By Hakeem Babalola
|The 3 men who will decide I/Coast destiny|
The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire may be heading for another civil war as a result of election stalemate which has bitterly produced two presidents.
The country is now being ruled by two men whose rivalry may soon plunge the West African country into deep recession – of war. The two men: Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara seem bent on making life difficult for each other without thinking of the consequences of their shallow ambition on the country and its people.
Mr. Gbagbo has ruled for ten years and despite pressure from around the region and the rest of the world, he has refused to recognise the people’s choice thereby clinging on to power. Mr. Ouattara who was declared winner of November 28th run-off election is not in the mood to surrender his mandate thereby running a parallel regime along with Guilliane Soro as his new Prime Minister.
Whilst the two men wallow in the luxury of ruler-ship, the Ivoirians utter a followership cry of despair which no one seems to be hearing. And it is this particular scenario that often leads to drum – of war. We should not forget that this former French colony has in the past experienced two coups d’état (1999 and 2001) and a civil war.
I don’t want to pretend that I know much about the history of this country which was an economic powerhouse during the 60’s and 70’s after which the economic crises in the 80’s led to the period of political and social turmoil. However, I think common sense (or is it un-common sense) should be applied to this current debacle.
The beauty of elections and in fact its objective is to respect people’s votes and eventually make it count. Anything contrary will always bring chaos and cause unnecessary sufferings. I passionately believe that peace will always elude any country in which people’s votes are being subverted. And of course this is a common practice in most African states. When will this change?
The change may not come soon and this is disheartening as is frightening. It is difficult to deconstruct the nature of sit-tight syndrome engulfing African rulers. The happenings right now in Ivory Coast is a useful remind in this regard. You lost the election but got the Constitutional Council to overrule the Electoral Commission! This is a brazen disregard for the country and its people.
Laurent Gbagbo has been ruling Ivory Coast for quite a time. Unless it is kingdom-ship, ten years is a long time for one man to continuously govern a country. Whatever it is that Mr. Gbagbo cannot accomplish in ten years regarding his nation should be left in the hands of another Ivoirians who have shown interest. That should be the common sense in a Semi-presidential Republic like Ivory Coast.
It is not that Alassane Ouattara will be different but at least he should be allowed to enjoy the people’s confidence in him. If he won the run-off election as being claimed by region and international observers, then the incumbent has no choice other than to go – if at all he has any respect for the country and its people.
Since Ivory Coast is not a kingdom, then Gbagbo must be digging his own grave by suppressing people’s voice irrespective of his desire to negotiate. No, you don’t negotiate about an election you lost. Gbagbo has had his own chance therefore he should quit after defeat. The funny thing as far as I am concerned is the fact that Ouattara might have also exhibited such sit-tight behaviour had he in Gbagbo’s shoes. Of course this is a hypothetical example.
Even if Gbagbo had won, he should still handover power to trusted colleagues and ruled by proxy (Hum, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, ex-Nigerian president is good at that). Ten years I repeat is too long. One thing Gbagbo has refused to understand is that by clawing on to power, people may see him as a dictator – the name America loves so much to warrant attack on its perceive enemy.
Whoever between these gentlemen that refused to honour people’s vote is guilty and should not be allowed to go scot-free. The man who refused to respect the voice of the people is the one portraying Africa as a dark continent. Such a man allows the West to poke nose unnecessarily into African’s affairs. And such a man should critically examine himself and ask this subtle question: Isn’t the intervention of the West in African conflicts another scramble for Africa?
Such a man should further query himself. Why should I let my inordinate ambition invite the West to crackle fire instead of solution? Why should my lack of vision pave way for the West to pour or pump fuel instead of quenching the flames raging through my country? Is my action not paving way for backdoor colonialism? But does he care? Absolutely not!
While ECOWAS, AU, UN, US, EU, France and others back Ouattara because they believe he won the run-off election, Russia on the other hand backs Gbagbo thereby boosting his confidence clawing on to power. In fact Obama is said to have threatened sanctions should Gbagbo clinch on to power. I find it an insult whenever the so-called developed nations take charge of African affairs. How many times have African organisations been called to monitor elections in these countries; or called for sanctions against them?
In a communiqué released after the meeting, ECOWAS said: "In order to protect the legitimacy of the electoral process, the Summit endorsed the results declared by the Independent Electoral Commission and certified by the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations in the Cote d'Ivoire in accordance with Resolution 1765 of the United Nations Security Council, dated 16 July 2007." And to further send strong signals to Mr Gbagbo and his illegitimate government, the international body added: "In this regard, the Heads of State and Government recognised Mr. Alassane Dramane Ouattara as president-elect of Cote d'Ivoire, and consequently, representative of the freely expressed voice of the Ivorian people."
I don’t think ECOWAS or even AU (African Union) can proffer solution despite its attempt to suspend Ivory Coast. This is in part because most of its member states are governed by politicians who are guilty of sit-tight syndrome as Gbagbo. As of March 2010, seven of the ten longest-serving presidents in the world were heads of state of African nations such as Angola, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, and Zimbabwe; while the presidents of Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Uganda have all held on firmly to the levers of state power in their countries for well over twenty years.
Meanwhile the International peacekeepers effort to guard the hotel in which Ouattara is reported to be holed up is nothing but a joke? So the country has two presidents and two armies! The UN and similar organisations should probably leave Ivory Coast to Ivoirians to decide their own fate. After all, the situation is the same in spite of several interventions by these international organisations including the United Nations. Angola for example could not come together with the intervention of these international organisations. Solution came when Angolans themselves decided to trust each other.
The so-called western nations are already pouring petrol or fuel as Ivory Coast burns. The UN has recognised Ouattara’s ambassador to the UN. France and Germany have asked their citizens to leave Ivory Coast temporarily. The West has threatened the use of force if Gbagbo failed to leave power. And Gbagbo has refused to yield to threat. Even Ivory Coast bank account has been frozen until, according to the World Bank, Gbagbo quits office. The regional organisations like AU and ECOWAS have also supported the West in drumming war in Ivory Coast. As this manifest, thousands of Ivoirians are leaving their country in fear.
I would have loved the two gentlemen to understand the fact that the West can never have the interest of Ivoirians at heart no matter the degree of pretence being exhibited. Of course it is an open secret that the West always supports whoever or whatever advances its own agenda – this is dangerous but it is a known fact. Oh, Wikileaks!