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

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

Governors of several East Coast states close schools, order travel bans, urge people to stay home as snowfall, heavy winds, flooding continue in areas More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid