Although I maintain my position on the idea there has been an international effort to get rid of Gbagbo and that double standards have been applied to the country since the 2002 failed coup and French military intervention, it has been pointed out to me by several sources (some hostile, some friendly) that my arguments were not sufficiently researched and I was undermining my position. I am sure we will see in the weeks to come that the International Community misjudged their hand. If I have the time (I am no academic or State Deparmment official with lots of access and aid) I will try to develop my arguments further. But I cannot promise I will find the time.
In the meantime, to get a balanced approach to the Ivory Coast, which you are not getting in most of the Western Press, check out what those African politicians and academics who back Gbagbo are saying.
I am enclosing below a statement from former Ghanaen President Jerry J. Rawlings which I feel strongly reflects the position of many Africans.
Accra, Dec. 24, GNA – Former President Jerry John Rawlings has reiterated his call for extreme restraint in the management of the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.
In a statement issued on Thursday, three days after he called for restraint and maturity by all stakeholders in the crisis, President Rawlings said the situation in Cote d’Ivoire was not a simple electoral dispute but a web of ethnic and political complexities that should be handled with tact and diplomacy rather than the open hints of forceful intervention.
He said the disputed results clearly indicated that Cote d’Ivoire was sharply divided on ethnic lines and that was a matter that should worry major stakeholders such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) as they considered options to resolve the impasse.
Former President Rawlings said: “The two men at the centre of the dispute have both indicated their preparedness to see a recount or further verification of the results by neutral observers. Is there any hidden motive in refusing to take up the challenge being offered by the two parties?
“It is also important that we do not rush into any form of forceful intervention. That will not guarantee a definite resolution of the crisis and may further exacerbate an already volatile situation that could erupt into a full-scale civil war with horrific consequences.”
He said attempts to marshal support for a military intervention lacked any justification and rather would expose the UN, ECOWAS and AU as being hypocritical.
“More outrageous election results have taken place without intervention. How can we justify an intervention in this instance, when the results are so close and divided along ethnic lines? Let us investigate all the peaceful options available rather than a military intervention that cannot establish a peaceful political transition in Cote d’Ivoire.”
The former president said the situation was definitely embarrassing to Africa, but equally worrying was the fact that a lot had been left unreported by the international media.
Former President Rawlings said reports by some of the major election observers condemning the conduct of the elections in several parts of the country had been totally ignored by the international media.
He said some regions recorded votes higher than the total list of registered voters with one area having 159,788 “valid” votes from a list of 48,400 registered voters.
“These, plus the fact that in certain areas electoral commission staff and some party polling agents were not allowed to manage the process, require that a proper investigation should be urgently instituted.
“There are many unanswered crucial questions. The details of the report of AU envoy, President Thabo Mbeki should be made public to help unravel the nature of the situation.”
Former President Rawlings said it was also imperative that ECOWAS called an emergency meeting to invite both parties in the crisis as well as representatives of all observer missions who covered the elections to state their case.
“We have to tread carefully for the sake of the people of Cote d’Ivoire who are the real victims of this tragedy. I am appealing to ECOWAS and other international institutions involved in the crisis to take a hard look at the situation and do all in their power to resolve it in a peaceful manner,” President Rawlings said.
Cote d’Ivoire has been thrown into turmoil after the November 28 presidential run-off between incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and veteran opposition leader Alassane Ouattara who have both claimed victory.
Ouattara was declared winner by the independent electoral commission while the constitutional council quashed the result and declared Gbagbo the winner.
The international community has recognised Ouattara’s victory and has been applying pressure on Gbagbo to concede defeat.