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Police attack newspaper journalist, thwart opposition demonstration

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 24 March 2011, a group of police officers in the capital, Cotonou, violently assaulted Séïdou Choubadé, a reporter and columnist for the privately-owned "Le Nokoué" daily newspaper, during an aggressive crackdown on opposition demonstrators. The demonstrators were challenging the credibility of the constitutional court's 21 March announcement declaring President Yayi Boni winner of the recent presidential election.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the officers injured a number of demonstrators and arrested and imprisoned several others, including Raphaël Akotègnon, one of the leaders of the demonstration and a member of parliament for the opposition L'Union fait la Nation (In Unity Lies the Nation's Strength) party.

The correspondent said that while some of the police officers slapped Choubadé several times, others beat him with clubs. The attack went on unabated despite the journalist showing them his press card. Choubadé, who had gone to the scene with his motorcycle, fled, leaving behind the bike.

The attack on Choubadé resulted in a swollen face, a cut on his upper lip and a number of hand injuries.

Meanwhile, there has been widespread condemnation of the crackdown on the demonstrators by the police. In a 28 March statement, the country's broadcast regulator, the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC), threatened to institute an action against the police for the attack on Choubadé.

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