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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs