News / Africa

Ivory Coast President Gbagbo Scrapes to Survive in Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has also been able to count on the support of southern and western-based militias (File Photo)
Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has also been able to count on the support of southern and western-based militias (File Photo)
Nico Colombant

Analysts, diplomats and his political opponents say incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is using all sorts of methods to stay in power despite growing international pressure and sanctions to force him to leave office after controversial elections last year.

Meetings took place in Mali's capital Bamako Tuesday among West African military chiefs to discuss a possible regional military intervention.

Meanwhile, diplomats in Abidjan said African Union mediator Raila Odinga again failed to convince Mr. Gbagbo to leave office, or even have him meet his challenger, the internationally-recognized winner of the November 28 run-off Alassane Ouattara.

There were a flurry of other meetings to discuss the seven-week crisis including one between the president of the former colonial power France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, one of many previous mediators in the Ivorian stalemate.

In an upcoming meeting, West African heads of state are due to meet Saturday in Bamako to discuss effectively blocking the Ivorian account from Mr. Gbagbo's government at the Senegal-based West African regional bank. The block was previously approved, but has not yet been implemented.

While all this talking is taking place, Africa analyst J. Peter Pham says many actors in the international community are finding out more and more about the resilience of Mr. Gbagbo, a former history professor and long-time opposition activist, who had already managed to push back the elections five years amid failed peace deals with northern rebels.

"He has got two things, patience from being an opposition politician, and as an academic, he tends to be very legalistic," he said.

This includes having had the country's constitutional council throw out votes from the rebel-held north, and overturn results that were announced outside legal delays by the national election commission. He has also hired French lawyers to defend his case in international courts.

Financially, Mr. Gbagbo has pushed cocoa businessmen to pay advances on export taxes, as part of efforts to keep paying civil servants and southern security forces, a monthly tab evaluated at up to $100 million.

Mr. Ouattara, who is holed up in a hotel in the main southern city Abidjan, has warned any payments made to Mr. Gbagbo will have to be paid back to his own government.  

Ivory Coast also owes money, but Mr. Gbagbo's side says since it is not recognized, it has stopped paying interest payments due on existing government bonds.

Diplomatically, analysts say a chess battle is taking place as well. Mr. Gbagbo's teams of embassy officials in several Western and African capitals are being asked to leave, to be replaced by Ouattara-appointed ambassadors.  But analysts say Mr. Gbagbo has pushed back by reinforcing ties with African allies, most notably Zimbabwe and Angola, while also looking for divisions within the West African grouping ECOWAS.

Militarily, Mr. Gbagbo has responded to the threat of outside military action, by saying this could spark a genocide. He has also sent security forces to carry out raids in Ouattara strongholds in an effort to suppress any type of people power movement.

Daniel Chirot, another U.S.-based expert on Ivory Coast, says he does not believe ECOWAS has the logistics to carry out an operation against Mr. Gbagbo. "In order to do that in Cote d'Ivoire, they would need the logistical support of a major outside force which in this case would mean the French and I am not sure that the French at this point would be willing to engage in that," he said.

After his meeting Tuesday with French President Sarkozy, Burkina Faso President Compaore said he did not wish for any military intervention for the time being.

A Nigerian official who was at the meeting as well, Salamatu Suleiman, said she believed a military intervention would be more effective if it was based on the authority of the United Nations.

Mr. Gbagbo has asked both U.N peacekeepers, and an assisting French rapid reaction force, to leave Ivory Coast, a request that has been ignored.

But in a victory for his side, an expected U.N. Security Council vote on Tuesday to send additional peacekeepers to Ivory Coast was postponed over objections from Russia. Analysts and diplomats are pointing out that Russia's oil giant Lukoil is currently exploring for crude in Ivory Coast, and that Russia is another country which could give Mr. Gbagbo much needed financial, strategic and diplomatic backing in the days ahead.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs