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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
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 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 Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
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 Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
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 Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs