Ivory Coast state television has disappeared from the airwaves outside the nation’s largest city, in a blow to the incumbent president’s attempts to cling to power in the bloody aftermath of an election most of the world says he lost.
Meanwhile, the United Nations recognised Laurent Gbagdo’s challenger, Alassane Ouattara, as the winner of the November 28 run-off vote.
The 192-nation UN General Assembly rescinded the credentials of Ivory Coast’s UN ambassador Ilahiri Djedje, a Gbagbo supporter, and accepted those of Mr Ouattara’s choice, veteran diplomat Youssouf Bamba.
The UN deputy human rights commissioner in Geneva, Kyung-wha Kang, said at least 173 people had died in violence since the election.
She detailed hundreds of arrests and detentions, dozens of cases of torture and mistreatment, and said government forces were preventing investigators from looking into other reports of human-rights abuses, including possible mass graves.
The state television channel controlled by Gbagbo continued to be shown in Abidjan, but only black and white snow appeared in at least six other cities around the West African nation just minutes before Ivorians sat down to their nightly newscast, residents said.
It was not immediately clear how the signal was cut off. Advisers to Mr Ouattara refused to comment, but the event falls in line with a series of strategies he has been employing to try to break Gbagbo’s stranglehold on the news.
A week ago, Mr Ouattara’s supporters unsuccessfully attempted to seize control of the channel. Mr Ouattara has been broadcasting a private radio station that intersperses rally songs with news broadcasts from the Golf Hotel, where he has been since the election. There was no immediate comment from representatives for Gbagbo.
The UN, US, France and others have said Mr Ouattara won the run-off vote, but Gbagbo has refused to step down. State TV ran continuous footage of Gbagbo taking the oath of office in the days after he declared victory without mentioning that his claim was heavily contested.
The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Thursday night calling for an end to the violence which has raised fears of a return to civil war.