News / Africa

Ivory Coast Debate Lights Up on Twitter

Many participants in the Ivory Coast Twitter discussion are newcomers to the micro-blogging website, Dec 2010
Many participants in the Ivory Coast Twitter discussion are newcomers to the micro-blogging website, Dec 2010

While Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo resists pressure to leave power after a recent election in which the United Nations says he was defeated, the controversy has given rise to a lively debate on the social micro-blogging website Twitter.

So-called threads, or ongoing discussions, on the Twitter website are identified by a hash mark and a certain code, so participants can easily find each other through a basic search. One of those who initiated the "CIV2010" Twitter code before this year's presidential election in divided Ivory Coast was Mohamed Diaby.

Diaby, an Abidjan-based web entrepreneur, said he is surprised at how the discussion has gained participants in the past few weeks, and that some newcomers had never used Twitter before.

The Twitter discussion has gained interest as two Ivorian political leaders, sitting President Gbagbo and his challenger, Alassane Ouattara both claim to have won the November 28th run-off election. The first was certified the winner by the country's constitutional council that threw out votes from the rebel-held north, and the second was certified by the United Nations as part of a peace deal.

A participant who wants to be identified only by his first name, Kanigui, says Twitter has become a very useful tool to stay informed within Ivory Coast. He said foreign media have been cut off in southern Ivory Coast, meaning most residents have had to rely on state media extremely favorable to Mr. Gbagbo's position for their information. The Twitter discussion, he explained, with all its links to other information, as well as its diversity of opinions, gives a broad horizon of sources.

Kanigui said that unlike other social media websites where comments have quickly become violent and divisive, the Twitter discussion has remained in his words, responsible, calm, courteous and professional.

He said initiators like Diaby, who also play the role of virtual moderators, check on rumors that are posted, quickly call these out if they are found to be false, and only retweet - that is disseminate again - information that is found to be accurate.

Participants include not only Ivorians, both in and out of the country, but West Africans in general, as well as French nationals, Americans and concerned citizens around the world. Journalists, such as Kwesi Pratt from Ghana's Insight Newspaper, also have found the discussion useful.

"The twitter feed brings out the real feelings of people," said Pratt. "It is not like the traditional media, which has to go through some norms and so on. Twitter is the real feeling of the people. It is much, much better."

One of those digging the Internet to find new information to post in the discussion is Senam Beheton, a Benin national, who works in the United States and West Africa on technology-based learning and teaching. He went to high school in Ivory Coast.

"I think there will be a before and after "#CIV2010" - meaning Cote d'Ivoire 2010 - and the reason is that it includes not just Ivorians, you have all kinds of nationalities," said Beheton. "In Benin, for example, we have elections coming up in March and it is going to be interesting to see how Twitter is used, but I can guarantee you that it is going to be central as well."

In the meantime, in Ivory Coast, Diaby, one of the initiators of the current Ivory Coast Twitter discussion, said he does not content himself with just sitting behind a computer, but also makes the rounds of Abidjan to see what is happening, so he can better play his self-appointed role of online information moderator.

He said he has received threats against his safety, but his role as online information moderator is worth the risks involved.

The latest tweets centered around the arrival of soldiers loyal to President Gbagbo who were trying to surround the hotel where his rival, Mr. Ouattara, has established his headquarters, protected by former rebels and U.N. peacekeepers.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs