News / Africa

Mediators Finding No Progress in Ivory Coast Dispute

Presidents of Benin Boni Yayi (C) arrives in Abidjan to hold separate talks with Laurent Gbagbo and his rival, Alassane Ouattara, 28 Dec 2010
Presidents of Benin Boni Yayi (C) arrives in Abidjan to hold separate talks with Laurent Gbagbo and his rival, Alassane Ouattara, 28 Dec 2010
Nico Colombant

While the international community is pushing in many directions to have incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo step down, they are finding no success one month after a disputed election. Analysts now say the much anticipated and costly election may not have been the solution to the Ivorian problem the international community was hoping for.

Three West African leaders spent the day meeting protagonists in the main southern commercial city Abidjan Tuesday with no visible sign of progress on having Mr. Gbagbo leave power.  The side of his rival Alassane Ouattara said its own position of Mr. Ouattara as president was also not negotiable.

Diplomats have said Mr. Gbagbo and his hardline supporters have been offered a combination of international protection from prosecution, promises of asylum and money, but that they are refusing such advances, preferring an inquiry into the election and vote counting.

The West African grouping ECOWAS, as well as the United Nations, the African Union and many countries all say Mr. Ouattara won the November 28 election, as initially announced by the national election commission.  But the Ivorian constitutional council threw out votes from the rebel-held north, charging fraud, and gave victory to Mr. Gbagbo.

A planned pro-Gbagbo march scheduled for Wesdnesday was postponed indefinitely, to give time, its organizers said, for more diplomacy. But in a sign of the potential for more violence to come, Tuesday, a U.N. peacekeeping convoy was attacked by a mob, and one peacekeeper was injured by a machete.

J. Peter Pham, a U.S.-based Africa analyst, says the Ivorian crisis comes at a terrible time, as key African and world leaders will soon have many other pressing issues to deal with. "Nigeria, the heavyweight on the block, has not only internal violence which has been increasing but it has got the presidential primaries of its ruling party coming up in about two weeks time and it is distracted by that.  With the Sudan referendum also coming up, and everyone focused on that, especially the United States, this is a crisis that could not have happened at a worse time if you will from the point of view of getting international focus on it," he said.

In the last round of violence which took place in Abidjan earlier this month during an attempt by Mr. Ouattara's supporters to occupy state buildings, human rights investigators say more than 170 people were killed. They also say nighttime raids were carried out by pro-Gbagbo security forces and militia, leading to dozens of cases of torture, disappearances and arrests.

Pham does not believe the threat of outside military action made by ECOWAS to topple Mr. Gbagbo will be carried out, for logistical reasons as well as future considerations for the credibility of having neutral peacekeeping forces.

He says even though the election was delayed five years, Mr. Gbagbo and his supporters were clearly not ready to leave power.

Daniel Chirot, a U.S.-based sociologist who has closely studied the situation in Ivory Coast, had also predicted this outcome. "Any sort of a solution has to be based on this realization that you do not just fix a deeply divided society by holding an election in which one side wins and the other side loses and then feels that it has to reject the results of the election," he said.

Former rebels who still occupy the north of Ivory Coast said they started their insurgency in late 2002 in part because Mr. Ouattara had not been allowed to run in previous elections, amid doubts concerning his nationality. They also wanted more northerners, many of them undocumented residents and the descendants of migrant workers, to be allowed to vote.

G. Pascal Zachary, another U.S.-based African analyst and widely read blogger, says the so-called international community has pursued a very technical, election-based approach to the Ivory Coast problem.

"There is no real effort on the part of these outsiders to understand anything about Ivory Coast. It is all just, here is a technical process, just follow it but you see the shortcomings of that. It is both promising but also the difficulties that (Mr.) Ouattara will face if he does take full control of the government are not trivial, that the longer that this stalemate goes on the more that is a possible outcome, that people will just say, hey the world is a very messy place right now, let us just abandon Ivory Coast to this dysfunctional politics because one thing that a lot of African countries have shown and I think Ivory Coast has shown it as well is that commercial life can sometimes prove surprisingly resilient in the face of a political breakdown," he said.

Analysts say in cynical terms that Mr. Ouattara would have more to gain at this point from a resurgence of violence, in an aim to topple Mr. Gbagbo by force, and that Mr. Gbagbo is satisfied as long as he controls the army, ports, state media and lucrative cocoa fields in southern Ivory Coast.

They also say Mr. Ouattara's attempts to change Ivory Coast ambassadors abroad and strangle money from international banks have had little effect so far in terms of the balance of power in Abidjan. Tuesday, a statement read on state television said Ivory Coast would cut ties with countries that recognize a Ouattara appointment and threatened to expel their own diplomats. Mr. Ouattara, himself, remains holed up in a hotel protected by U.N peacekeepers and former rebels.

In terms of internal politics, Stephen Smith, an anthropologist and Africa expert at Duke University, says Mr. Ouattara may have made a tactical mistake when he re-appointed former rebel leader Guillaume Soro as prime minister in his until now symbolic post-election government.

Smith says it may have been wiser for Mr. Ouattara to further boost his election alliance with former President Henri Konan Bedie. "At least psychologically one would argue that that was a signal to say he needed an army. Gbagbo has the loyalist army and he (Mr. Ouattara) needed an army and he was ready to ally with the rebel forces.  I think that what actually pulled off his victory was his alliance with Bedie, a more centrist, and less militaristic, bellicose protagonist that he gave up very quickly and maybe hastily," he said.

So far, Mr. Bedie and his main backers have sided with Mr. Ouattara politically, but in terms of a people power type movement in Abidjan, calls for new marches against Mr. Gbagbo, for general civil disobedience and for a mass strike this week have largely been ignored.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs