A legal adviser to Ivorian incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo says the renewed U.N. sanctions imposed Wednesday on the embattled leader are, in his words, highly unlikely to force Gbagbo to step down and cede power to the internationally-recognized President, Alassane Ouattara.
This came after Gbagbo re-scheduled an address to the nation for Thursday following reports that the rebels have seized control of the country’s capital, Yamoussoukro.
Augustin Douoguih says the world body is using a template to judge the West African nation.
“What are sanctions going to do against Gbagbo? This is a man when he takes a vacation he goes to an Ivorian village. If he goes out of the country, he goes to places like Banjul [Gambia], another African country. He is not a person who is into luxury; he doesn’t have a single bank account abroad; he is happy among his own people. What are these sanctions going to do to him? Nothing,” said Douoguih.
“In fact, when the first round of sanctions was imposed, one local newspaper in Abidjan noticed, ironically, that [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy said, ‘If you see a bank account with Mr. Gbagbo’s name on it please, please take all the money out of it,’” he added.
A spokeswoman for the New Forces rebels, who support Gbagbo's presidential rival, says pro-Ouattara fighters entered Yamoussoukro Wednesday, after making major advances across Ivory Coast. Residents say pro-Gbagbo forces fled and that pro-Ouattara forces walked and drove through the streets.
But, Douoguih says the rebels were aided by both French forces and UN soldiers in the country.
“It’s really not a rebel advance. The information I have is that the UN peacekeeping force, the French force Lincoln, and elements of ECOMOG, the West African military force, are the ones who are advancing. The rebel elements that are from Ivory Coast long ago really gave up because their fight was never intended to kill their own parents, relatives and friends,” Douoguih said.
Douoguih says Gbagbo will, in his words, continue to fight for the liberation of Ivory Coast from French aggression and interference. And, he denied reports that Gbagbo will soon step down.
“I don’t think President Gbagbo has given up. That’s not in his nature. This man fought too hard for the liberation of Ivory Coast to be giving up now. What you must realize is that the media war in this is a very uneven one. The West has enormous resources and they have been engaging in this sort of disinformation for a long time, from the beginning of the crisis,” said Douoguih.
“They want to demoralize the population in the hopes that the population will rise and ask for Gbagbo to leave. In fact, if anything, it’s invigorated [them] by the fact that the young people massively enrolled in the military and, this weekend, they had a tremendous rally, which the Western press has studiously avoided reporting [on],” he added.