News / USA

    Ivory Coast Battle Over Embassies Moves to Washington

    Protesters in front of the Ivory Coast embassy in Washington, DC, 30 Dec 2010
    Protesters in front of the Ivory Coast embassy in Washington, DC, 30 Dec 2010
    Nico Colombant

    The Ivory Coast battle over ambassadors has moved to Washington where supporters of internationally-recognized President Alasanne Ouattara apparently forced the Ivorian embassy to shut down.  Incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is refusing to step down following elections in November, despite growing outside pressure including from diplomatic postings.

    Protesters were hoping to storm the embassy and take down Mr. Gbagbo's photograph inside the Ivory Coast embassy in Washington.

    But military guards refused them access, telling them the embassy was shut down for the holidays until January 3.

    So instead the protesters put up a sign in French reading the "Ivory Coast ambassador has fled, Mr. Gbagbo is a rebel," outside the entrance.

    Protesters had gotten a permit for the demonstration, and some said they believed this led to Ivorian authorities being alerted.  Several police cars milled around.

    But one of the protest organizers Yacouba Kone considered Thursday's action a victory.

    "They decided to close because we were coming to do a demonstration, because they are scared of us," said Kone. "This is a victory for us because, running away, it is like a war, when you run away, you are scared, so we won.  Surely they know that they are not [representing] the legitimate president of Ivory Coast so they are scared, and we will come back another day for the demonstration."

    Several families and individuals who came by to pick up visas or deliver paperwork were turned away.  A call to the embassy for comment was not answered.

    Earlier in the week, an embassy spokesman said the ambassador previously appointed by Mr. Gbagbo, Charles Koffi was still at his desk working, but there was no sign of him at the compound on Thursday.

    The protest in Washington follows similar protests around the world.

    Countries where Ivorian embassies have been disrupted include France, Mali and Belgium, while this week an ambassador named by Mr. Ouattara received his credentials at the United Nations.

    European countries and the United States have also said they are ready to work with diplomats appointed by Mr. Ouattara. Ivorian state media threatened that if that happens they will expel diplomats from those countries from Ivory Coast.

    The Ivorian election commission and the United Nations declared Mr. Ouattara the winner in last month's election in an election partly organized by the world body. But the Ivorian constitutional council threw out votes from the Ivory Coast rebel-held north, giving victory to Mr. Gbagbo.

    U.S.-based Africa analyst J. Peter Pham says although these diplomatic disputes are grabbing headlines, he does not believe they alter the balance of power in southern Ivory Coast, where Mr. Gbagbo still controls the army, cocoa fields, state media and ports.

    "It does not solve [Mr.] Ouattara's basic problem," said Pham. "The fact is his base of support is in the north. He has very little support in the south in the military and in the government bureaucracy so even if [Mr.] Gbagbo bows out tomorrow he is going to have a very difficult  time governing with a government bureaucracy that looks very suspiciously upon him."

    Mr. Ouattara has gotten the reins of Ivorian accounts in international banks, trying to strangle the pay of government workers who support Mr. Gbagbo. He remains holed up in a hotel in the main southern commercial city Abidjan, under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers and former rebels.

    Meanwhile, the incumbent president has recruited two high-profile French lawyers, Jacques Verges and Roland Dumas in his latest strategy to stay in power. His aides say he is trying to have his election victory upheld in West African and other international courts.

    The U.N-sponsored election was supposed to end an eight-year division in Ivory Coast, but instead has exacerbated tensions and led to new violence, including repeated attacks by pro-Gbagbo forces targeting pro-Ouattara neighborhoods in Abidjan.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora