After the supine response of southern Africa’s governments to Mugabe, Gbagbo must be astonished by what has hit him
That from Paul Collier’s commentary on Cote d’Ivoire in The Guardian. Gbagbo’s initial moves make a lot of sense from a regional and historical perspective. His tenacity may yet be rewarded if international resolve is as low as his opinion of it.
To encourage him out of power, Collier proposes an idea I’ve not heard elsewhere:
Were army officers requested by regional authorities – supported by the international community and Outtara – to remove Gbagbo in an orderly fashion, his position might start to look precarious. After all, a coup can come from many different levels in the military hierarchy.
It is the senior officers who are closest to Gbagbo, but they would know that a coup from lower-ranking officers would spell their own doom – and that lower-ranking officers would find this an attractive strategy for accelerating their careers. If junior officers ousted Gbagbo, their reward would not be an unstable and high-risk presidency, but secure senior military positions.
Therefore, senior army officers might find it safer to pre-empt such a risk, while quietly being reassured by Outtara that they would keep their positions.
This move strikes me as risky, but far less risky than an outside military intervention. It can lead to compromise on both sides, and a degree of power sharing below the executive, without putting someone like Gbagbo visibly at the helm.
At the same time, I worry about measures that create uncertainty, the possibility of rapid power shifts, and first strike advantages to any miltary group. These are the ingredients for chaos. I personally would not push an internal coup without having a well-organized peacekeeping force visibly at hand, ready to deploy.
I hope it stimulates debate. Reader thoughts?