Côte d'Ivoire

Ivorian police beat, tear gas opposition youths

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ABIDJAN, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast police used batons and tear gas on Wednesday to disperse youths demonstrating against the powerful state media, with the protesters responding by pelting them with stones, a Reuters reporter saw.

Protesters said 14 people were wounded when dozens of police clashed with some 200 youths marching to the offices of state-run television station RTI in the main city of the world's top cocoa grower.

They were protesting what they see as the ruling party's stranglehold on the media.

Opposition presidential candidates Henri Konan Bedie and Alassane Ouattara have complained of being marginalised in the national press, saying media close to President Laurent Gbagbo dominate and enjoy state resources.

"The police showed up before we started and began beating us and firing tear gas," said Bertin Kouadio Konan, president of the youth wing of Bedie's party, after fleeing a cloud of gas. "The police hit me and tore my shirt."

Political tensions are rising as Ivory Coast approaches the campaign period for an election meant to draw a line under years of stalemate following a 2002-3 war that left the north in the hands of rebels.

The vote has been repeatedly postponed since 2005 and is currently scheduled for the end of February or early March. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; writing by Tim Cocks; editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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