News / Africa

    Despite Growing Pressure, Ivory Coast Incumbent Gbagbo Still Has Outside Allies

    In addition to some remaining outside allies, Mr. Gbagbo also counts on his army's support
    In addition to some remaining outside allies, Mr. Gbagbo also counts on his army's support
    Nico Colombant

    Amid growing international pressure for him to step down, embattled incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo can still count on some outside allies.  They include African leaders and activists who believe they are fighting for independence from outside interference.

    While former South African President Thabo Mbeki was one of the first dignitaries to try to mediate in the month-long post-election crisis in divided Ivory Coast, U.S.-based African affairs analyst Gervais Gnaka says a report Mr. Mbeki came up with was mostly ignored.

    Mr. Mbeki's visit came after the Ivory Coast constitutional council threw out votes from the rebel-held north, charging fraud and giving the victory to Mr. Gbagbo. This overruled an earlier announcement by the national election commission, which had declared former prime minister Alassane Ouattara the winner.

    "(Mr.) Mbeki seems to have suggested the creation of a commission to investigate about all the electoral malpractices about the situation in Ivory Coast and as you can see there are some people who have different voices about the crisis but the international media are not reporting about those," he said.

    Gnaka says this support also includes youth groups in other African countries, who feel Africans remain under the control of outside economic interests. "When you are an African leader, you talk about independence, you talk about economic independence of your country, you talk about sovereignty, you know that you have to have against you what other people call imperialism, corporate power and the international community," he said.

    A sociologist from the University of Washington who is closely following the situation in Ivory Coast, Daniel Chirot, says one leader who has voiced his support for Mr. Gbagbo is Zimbabwe's long-time, post independence President Robert Mugabe. Mr. Mugabe who has faced repeated accusations of staying in power through fraudulent elections has also said he is fighting to reverse previous colonial control.

    "Robert Mugabe sent a long, sort of rambling declaration or message to Gbagbo which was published in Zimbabwean newspapers supporting him, though a lot of that message actually was more about Mugabe's own resistance to power-sharing and referred more to the situation in Zimbabwe than to the situation in Cote d'Ivoire," he said.

    Last week, Angola issued a statement denying Angolan mercenaries and soldiers had been sent to fight alongside the Ivory Coast army which remains loyal to Mr. Gbagbo.

    Angola's government also said it felt the international community was spurring Ivory Coast towards renewed conflict.  

    Chirot, who wrote a paper in 2006 called "The Debacle in Cote d'Ivoire", says Angola's government may view an analogy between Mr. Gbagbo's plight and its own. "I am sure that is has something to do with the nature of the regime there that might feel that it is in some ways similar, that is to say it controls access to the revenues from the natural resources meaning the oil and have not done a terribly good job in distributing those resources to its population, in helping its population, but maintains itself in power," he said.

    Investigative journalists in Ivory Coast have also pointed out to recent deals which gave Angola's government stakes in the national Ivorian oil refinery.

    The ambassador from Lebanon, which has a large merchant community in Ivory Coast, was the only ambassador other than the one from Angola who attended Mr. Gbagbo's swearing-in ceremony for a new mandate earlier this month.

    Mr. Gbagbo's outside support also includes high-profile lobbyists in the United States, such as Lanny Davis, who is now on Mr. Gbagbo's payroll.  Davis says he is helping to resolve the Ivory Coast situation through dialogue and mediation.  

    But it appears for most of the international community, there is little room left for such a tactic.

    The United Nations, the African Union, the West African body ECOWAS, and foreign governments including the former colonial power France and the United States have all said Mr. Ouattara is the president, and that Mr. Gbagbo should step down.  They have followed up with sanctions and threats of military action.

    Stephen Smith, an anthropologist at Duke University, says the clarity of comments by officials worldwide has been unprecedented. "For the first time that I can remember a special representative of the United Nations has called the bluff on an election, not only observing an election, but actually speaking out after the election and clearly certifying who was the winner and secondly being followed by the international community in an unprecedented way," he said.

    Despite this international support, Mr. Ouattara has been holed up in a hotel in Abidjan, the main southern city. Rebels who still control northern Ivory Coast have pledged their support.  In southern Ivory Coast Mr. Ouattara has little power, especially over coastal ports, state media or lucrative cocoa fields, but he has tried to win influence from outside the country.

    So far, Mr. Ouattara has been able to appoint a new ambassador to the United Nations, and is trying to do the same in many countries.  With his many contacts in international finance, the former International Monetary Fund official has also been able to have the West African regional bank stop making Ivorian money available to Mr. Gbagbo.

    G. Pascal Zachary, a U.S-based professor and the author of a blog called Africa Works, says the balance of international support is clearly in favor of Mr. Ouattara, but that Mr. Gbagbo also knows how to play his cards well.

    Zachary says the international community created a tie when it intervened after civil war broke out in Ivory Coast in 2002, and now must show it can help, rather than make the situation worse. "If the international community cannot affect a positive result in a country like Ivory Coast then we have to think the clock is really getting turned back.  The whole approach to African problems, this multi-lateral approach, civil societies, these wide open forums that African problems are trying to be solved in, it seems like that is a failure," he said.

    A delegation from ECOWAS is due to meet Mr. Gbagbo Tuesday to ask him to make a peaceful exit. Analysts say they doubt that will happen.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.