ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Ivory Coast has released six journalists arrested for publishing stories that authorities said could incite another soldiers’ revolt, the journalists’ trade union said on Wednesday, following a series of army mutinies this year over pay.
The mutinies, which included soldiers briefly seizing control of the country’s second biggest city, have raised concerns about political stability in Ivory Coast, one of the world’s fastest growing economies and its largest cocoa producer.
The government paid some soldiers an undisclosed sum in January, triggering revolts from other troops seeking similar payouts.
The journalists were arrested on Sunday and underwent hours of questioning after publishing details of the deal reached between the soldiers and the government. Authorities said this could compromise stability in the West African nation.
Moussa Traore, president of Ivory Coast’s National Union of Journalists, said they had been freed late on Tuesday, hailing the decision as “a victory for the freedom of the press”.
However, Yacouba Gbane, editor of the daily Le Temps, one of the six journalists detained, said they had been provisionally charged prior to their release and could still face trial.
“The investigating judge told us that we are still charged with interfering with the security of the state and with the disclosure of false information and that we can be seized at any moment,” said Gbane, one of the six detained.
The judge will decide whether to prosecute the six, though media sources said this was unlikely.
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Gareth Jones)