So, very soon it’s time for the tv debate between Gbagbo and Ouattara (called Ado) on Ivorian national television RTI.
A good site to watch it is Afrobox.net where the initial commercial of rti.ci is avoided as well as any paywalls.
The last month there has actually been tons of tv-debates with representatives of the Ivorian political parties on RTI and Africa24. Not only are they often very entertaining, but it’s good that they take place as they are pretty good examples of democratic dialogue and freedom of speech. In more authoritarian countries these type of debates don’t take place – you don’t see Gadaffi or Kim Jong Il debating with the opposition leader on national tv.
I think once you have had these types of debates and a relatively free round of election it will be difficult go move towards a one party system with limited freedom of speech and an oppressed opposition. There may be setbacks, but once the idea of democracy and basic human freedoms has taken root among people it has a tendency to stick.
Even pretty tough dictators have to pretend that they are in favour of democracy nowadays and create some sort of semblance of democratic institutions and processes. Then they often define their “branch” of democracy as something more akin to its opposite, but with time and courageous opposition politicians the sham democratic processes can become more and more like real democratic processes.
In the Ivory Coast in the 90s, it kind of looked like this process was taking place, but then the coup, the war and the whole Ivoirite business garbled it up a bit.
Speaking of the war by the way, the best tweet yesterday was from “Toussine” who kept track of how many times the war was mentioned by the participants in the tv-debate. The results were:
Konate Navigue: 33
Charles Ble Goude: 28
Kouadio Konan Bertin (KKB): 13
Patrick Zasso: 13
That makes 93 mentions in a 90 minutes debate which I’ll take as a benchmark. If the mentions per minute go down it is probably a good sign.