Ivory Coast Tragedy 42


In the short term, military force might be able to install Ouattara as President of Ivory Coast. But the ethnic and religious divisions of the civil war have been reopened, and deepened. Ivory Coast desperately needs a healing figure, somebody who is not Ouattara or Gbagbo. Having been imposed on Abidjan by force, Ouattara will only stay there by force. The future looks bleak.

Many thousands have been killed in the last week. The massacre of 800 civilians at Duekoue is only the worst individual event. It was carried out by fighters from the old LURD camp in the Liberian civil war, brought across the border by Ouattara with French money. That money has also brought in Burkinese and Senegalese fighters for Ouattara.

This is a tragedy for Africa, because it devalues democracy. Ouattara, with a strong personal push from Sarkozy, secured international recognition for his election victory. In truth it was an extremely dubious election, with no freedom for Ouattara supporters in the South or for Gbagbo supporters in the North in a poisonous contest. It would have been better for everyone if Gbagbo had accepted that he lost and left quietly. But the truth is that both sides’ claims of victory are fallacious. This was nothing like a free and fair election. Somehow the UN and the international community finds itself in the position of imposing by force, fighting alongside the perpetrators of massacre, the “democratically elected” victor. This denigrates democracy.

Nor should it be forgotten that Gbagbo’s forces had been responsible for plenty of killing of innocent civilians, particularly among the Ouattara minority in Abidjan itself. The international community should declare that both men have shown they are unfit to rule, and disqualify both from new elections.


42 thoughts on “Ivory Coast Tragedy

  • Guano

    Precisely. It has been clear for over 10 years that, on their own, elections would not solve the problems of Ivory Coast, which have built up steadily since the collapse of cocoa prices in about 1980, the structural adjustment programmes, the distmantling of the structures supervising the cocoa trade and the growng divisions (as a result) between those from the north and the south. Yet the UN and the French have pretended for the last 10 years that elections would solve anything and have not paid attention to rebuilding basic state administration, rebuilding and regulating the cocoa industry. The logic of their belief in elections as the magic bullet for Ivory Coast's problems then drags them into using military power to install the winner of the elections, something that creates its own set of serious problems.

  • ingo

    Listening to baroness Amos this morning, most likely looking after her own extensive African interests in that area, it becomes clear that certain countries support Quattarra, whilst others, like her, like the status qo under Gbagbo.
    I agree with new elections, but that would have to be under UN auspices, the same outfit that has Quattarra as the winner, not a good omen, could the Afircan congress be put in charge of overseeing another election?
    The attrocities should be investigated and both candidates disqualified for their murderous excesses.
    Many refugees are starining Liberia and Ghana, rising tensions along etnic and religious lines could easily spread into the whole region, discuss.

  • evgueni

    Elections do not a democracy make. Concentration of power in a single individual is the antithesis of democracy why can't you see that?

    A highly hierarchical structure like this guarantees that the stakes are immense and that extreme corruption is inevitable. Such is human nature. Compromise is less likely and violence is more likely under such a system and it is particularly unsuitable to inhomogeneous states with arbitrarily drawn borders like most of post-colonial Africa and elsewhere. The only way to counteract human nature is with institutions that take advantage of the good in it and inhibit the bad. One of the simplest such institutions is a rotating presidency for example.

    But really an elected president is just a reductio ad absurdum of the "representative democracy" model – one representative for all. To call rule by representative(s) a democracy is the biggest slight of hand imaginable.

    Please do not participate in this self-deception.

    • CanSpeccy

      Quite right, but the imperial powers don't want democracy, they want a subservient dictator to wield total power to insure a flow of resources to the benefit of the empire — with a percentage going in graft and corruption as an inevitable consequence.

    • John K

      Democracy in the fullest sense (government by the people) has never been tried anywhere in the world; it has hitherto been impossible in practice.

      Perhaps it could with new technology now be feasible. But the chance of the ruling elite anywhere (including the UK) agreeing to anything resembling democracy is zero. Politics is about keeping the real power to the elite, just as capitalism is about power, profit and control not competition and fairness.

      • evgueni

        I am repeating myself and I can almost hear the groans.. but here it goes again – Switzerland is a democracy in the fullest sense. No technology is needed, just the right of Initiative & Referendum guaranteed by the Constitution and unrestricted in scope (so that the Constitution itself can be modified by the people as they see fit).

        Of course the other necessary but not sufficient condition for democracy is information. So far as I know the Swiss mass media are not under democratic control but there are legal constraints on it to act impartially under certain conditions e.g. in the run up to referenda etc.

  • Paul Johnston

    Not sure how declaring both are unfit to rule would work.
    Do you keep having elections until the person YOU want wins?
    What legitimacy would that bring?
    I know if another country said Cameron was not fit to rule for whatever reason I would respond with for better or worse he was choosen by us not US.
    It is difficult I know but external imposition of leadership never works, Hamid Karzi for example 🙂
    P.S. Craig what category is this post suppose to be in ?

  • External

    No matter how one wants to skin the cat, it looks like the FrançAfrique is well and alive. The only question ; who is the Jacques Koch-Foccart of Nicholas Sarkozy?

  • spectral

    I'm watching (again, after may years) the Cosmos of great Karl Sagan. Among many great political messages that Karl Sagan somehow in his quiet and non-intrusive style in this scientific series is this:

    He is speaking about the Alexandria Great Library and its thousands of the books, and Aristotle who had argued that humanity was/is divided among the Greek and everybody else, who he called "barbarians".

    "Here were clearly the seeds of our modern world. But why didn't they take root and flourish? Why, indeed, did the West slumber through 1000 years of darkness until Columbus and Copernicus and their contemporaries rediscovered the work done here?

    I cannot give you simple answer but I do know this: There is no record in the entire history of the library that any of the illustrious scholars and scientists who worked here ever seriously challenged a single political or political or religious assumption of the society in which they lived.

    The permanence of the stars was questioned. The justice of slavery was not. "

    Not much has changed ever since. Still the city of Athene is taken as excellence of society albeit it was slavery state. There is individuals who challenge social order but as we can see the slavery is get new name like: social contract, fair wage or minimum wage (or working poor) in so-called advanced countries which are enforced with social constructs that came from academia. This vulgar economy in so-called peripherals countries has true form of slavery in the field while elites fight for the power which they obtain in "free and fair" elections. Definition of "free and fair" is story for itself whether in advanced or peripheral countries, simply, it is fraud. The story about democracy is matter for social-psychologists not for political figurehead which are hunkered down to principle of Nation-state and capitalism which lead to permanent wars.

    • angrysoba

      "Not much has changed ever since. Still the city of Athene is taken as excellence of society albeit it was slavery state. There is individuals who challenge social order but as we can see the slavery is get new name like: social contract, fair wage or minimum wage (or working poor) in so-called advanced countries which are enforced with social constructs that came from academia."

      Come on, you can't say that "not much has changed" since the Dark Ages. It might be hyperbolicly pleasing for you to equate minimum wage with slavery but morally this is pretty shoddy stuff. I imagine slaves of that time would be appalled at you pretending you're no better off than they were.

      Oh, and it's "Carl", not "Karl".

    • angrysoba

      Also, I'd have to watch the particular episode of Cosmos but Columbus makes for a curious exemplar of enlightenment values.

  • spectral

    Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
    – Joseph E. Stiglitz
    http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/0

  • Guano

    The theory is that the individual rules through institutions and these institutions hold the individual to acount. This is far from the case in Ivory Coast, where the highly individualised structure around the first president broke down with his death and the fall in the price of cocoa. More than 10 years of war have eroded what basic administration there was. The New Forces made no attemtp to run an administration in the north. In the south it was a phantom administration. So the assumption seems to be that whoever gets to be president will rebuild the administration and accountable institutions that will hold him to account. That's a big leap of faith!

    • spectral

      I had no idea who is who in Ivory Coast, until I read this article:
      http://www.salon.com/news/africa/index.html?story

      "This is a crooked election. But nevertheless the UN has said the other guy [Ouattara] won. Well, that may be. But the problem is that this is a country now that has been run by a Christian that's going to be into the hands of Muslims. So it's one more Muslim nation that's going to be built into that ring of Sharia law around the Middle East. It's one more country, one more danger spot, but we don't seem to see that right now, do we?"

      I, always suspect that Pastor Terry Jones is not "loner", i.e. the burning of Koran was not random act. Now I know where is the support is coming from. So, never mind elections and democracy, religious affiliation is on the top of everything.

  • CanSpeccy

    "The international community should declare that both men have shown they are unfit to rule, and disqualify both from new elections."

    In response to the declaration, both candidates will say "eff off".

    So how's the disqualification to be done. Obamy's second war of 2011?

    Liberals, it seems, never learn anything from history, they just want to go on repeating it over and over again. LOL

    • glenn_uk

      Surely you can't be referring to that corporate centre-rightist Obama as a "liberal" ?

      • CanSpeccy

        Obarmy is what passes for a Liberal today. He is a liberal neo-imperialist. The liberal neo-imperialists do the job of destroying the nation state even more effectively than the neo-con imperialists. However, both parties are merely factions of the ruling elite, the 1%, the Toffs, as Craig calls them.

        The neocons promote mass migration to destroy national entities and justify the process as integral to the working of the free market. The liberals promote mass migration to destroy national entities on the grounds that it relieves poverty in the third world and breaks down racist nationalisms.

        The neocon imperialists breakdown national entities into futile trivialities such as Scotland and Wales, while incorporating the pieces into imperial formations such as the EU and NAFTA on the grounds that it promotes economic development. The liberal neo-imperialists breakdown national entities into futile trivialities on the basis of whimpering about English exploitation of natural resources and English cultural domination, etc.

        The neocons launch wars of aggression and colonial occupation on the pretext that they, the intended victims, hate our freedoms. The liberal neo-imperialists launch wars of aggression and colonial occupation on the pretext of preventing dictators from killing their own people.

      • CanSpeccy

        But what's really lovely about the Liberals is their stupendous hypocrisy:

        Clegg got two jobs through his millionaire father but now rules parents shouldn't be allowed to open doors for their children
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1373634/N

        All in the interests of loosening the influence of parents and families to enhance the influence of the liberal neo-imperialist elite.

        • glenn_uk

          Come on, first of all you're calling that establishment stooge Obama a "liberal", and now Clegg too. Nobody – unless the term were being redefined before our lying eyes – could call either a "liberal" with a straight face. I don't care what they say, they are politicians, and so lie as easily as you or I breathe. What they do is all that matters, what they say is as worthless as what horoscopes say. Although, horoscopes might be interpreted as the truth given a certain squint and indulgent reflection, whereas what the ruling classes say is generally the polar opposite of the truth.

          I daresay Obama passes for a "liberal" today, going back to your first reply. By the mainstream media's standards Mussolini is looking more moderate by the day, while Reagan and Nixon are starting to look suspiciously like Marxists. "Environmental Protection Agency" indeed, and taxes on unearned income for the super-rich at a positively Trotskyite 28%! By Christ, they'd never pass muster these days.

          The talk in the meedja, both here and the US, is "what do we cut?" That's our national debate. Not, "Who should we tax more?", or even about loopholes that we should eliminate, that allows massively profitably industries and individuals (such as that filthy money-grubber Green) to pay no tax at all. No, it's all about how we should stick it to the little guy, after banksters crashed our economy.

          CanSpeccy – if genuine liberals are being idiots, by all means call them on it. But let's not pollute language by obligingly them as they shift along the spectrum, and refer to the centre as the mid-point between wherever we are right now and total insanity. We've been ratcheting to the right for over 30 years. As Dennis Skinner famously pointed out, the fastest way of becoming a left-winger in the Labour party is to hold your position for six months.

          • coiaorguk

            I agree with your insight on 'destruction' CanSpeccy and I wrote a succinct critique of Obama's apparent u-turn or recent reversal to trial 'terrorists' in civilian courts. Rudy Giuliani's prediction that the 9/11 conspirators trial is going to be moved to Gitmo at a military tribunal is correct now that Obama has decided to axe the trial in New York City.

            Unfortunately this important veil on inevitable disclosures of torture was censored on this board – Not happy!

    • coiaorguk

      I agree with your insight on 'destruction' CanSpeccy and I wrote a succinct critique of Obama's apparent u-turn or recent reversal to trial 'terrorists' in civilian courts. Rudy Giuliani's prediction that the 9/11 conspirators trial is going to be moved to Gitmo at a military tribunal is correct now that Obama has decided to axe the trial in New York City.

      • CanSpeccy

        Good speech by Geert Wilders to the Magna Carta Foundation, in which he talks of the transformation of the nation state:
        http://canspeccy.blogspot.com/2011/04/failure-of-

        "The EU’s aim, meanwhile, seems to be to destroy the old sovereign nations and replace them by new provincial identities, which are all clones of each other. Britanistan will not differ from Netherlandistan, nor Germanistan from Italiastan, or any other province of the European superstate in the making."

        Although if the advocates of petty nationalism get their way it will not be Britanistan but Scotchistan, Welshistan and Anglostan.

  • Ishmael

    it never ends. It never will. Humans are evil. Put all those who claim purity in positions of power and see them repeat the same mistakes against humanity.

    [MR22] Unlucky morons. Fell in the trap. Only western intelligence could have replicated the inception to extract the information. You failed. Next time you might not want to allow me to get the car. Now I know you know your target. I'm waiting……

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Canspeccy – you said:-

    " Quite right, but the imperial powers don't want democracy, they want a subservient dictator to wield total power to insure a flow of resources to the benefit of the empire — with a percentage going in graft and corruption as an inevitable consequence."

    Could not agree more – the the West glosses the imperial mission with nice sounding words and phrases:-

    "Demoracy"
    "Will of the international community"
    " Protecting their human rights"

    etc. – more like aiming at their resources if you ask me.

  • CanSpeccy

    They call themselves liberals or are generally understood to be liberals, so that's what liberals are, so far as I am concerned.

    Anyhow, what is this pure and uncontaminated thing, a "genuine liberal"?

    Old William Ewart Gladstone, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, went over the government accounts demanding to know what this person or that did. Unless a satisfactory answer were provided he had 'em sacked. And income tax was precisely zero. More Reaganite than Reagan. And he had no compunction about beating up arabs, ordering the bombardment of Alexandria, starting the Anglo-Egyptian War, which resulted in the occupation of Egypt — all to protect English investments in Egypt, including his own. He was, it seems to me, the perfect role model for Clogg — a total humbug.

  • Michael.K

    I think it's somewhat troubling that the United Nations seems to be evolving into an organisation that facilitates war, almost acting like a rubber stamp, rather than an organisation that hinders more war by promoting conflict resolution. The West seems to be going to war, and is ready to use military force, more and more, and with increasing ease.

    One positive thing is that the UK public, as far as one can tell, isn't as enamoured with war as our political class is. It's odd that our 'unrepresentative democracy' ignores the views of the people with something close to disdain. Parliament votes, close to unanamously, for yet another war, however, the 'debate' is virtually non-existant, and the opposition of large sections of the population is simply pissed on by our supposedly 'free' media, who, as usual, in wartime, become little more than a mouthpiece for the government. If this is 'democracy', then you can have it.

  • coiaorguk

    Why has my post count been reduced to zero – or is my presence not required on this board – very upset with the moderation here I'm afraid – are we in Malta?

    • Craig_Murray

      Sorry, as I keep explaining comment moderation has to be on, for some technical reason I don't understand, until after Intense Debate has finished loading all the old comments from the old website, which means a few weeks.

  • coiaorguk

    I entered this board as mark_golding but this login failed and I was required to login thru my WordPress account coiaorguk – WHY?

  • John K

    Craig

    On what basis is the "International Community" (if such a thing exists) qualified to decide whether Ouattara or Gbagbo or both are "unfit to rule" – in comparison with say the Saudi royal family, the Chinese government, Mugabe (fill in the name of your favourite nasty despot)?

    Sure this is a matter for the Ivorian people?

    A new election in which both can stand but the election is run by the OAU / UN seems to me more likely to lead to long-term stability in a country which seems to be evenly split north / south.

    Presumably a new constiution giving high levels of regional autonomy is also desirable for the long term, to avoid this polarisation – but only IF the Ivorian people agree to this.

  • Tarig Anter

    Sarkozy and his regime of thieves and crooked businesses must be humiliated worldwide; French soldiers; nationals and those from French decent must be kicked out from Africa immediately; and France itself must be destroyed to be rebuild on ethical; honest; and democratic basis.
    France’s looting; violence and exploitation policies must come to an end very soon. They are a shame to humanity and to statehood.

    A nail from Laurent Gbagbo is much worthy from those French mentioned altogether.

    What the hell those French are doing in Ivory Coast? Why they are attacking the forces of Ivory Coast? and supporting a fraud election results that cannot stand scrutiny? Get out you French robbers and thugs!
    Africa and the World are no longer the same and Africans know how to hurt France.

  • Tarig Anter

    Sarkozy and his regime of thieves and crooked businesses must be humiliated worldwide; French soldiers; nationals and those from French decent must be kicked out from Africa immediately; and France itself must be destroyed to be rebuild on ethical; honest; and democratic basis. France's looting; violence and exploitation policies must come to an end very soon. They are a shame to humanity and to statehood.
    A nail from Laurent Gbagbo is much worthy from those French mentioned altogether. What the hell those French are doing in Ivory Coast? Why they are attacking the forces of Ivory Coast? and supporting a fraud election results that cannot stand scrutiny? Get out you French robbers and thugs!
    Africa and the World are no longer the same and Africans know how to hurt France.

  • Jan Wiklund

    If there is anything that will make a bad situation worse, it is foreign intervention. It's not up to any foreign government to tell who should rule Ivory. Only the people there can do it, and if not they nobody.

    I suppose that if there is a strong rivalry between north and south only some kind of a federation would do. But again, this is up to the Ivorians.

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