Ivory Coast is currently split in two, with a rebel-held north and a government-held south
Ivory Coast is currently split in two, with a rebel-held north and a government-held south

In Ivory Coast, a leading opposition coalition member says the national television (RTI) is refusing to give them equal coverage ahead of the scheduled general election.

Michel Kofi said the opposition will continue to fight for its right despite a police crackdown.

“This morning, the youth league…decided to start fighting for (their) right of speaking on the national television. So this was the purpose of the meeting we attended today,” Kofi said.

Opposition parties often accuse President Laurent Gbagbo’s ruling party of having a stronghold on the national television and other state media institutions.

Alassane Ouattara and Henri Konan Bedie, both opposition candidates, complained of being marginalized by the state broadcaster.

Michel Kofi says democracy requires a level playing field in the national media.

“Talking about democracy means that we should have equal rights on using media – television, radio and press to speak to our people about our ideology and everything that we are thinking about our country. Unfortunately for our country… only the party in power and his (Gbagbo’s) people has the right to speak on the television, and they are using the television for propaganda,” Kofi said.

Ivory Coast is scheduled to hold its first election this year since the country was divided into two parts following the civil war.

Kofi said despite repeated petitions, the state broadcaster has so far failed to give equal coverage to the opposition parties.

“I can tell you that seven months ago, our party decided not to get the national television to cover our activities, and then they decided to change. But now…we are not getting even four percent of the time that we should have on the television,” Kofi said.

He also said the protesters were demonstrating their displeasure about the lack of equal coverage before they were attacked by the police.

“We just wanted to write to them to give them the letter, to say we are tired of this attitude. We want you to consider us as a political party,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Gbagbo has called on the chairman of the country’s electoral commission to resign after accusing the electoral body of failing to address disputed names in the voter register.