News / Africa

Sanctions Increase Against Stubborn Ivorian President

UN peacekeepers maintain a highly visible presence in Abidjan, Ivory coast, amid concerns of escalating post-election violence in the country, 29 Dec 2010
UN peacekeepers maintain a highly visible presence in Abidjan, Ivory coast, amid concerns of escalating post-election violence in the country, 29 Dec 2010

Multimedia

As the international community presses Ivorian President Gbagbo to step down, economic and political sanctions appear the tools of choice. But will they work?

It's been more than a month since Ivorian presidential elections which most countries consider were won by challenger Alassane Ouattara. But Ivory Coast's incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo clings to power. He gained more time Tuesday, after a delegation of West African leaders failed to convince him to step down. Threats of military intervention by the West African regional group ECOWAS are on hold as negotiations continue.

Still, Washington-based analyst Nu Akuetteh says the widespread international condemnation of Mr. Gbagbo is striking. Akuetteh is former director of the U.S. nongovernmental organization Africa Action, and has spent years working in West Africa. "Africa has had similar crises a lot. But this one is unique in how united the African Union and ECOWAS has been in saying Mr. Gbagbo has to go," Akuetteh said.

For now, economic and political pressure appear the tools of choice. The European Union and the United States have imposed travel restrictions on Mr. Gbagbo and his entourage. The World Bank has frozen loans to Ivory Coast and West Africa's central bank has transferred control of state reserves to Mr. Ouattara.

France, Canada, the European Union and the United Nations no longer recognize Mr. Gbagbo's ambassadors; Mr. Ouattara's newly appointed UN ambassador has already begun work.  And France's Le Figaro newspaper reports the EU may impose new sanctions in early January, if Mr. Gbagbo does not step down.

Akeutteh believes tougher sanctions are needed now - including freezing overseas bank accounts belonging to Mr. Gbagbo and his wife. "I absolutely agree that we have to try sanctions first," Akeutteh explains. "But they must be serious sanctions. I don't think the sancitons that have been pushed so far have been pushed quickly enough and sharply enough."

Video clip: Ivory Coast Diplomat Warns Crisis Threatens to Bring Genocide

Venance Konan, a prominent Ivorian author and independent journalist based in Abidjan, agrees on the need for stronger financial sanctions. "We hope the international community will increase the pressure and we hope that this pressure will work ...not on Mr. Gbagbo, because I think he's absolutely crazy, but on the military, the soldiers who protect him," Konan stated.

Konan says tightening the financial noose may deprive Mr. Gbagbo of the means to paying these soldiers, who may turn against him if they don't get their salaries.

International sanctions have so far failed to dislodge the leader of another African country - President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. But Daniel Bourmaud, Africa analyst and professor at the University of Bordeaux in France, says the case of Mr. Gbagbo is different.

Bourmaud says Mr. Mugabe has always managed to secure a degree of support from some African countries. By contrast, he says the unity of African states in demanding Mr. Gbagbo cede power, is unprecedented.

Meanwhile, observers warn that another option - military intervention to remove Mr. Gbagbo from power - may spark fighting that spills into other African states.

"We're afraid the military option will cause a lot of deaths. But at the end, if the sanctions and the international pressure doesn't work on Mr. Gbagbo, maybe the military option will be the Last," Konan said.

As time drags on, analyst Akuetteh says, it is playing into Mr. Gbagbo's hands.  After years of conflict, Ivorians are tired. And Mr. Gbagbo is an expert at stalling - managing to stay in power for five more years after his presidential mandate expired. "He thinks people will lose interest," he said. "He thinks the international community will turn its interest elsewhere."

If sanctions fail, French analyst Bourmaud says they will show the limits of international diplomacy and African unity. But if they succeed, he believes they may set a precedent for resolving future African crises.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

US Urges Taliban to Remain Engaged in Afghan Peace Talks

US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Daniel Feldman recently met with Pakistani and Afghan officials as talks were disrupted by news of Taliban chief Mullah Omar's death 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs