Special Correspondent in Yamoussouko, Cote d’Ivoire
Cote d’Ivoire Bureau
YAMOUSSOUKRO, (CAJ News) –THE man behind the opening of a new media outlet operating from South Africa has been unmasked as one of the most controversial figures in Ivory Coast and former colonial master, France.
Alain Toussaint, the publisher, is synonymous with notoriety, with allegations ranging from publication of fake news, forgery of documents, fraud and links to murder are among dishonours to taint his image.
His Open Africa (corporate.openafrica.com), first opened as African Daily Voice (ADV), has been beset by allegations of creating fake news.
It was registered in Johannesburg but not listed as the official South African media.
The website was aimed at French-speaking communities. Open Africa specialises in media tech news.
However, the controversies of its executive go beyond the media industry.
Toussaint has been suspected of having a connection to the murder of the Ivory Coast junta leader, Robert Guiei, in 2002.
The military ruler who assumed power after a coup in 1999, was killed alongside his wife and minister. Some four senior army officers serving under then-president, Laurent Gbagbo. Toussaint was Gbagbo’s advisor.
However, during an interview back in 2015, the advocate of the Guei family, Singo Tia, mentioned Toussaint.
“Very early in the morning, we heard Alain Toussaint make statements from the Vatican when the Kalashnikovs crackled in Abidjan. The Ivorians holed up in their homes, we were told on the radio that ‘what was happening in Côte d’Ivoire we know who is behind: it is Gal Robert Guei,” Tia is quoted as saying.
Toussaint’s reputation is also tattered in France where he is suspected of faking a letter purportedly by the-president, Nicolas Sarkozy to Ivorian diplomat, Youssouf Bakayoko.
Errors in the letter raised doubts about his academic qualifications and professional credential.
His branding himself as a patriot was dismissed as ungenuine for his holding European nationality and having bank accounts overseas.
This, while he advocated for nationalism towards France and international community.
After Gbagbo was defeated in the 2011 elections but refused to cede power, Toussaint alleged a conspiracy by France and United States against Ivory Coast.
“You have benefited and you continue to take advantage of the social, educational, medical European system, while you mount your compatriots against this Europe that has made you what you are today,” expert Kakou Valencia, wrote to Toussaint.
The aide has also been suspected of having connections with Russians after posting a photo with Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation.
He however argued he was interviewing the politician.
It is against the backdrop of these controversies the opening of his publication has raised concern.
Toussaint on Wednesday returned home after eight years in exile.
“I come back all happy and animated by a sincere desire for reconciliation and peace. Without peace, no possible is possible (sic),” he stated.
– CAJ News