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  • The Fight to Restore Democracy in Côte D’Ivoire

    Achieving stable and mature democracy in sub-Saharan Africa remains a work in progress, as illustrated by the November 28 elections in Côte D’Ivoire.

    A once comparatively stable west African nation, Côte D’Ivoire has for over a decade existed either in conflict or on the brink of civil war. The latest electoral crisis has once more pushed the country to the brink and spurred growing concern within the international community.

    An ethnically divided country, Côte D’Ivoire is the world’s largest cocoa producer, attracting migrant workers from neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso. This has stirred considerable resentment, particularly from the southern end of the country. Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, skilled in the art of political survival, has consistently played upon tribal and ethnic divisions to keep his grip on power. All evidence points to his defeat in the November 28 election run-off, yet Gbagbo refuses to relinquish power to his opponent, Alassane Ouattara, who was banned from running in previous presidential elections because his family is from Burkina Faso.

    Gbagbo has declared himself the winner even though the United States, France, the U.N., and the African Union have declared Ouattara the real winner. Recent events demonstrate that Gbagbo has no intention of stepping down. He ordered the 9,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force to leave the country, massacred pro-Ouattara supporters, and cut off all food and aid to Ouattara’s offices. The U.N. fears a potential breakout of civil war.

    While Gbagbo is ignoring calls from the U.S. State Department to step aside and make way for a peaceful transition, the imposition of financial sanctions are a realistic possibility. The African Union hasn’t fared much better in its progress. Gbagbo turned down a compromise, and potential power-sharing deals have fallen through. Though no single country or organization has wielded enough influence in dethroning the unwieldy leader, there is power in institutions.

    When President Obama visited Ghana in 2009, he emphasized that a commitment to partnering with institutions such as the African Union can bring about positive change on the continent. He boldly proclaimed, “Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.”

    The current election crisis in Côte D’Ivoire requires outside involvement to defuse a dangerous standoff. It is up to neighboring African leaders like Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan and the African Union to press hard for Gbagbo to step down.

    In order to turn aphorism into action, the Obama Administration should also work effectively with the African Union, U.N., and European Union to ensure that democratic governance is restored to Côte D’Ivoire. Otherwise, the prospects for genuine democracy for hundreds of millions of Africans will be further diminished.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to The Fight to Restore Democracy in Côte D’Ivoire

    1. Patrick, North Carol says:

      This is so very sad. I spent the last 16 years in neighboring Ghana of which most of Ghana's political attention was focused on Togo. Now it seems they will have to worry about conflict on both sides. Why, oh why, cannot African leaders behave like leaders and not like dictators? I hope it is not the looming promise of oil in the region that is motivating Gbagbo to this stubborn and wrong-headed position.

    2. Elizabeth, Raleigh N says:

      I'm sorry, but you have completely been misinformed. President Gbagbo is a man of high integrity and has led the nation of Ivory Coast into peace and prior to the recent elections, was the only African nation considered "at peace". The UN's involvement has only stirred violence in this nation and is exacerbating the situation. President Gbagbo's legitimacy as President has been given by the only Council that can legitimize the election results. No matter how many world powers suggest otherwise, it is not supreme over the nation's own Council. It would be like the UN and China, for example, telling our own nation that our Constitution is not valid — but they have no authority to do that. Would you stand for that? That is what's happening in this situation, and that is only the beginning of the story. I ask you to please thoroughly investigate the perspective of President Gbagbo, especially since you represent the Heritage Foundation and stand for truth.

      Here are several articles you can start with:

      A video from AfricanVision TV; talks about voter fraud and UN involvement

      Cote d'Ivoire: Can we trust the United Nations? (Posted online 02 Jan. 2011)

      This actually aired on CNN

      Ivory Coast: Who Won the Elections? (Posted online 03 Jan. 2011)

      This article is from WorldNetDaily

      “Outsiders trying to install Muslim in power – Obama's African buddy working to arrange departure of Ivory Coast president” (Posted online 04 Jan 2011)

      The following articles and interviews have been conducted by CBN News:

      03 Jan. 2011

      Leaders Pressure Ivory Coast President to Step Down

      04 Jan. 2011,

      The Global Lane by Gary Lane "Why Gbagbo refuses to go"

      06 Jan. 2011,

      Ivory Coast Leader: Truth in Polling Report

      07 Jan 2011,

      The Global Lane by Gary Lane " Gbagbo: Needs United Nation to Go"

      13 Jan. 2011,

      Ivory Coast Standoff: Why Gbagbo Won't Go

    3. Peter, Farmington Hi says:

      Misinformation is shaping the international community’s response to the post-election crisis in Côte d'Ivoire with devastating consequences. Honest journalists are urgently needed to destruct the prevalent view being perpetuated by many media sources that incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo lost the elections to Alassane Ouattara and is unlawfully clinging to power.

      “Instead of respecting the Ivorian electoral process, objectively and fairly analyzing the situation of the Ivory Coast…the majority of the French medias, supported by a number of political leaders, have started a campaign of suspicion directed toward the Ivorian authorities,“ said Francois Loncle, representative of l’Eure department of France, and Henri Emmanuelli, representative of Landes department of France.

      Firsthand observers tell an opposite story from that found in mainstream media accounts that accuse incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo of corruption in the two-part election held on October 29 and November 28, 2010. Eyewitnesses report of intimidation, physical assaults, and killing of pro-Gbagbo voters and workers as well as ballot stuffing, theft of ballot boxes, and massive fraud – especially in northern cities under the control of rebel forces.

      Kouassi Ferdinand, departmental campaign director for the Presidential Majority Party (LMP in French), observed in the Bouake region that “many polling places were characterized by terror. Delegates and representatives of the LMP were hunted, beaten up, and assaulted.” A spokesperson for the Observatory Mission of the African Civil Society for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (OSCADAE), whose observers visited thousands of polling stations, cited similar irregularities in many towns where “the credibility of the ballot is implicated.”

      On December 3, 2010, the Constitutional Council of Côte d'Ivoire, the highest court in the nation, announced that President Gbagbo won the election as authorized by electoral law. However, most media coverage has downplayed the Ivory Coast’s sovereign rights to manage and declare election results and has reinforced Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the presidential elections as endorsed by the United Nations, the United States and France. Yet, when Choi Youn-jin, UN representative, prematurely announced on the radio that Ouattara was the winner on the basis of provisional results, he placed himself above the Ivorian Constitutional Council in violation of the UN Charter, which clearly stipulates that each country is sovereign.

      Throughout his tenure as president, Gbagbo, an open Christian, has strengthened the state of law, individual freedoms and democracy in Côte d'Ivoire, making it the most economically viable country in French-speaking West Africa. If the post-election crisis continues and Côte d'Ivoire goes into decline, it could plunge the entire West African sub-region into great political, social, ethnic and religious tensions.

      Sources such as the following are helping people to see the other side of the story:

      > http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pag
      > http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2011/January/Ivo

    4. Dave, USA says:

      OK. I am sure that you will agree with me if I tell you that the current situation in my country Ivory Coast is just a consequence of the seeds of division sown in the past by Henri Konan Bedie en perpetuated by Gbagbo, as it helped fulfill his political agenda. The virus is called "ivoirité" (ivorianness) and it sought to distinguish between real Ivorians and false Ivorians. You cannot lead a country, call for peace, while promoting division and sending messages of hatred against a particular group of people. It just won't work. And I am surprised that my dear friend said that Gbagbo has led the country to peace. What peace are you referring to? Division was rather exacerbated and I can say that not because I was informed, lest you say I was "misinformed", but I lived it. I don't know how you read the information you have but, maybe you should see it from the perspective of the people in Ivory coast that want change and instead of that, 600,000 of their votes were canceled. Now is this favorable to peace or division, especially in a volatile context? I am asking you, my dear friends.

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