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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid