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

    Ugandan Opposition Candidate: Only Intimidation, Vote Buying Can Prevent Victory

    Kizza Besigye says he has been drawing large crowds and claims he has widespred support ahead of Feb. 18 vote

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    Sanctions Just Got Real for Over 54,000 North Koreans

    Shuttering of Kaesong complex ends virtually any hope of peaceful settlement to long-standing tensions on Korean peninsula in near future

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.