Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Elections in Ivory Coast (Part 2)

On the BBC World Service's African Perspective, 11 Dec., provides some interesting background, on how things have developed since the death of Félix Houphouët-Boigny in 1993. I would also suggest reading the article on fr.wikipedia  (Ces problèmes connaissent une exacerbation à la mort de Félix Houphouët-Boigny en 1993.)

One thing that is not acceptable, as more than one commentator has remarked, is a "power sharing" agreement as in Kenya or Zimbabwe (African Perspective, 22:45; Le telephone sonne, 13 Dec). On the other hand, Guillaume Soro said that a Ouattara government would be open to Gbagbo supporters.

Back to events as they unfold.

Thursday, Ouattara's supporters march on the state-controlled broadcasting centre. They said in advance they would be unarmed - les bras nus - but clearly some armed clashes took place and tens of people were killed. Control of radio and TV is key: no private broadcasters are allowed to operate and since the election exclusively pro-Gbagbo propaganda has been put out (RFI).

Sarkozy gives Gbagbo a deadline of Saturday, which passes. Gbagbo threatens the UN and French forces in the country. The UN extends its mandate. Reports of clashes in the central region include one of a man with his hands above his head who was shot down.

Sunday 19 Dec, BBC WS, World Today (8:05), Stephen Smith, professor at Duke University again made the point that Gbagbo could be a hostage of his own camp with his wife, Simone, a Pentecostalist, having a millenarian vision of his right to rule in perpetuity (she is his first wife (of two, RFI, 20 Dec)). Those around him "have made a lot of money in the last ten years".

20 Dec, it is said that the crunch will come for Gbagbo when, not having access to international bank accounts, he has to pay the salaries of his civil servants and army in December. I think control of money cannot bring this regime down. Power comes from the control of real resources. But maybe I'm wrong. (The salaries were in fact paid - RFI, 24 Dec. The government of Mali denied reports in the Ivory Coast press that they had been instrumental in deblocking the money ... - RFI, 26 Dec. 

Pro-Gbagbo demonstrations in Paris: via Twitter : ... Ein Volk, Ein Reich Ein Fuhrer.

21 Dec, Gbagbo seemed to me to have made a big concession in offering to accept an international commission to examine the facts around the election. Others however regard this as a trick to divide Africa (France Inter). BBC WS had somebody from the US State Department who also thought there was no point in taking up Gbagbo's offer, arguing along the lines of this Tweet: "Credible, accredited, and independent election observers have [already] declared the election to be fair. ( , 22 Dec.).

In an echo of events in Ivory Coast, in Gabon the opposition has complained about the way members of the Constitutional court are designated, by people in the ruling party only, but they are in no position to block this process, since they control neither chamber of the parliament. Doubts have recently been raised in a documentary on French television about the elections in 2009 (RFI, 19 Dec.). By contrast, in Guinea, which a year ago looked a real mess, a legal and peaceable transition of power is now taking place.

27 Dec. (BBC WS) The threat of sanctions has caused the price of cocoa to rise, but since there are not actually any effective sanctions  in place, the money has continued to flow into the Gbagbo regime. Later they had on Gary Bush with his wacko views - it's all a plot by France, to maintain control of the monetary system via the CFA, to prevent any commercial competition from China etc.,  the electoral commission is controlled by the French company Sagem, etc.

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