The war of images in the Ivoirian post-electoral crisis
The role of news and online blogs in constructing political personas
in Images of Africa
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The Ivoirian Crisis (2002-7) has been accompanied by a media war which has been so virulent that observers have at times labelled Ivoirian media as ‘hate media’. During the recent post-electoral crisis, internet discussion sites became a focal point of the political debate, drawing on the relatively dense internet connectivity throughout Abidjan, a large Ivoirian diaspora community and a concerted effort by the pro-Gbagbo camp La Majorité Présidentielle(LMP) to obtain a strong internet presence through online campaigning. In an attempt to stay in power despite electoral defeat, the LMP construed international news media as partial towards the newly elected president Ouattara, and as part of a plot by the international community, led by the former colonial power France, to install him as a puppet. Websites and blogs linked to the LMP proliferated, interpreting the Ivoirian post-electoral crisis as anti-colonialist and portraying Gbagbo as the last guardian of national sovereignty. In these internet discussion sites, international pressure was transformed into a political opportunity: by casting Laurent Gbagbo as the victim of French neo-colonial aggression, these websites attempted to turn him into a symbol of African resistance. In this manner blogs and websites functioned as a site where the image of Laurent Gbagbo as portrayed by international media, and indeed the interpretation of the entire post-electoral crisis, could be challenged by those Ivorian actors aligned with the LMP.

Images of Africa

Creation, negotiation and subversion

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