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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid