Posts Tagged ‘Laurent Gbagbo’
This is an amazing, perhaps unprecedented claim in modern times:
“I do know that the French have always had pretty much control of the government in the Ivory Coast and that’s just the way the French operate, until President Gbagbo got there and, of course, the French have been running against him ever since that time. And, the current opponent, Ouattara, is no exception; he is the chosen one by the French and, quite frankly, they rigged the election,” said Inhofe.
“I have shown on the Senate floor how they took the margin of victory that went to Ouattara…what precincts they stole that vote at and how they miscalculated it. How is it statistically possible for the primary election for Gbagbo to have received thousands and thousands of votes in that northern part of Cote d’Ivoire and then, in the run-off, he got zero? Statistically, that is impossible,” he added.
This is an outrageous claim for a sitting American senator to make.
For one, that’s not even the excuse given by the Ivorian Constitutional Court:
The Constitutional Council has rejected an announcement naming presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara as the winner of Côte d’Ivoire’s elections. Earlier, the electoral commission had declared Ouattara the winner of the election with 54 per cent of the vote.
“The Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) missed its deadline for giving provisional results” by midnight Wednesday, said the head of the Constitutional Council, Paul Yao N’Dre, a close ally of President Laurent Gbagbo.
“From that moment, the CEI is not in a position to announce anything,” he said on state television, rejecting the commission’s announcement that Ouattara had won Sunday’s run-off vote.
Two, as noted directly above, the Constitutional Court was widely believed to be corrupt here.
Three, the Constitutional Court had to wipe out 500,000 votes, all of which were in the north, and which represented one tenth of all votes cast. That’s unlikely to have been legitimate.
Four, the UN is responsible for certifying election results under previous agreements:
The UN, which is responsible for certifying the election results as part of the peace deal that ended the last bout of fighting in the country, has said that it considers the initial election valid.
The top UN representative in the country said he had “absolute confidence that there is only one winner – Mr Alassane Ouattara”.
Speaking during the incumbent’s ceremony, Hamadoun Toure, the UN’s special envoy, told Al Jazeera that the 9,000 UN peacekeepers who are stationed in the country would be keeping to their existing mandate of “providing peace and security in the country” if violence over the standoff breaks out. Protecting civilians, he reaffirmed, is central to that mandate.
What agreements were they? Agreements such as the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement or the Ouagadougou Political Agreement, which made official the UN role, and subsequent Security Council resolutions (especially 1933), which made the UN responsible for certifying election results. So the Constitutional Court did not have the authority to wantonly throw out 600,000 votes on its own without scheduling a re-election.
Five and most importantly. even if there was fraud, the Constitution requires a revote within 45 days; the Constitutional Court simply ignored that facet. Why was that vote not held or scheduled? Because the Constitutional Court held that conditions were not safe for it. Why were conditions not safe? Because the Constitutional Court had wrongly overruled the decision! In short, a big win for tautologies and tyrants.
Which is why the UN and the international community rightly rejected it. But none of these details matter to James Inhofe, who sees Gbagbo only as his burdened Christian ally.
Am I appropriating a classic comic story for a gimmick piece? You bet.
But there’s something about these 5 people supporting a thug who’s personally crippling a country. Laurent Gbagbo’s time has come and gone. By holding on to power despite universal criticism in the international community, he’s only set the stage for massacres both by forces allied to him and by those against him. Sure, they should each be punished, but Gbagbo had to know people would die for his stubbornness, even if he couldn’t predict how many would be civilians killed by the other side or by unallied militia forces. He did have to know what the result would be of handing out weapons to street gangs, essentially, and letting them loose in Abidjan. This is not a surprise.
The international community and the U.S. government have been united against Gbagbo, who has been fighting tooth and nail to retain power, and is accused ofcommitting numerous war crimes. Gbagbo has even attacked U.N. personnel and facilities, prompting the international body to launch a rare offensive against his beleaguered forces last night. Now, Gbagbo is reportedly negotiating a surrender and the conflict, which analysts just days ago feared could spin out of control, could now come to an end within “hours.”
And yet some people still defend him, outrageously, much like a team of evil supervillains working together against superheroes (shoehorning the analogy in briefly). They deserve to be named and shamed. Here they are:
Chief among Gbagbo’s American supporters is Inhofe, who is the most influential Republican in the Senate when it comes to African affairs. Inhofe has been traveling to Africa regularly since the late 1990s and, while the trips are paid for by the taxpayer and typically involve some official business, the senator also engages in missionary work. He has been to Ivory Coast nine times and knows Gbagbo personally. That’s why, early on in the post-election crisis, when the State Department was frantically looking for intermediaries to reach out to Gbagbo to try to convince him to leave the country peacefully, the Obama administration asked Inhofe to talk to Gbagbo. But, according to a source familiar with the situation, Inhofe declined to do so.
It’s still not entirely clear why Inhofe wouldn’t help at a moment when it might have made a real difference; I’ve asked his spokesman for comment. But a letter to Hillary Clinton released by his office today offers some clues. In it, Inhofe explicitly takes Gbagbo’s side in the election dispute — even though all international observers and election monitors say that Gbagbo lost.
Inhofe writes: “From all the evidence I now have gathered, I am convinced that it is mathematically impossible for President Gbagbo to have lost the election by several hundred thousand votes.” The senator goes on to call for new elections.
The other wrinkle in all this is that Inhofe and Gbagbo share a connection to the Fellowship. Inhofe has said that he began taking his missionary trips to Africa at the request of Doug Coe, the so-called stealthy Billy Graham who leads the Fellowship. Ivory Coast has long been one of a handful of African countries that is “of special interest” to the Fellowship, according to Jeff Sharlet’s book about the group.
Next up, and closely related: Pat Robertson. Salon again:
Despite the fact that Gbagbo looks as if he will be removed from office by forces loyal to his opponent as early as today, Christian right figures in the U.S. are still standing by the isolated strongman.
On “The 700 Club” today, Pat Robertson declared that Gbagbo is “a very fine man” and insisted that the election was “crooked,” even though the U.S., the U.N. and the African Union all said that Gbagbo’s opponent, Alassane Ouattara, was the winner.
Part of the dynamic that is clearly on Robertson’s mind is that Gbagbo and his wife are evangelical Christians — who have both attended the Fellowship’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington — while Ouattara is Muslim.
Robertson was blunt today:
“This is a crooked election. But nevertheless the UN has said the other guy [Ouattara] won. Well, that may be. But the problem is that this is a country now that has been run by a Christian that’s going to be into the hands of Muslims. So it’s one more Muslim nation that’s going to be built into that ring of Sharia law around the Middle East. It’s one more country, one more danger spot, but we don’t seem to see that right now, do we?”
Next up, the Sultan of Silliness himself, Glenn Beck, who at least decided not to defend Gbagbo as much as smear Ouattara. via MMFA,in his own words:
BECK: What does democracy look like? Well, with Ouattara it’s sweet. We know our president says President Ouattara is the man. He’s a Muslim, but not officially the president yet because the current Christian president who has his own share of issues is refusing to allow a power change. Mostly because he fears that this guy [Ouattara] is going to round up all of this guy’s [Gbagbo] supporters and kill them all. Crazy talk we just heard from the president. Ouattara is the man.
Well, not quite. Even forces loyal to the Muslim president, like these guys, have slaughtered people, grabbed them out of their cars and set them on fire and now they’re beheading them too. And our president is supporting them which is great. So by the way, the death toll, about a thousand in three days over the weekend. So we got this guy [Obama] standing with this guy [Ouattara] who’s responsible for the scenes where people are [Beck makes a chopping motion].
Next, the guy who once said “Olympic games show clearly inequalities between the black and white races concerning, for example, athletes, and runners in particular. It’s a fact.” The one and only Jean-Marie Le Pen. From here:(and yea, the original is French. Sue me). Or see here.
The honorary president of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen said that “victory of Ouattara will tip the entire of Cote D’Ivoire under Muslim influence” on Friday in his “Diary”aired on the website of far-right party. “The victory of Ouattara, it will be the tipping of the entire Cote d’Ivoire under Muslim influence, while far this influence was limited to the tribes of northern Côte d’Ivoire,” said Jean-Marie Le Pen. “The troops Ouattara, I still remember that these are Muslim troops, ” he has said.
On the fourth day of a lightning offensive, the forces of Alassane Ouattara, Presidentrecognized by the international community after the November election, was poised Friday to control the entire country. The fate of the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo remained unknown. Criticizing also led intervention in Libya under UN mandate, Jean-Marie Le Pen has assured that “Mr. Sarkozy, General Pinocchio, is only the loincloth this operation globalist oil to taste” . “I consider (this) is akin to an act of international piracy because I think one day be proven premeditation in this case, which explains why it has exchanged immediately quasi-ambassadors with rebels’ he said. Brought to qualify the Libyan rebels, the honorary president of the National Front said they are “often people of modest extraction and untrained” and that “it seems that Ivory Coast it is a little same thing. “
Next, a change of course, the International Committee of the Fourth International. Or, to be short: Communists. In their own words:
After the second round of the November elections, the Western powers claimed that Ouattara had won the vote with 54 percent versus 46 percent for Gbagbo, but Gbagbo contested the results. He retained command of the bulk of the official armed forces. French and UN forces sided with Ouattara inside the country—guaranteeing his safety in the Golf Hotel in downtown Abidjan.
Ouattara’s power grab centres on a battle for influence inside the Ivory Coast’s officer corps, to convince them to desert the Gbagbo camp, together with the backing of the major imperialist powers that are citing the Libyan war as a pretext for intervention in Ivory Coast. As in Libya, the pretence of a fight to defend democracy is a thin disguise for an attempt to manipulate a bloody civil war to the advantage of the major imperialist powers.
[. . .]
Despite the Western media campaign, Ouattara does not represent a “democratic” alternative to Laurent Gbagbo. A former high-ranking official at the International Monetary Fund, he will implement pro-market policies and depend critically on the threat of Western military intervention to retain power, amid the longstanding north-south tensions in Ivory Coast.
The war will deepen the major imperialist powers’ leverage to economically loot the Ivory Coast. A country of 21 million people and a major exporter of cocoa, gold and natural gas, it is widely regarded as the single richest country among France’s former African colonies. French troops have been deployed there since independence in 1960, by virtue of military accords signed between France and Ivory Coast in 1961.
And last, an old fashioned anti-colonialist perspective from Robert Mugabe‘s government of Zimbabwe. Government media:
In other words, there is a direct link between the hard-nosed material pursuits and interests of the empire on one hand and the fight by the same empire to “open up” media space in Africa, to those media houses, publishers and journalists who will faithfully project and preserve the prestige and credibility of the white racist imperialist, especially in times of crisis.
Therefore the search for African leaders who are thoroughly impressed with illusions of white power and with faint associations with such prestige and “credibility” always accompanies the scramble for material interests.
To take the back-side of that linkage and reality: the need to attack, demonise and isolate African leaders who are not impressed with illusions of the white man’s “prestige” and “credibility” is part and parcel of the deadly scramble for strategic material gains and interests.
That is why Africa and its traditional allies are shocked by the failure of the leaders of Nigeria and South Africa to see Libya and Côte d’Ivoire beyond the Western media caricatures of Colonel Gaddafi and President Laurent Gbagbo. Africa and its usual allies are shocked by the failure of the leaders of Nigeria and South Africa to resist the white racists’ demand to use Africa for the purpose of restoring illusions of the white man’s power, prestige and moral superiority, which the white man lost (if he ever had them), in the days of slavery.
James Inhofe thought he was alone in backing Laurent Gbagbo over internationally recognized free election winner (and Muslim) Alassane Ouattara in Cote D’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast). Well, Jean Marie Le Pen agrees with him. Translated from the original French:
The honorary president of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen said that “victory will Ouattara tipping the entire Côte d’Ivoire under Muslim influence” on Friday in his “Diary” aired on the website of far-right party. “The victory of Ouattara, it will be the tipping of the entire Cote d’Ivoire under Muslim influence, while far this influence was limited to the tribes of northern Côte d’Ivoire,” said Jean-Marie Le Pen. “troops Ouattara, I still remember that troops are Muslims,” he added.
The Anti-Defamation League said of Le Pen that his political party is “ultranationalist, xenophobic, [and] anti-Semitic.”
James Inhofe has famously declared that there should be a new election. The only other supporters of Gbagbo are his partisans (which is far more understandable). For Inhofe to align himself with Le Pen is disgusting.
If you want to read more, check my liveblog of the situation in Cote D’Ivoire.
I’ve rewritten this post about 5 times, using completely different themes. The Ivory Coast is complicated.
If one looks at the last 20-25 years of history in the Ivory Coast, one sees slowly decaying economic conditions (once the former powerhouse of west Africa, they have been eclipsed by Ghana) and unstable politics to the point where there has been military action in domestic affairs at least four times in major ways. There are reports that both sides of the emerging civil war have committed atrocities, though more by the side with power currently. 410 people have currently died.
Indeed, different forces even have controlled different parts of the country for a better part of a decade. Orton Kiishweko asked an important question earlier this week at the end of his column on the degenerating crisis:
And as the meeting ended on Thursday night, it was clear that the solution they wanted for the country is to allow Ouattara and Gbagbo to contest in the real court of effective state formation – the military.
Short of that, the question of how elections have sometimes failed to produce leaders peacefully will start shaping analysts’ thoughts that not every political problem in a country can only be solved through competitive elections.
The BBC has made similar points. There are a number of important points here. First, that elections themselves are only as meaningful as they reflect the people and can actually be implemented. In the Ivory Coast, it’s clear the arbiter of power is the military.
Moreover, this is an important lesson for Egypt: When the military becomes politicized it is very, very difficult to end that process. Elections alone do not suffice, sufficient willpower is needed.
This brings up Spencer Ackerman’s classic article on the Obama Doctrine of dignity promotion: I’ve cited it before but the central conceit of the article is the most persuasive and enduring critique of the Bush Administration: elections should not the first priority in building a country, but rather providing basic services, or dignity to the people. Elections follow that. One might respond here that the Ivory Coast is a relatively rich country in the region – and it is!. I would argue both sides feel those basic dignities are at stake here.
That’s one key difference between the Ivory Coast and America – I feel Republicans are actively bad (and I’m sure they feel the same) but only a small minority feels they actively threaten to destroy the infrastructure and way of life we have to the point where force against one side or the other would be justified. Indeed, the constant attention to which side incites more violence is proof that most people do not feel violence is justified. Let me be clear: that does not mean both sides in America are innocent or equal ( the Republicans are far worse and the rise of right wing terrorism under Democratic Presidents is a serious concern in a way it isn’t under Republican administrations). But it’s safe to say most mainstream Republicans don’t support an armed insurrection later this afternoon.
But when parties have essentially a long border and have self organized and armed themselves, there’s less incentives to stay away from fighting. That does not mean things will escalate of of control either.
One last, but very important point is that it’s becoming clear that party and ethnic relationships may have decreasing meaning than country identification in the Ivory Coast right now in terms of politics:
But there would not be an election unless President Gbagbo was confident that he will win it — and he was not confident of the outcome. This had been the assessment of some analysts since 2005 and the political landscape in Cote d’Ivoire helps to explain why. Gbagbo’s political party, the FPI (Front Populaire Ivoirien), consistently came in at third place, and was still associated with a minority ethnic group (the Bete). To win a presidential election, the FPI needed an alliance with one of the larger parties – either the PDCI (Parti Democratique de Cote d’Ivoire) or the RDR (Rassemblement des Republicains), but the latter have remained remarkably united in an alliance against the FPI, known as the RHDP (Rassemblement des Houphouetistes).
Gbagbo haf tried since at least 2007 to cut a deal with Alassane Ouattara, president of the RDR, but had not succeeded. Having failed to co-opt Ouattara, Gbagbo focused on promoting a rift within the PDCI by helping to finance and support former-Prime Minister Charles Banny’s efforts to replace aging former-President Henri Konan Bedie as the PDCI’s candidate for president. Whether or not Banny succeeded is irrelevant from the FPI’s perspective, as long as the internal struggle induced a certain percentage of PDCI voters to go elsewhere. Gbagbo wanted to face Alassane Ouattara in the second round (no one expected a winner to emerge from the first round) because he (Gbagbo) believes that the ethnic groups who traditionally support the PDCI will vote FPI, rather that support an RDR leader who has links to the rebellion.
As it turned out, Laurent Gbagbo lost and Alassane Outtara won in the runoff, but in the worst possible way: he had enough power to retain control, but not enough power to actually win the election. It’s instances like this that can sorely impede the political development of the country, and the United States was lucky to avoid that sort of situation aside from a close call with Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr that most people do not remember.
There’s also very little chance anyone will be sent to help. In the past, regional stability force Ecomog has only been sent in when asked, and probably does not have the means to intervene forcefully in a country this big. It would require France to be involved, which might just escalate things.
What we have in the Ivory Coast, essentially, is a situation where the best case scenario after elections is a return to the status quo ante. Keep this in mind the next time that western political leaders push for elections as a means to resolve a conflict between two sides. It might be best to make sure they’re willing to live with each other first, as long as that might take.
I’ll end my rambing with this revealing quote:
The top U.N. official in Ivory Coast told reporters Friday that getting Ouattara back into the country is no simple matter.
“I have no comment because it regards the security of a head of state,” said U.N. Special Representative Choi Young-jin. “But it is more complicated than you can imagine.”
In the end, I’m starting to think that there’s a good chance the Ivory Coast has gone from the jewel of western Africa to the Lebanon of the western Africa: fractious politics ruins great potential.