coast's internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, asked the UN to use its 11,000 peacekeepers for 'legitimate force' to protect civilians. Thousands of people are running away from Abidjan as more civilians are killed and the UN boosts food aid to the country. Many people are afraid because Gbagbo's youth minister, Charles Ble Goude, is calling for new recruits to take on fighters loyal to Ouattara. Gbagbo himself has not spoken publicly for weeks.

NPR thanks our sponsors