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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid