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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs