Cote d’Ivoire speculations (open thread)

For no good reason I feel optimistic about Cote d’Ivoire.

Optimism would be impossible if the French or Americans or main West African states had dithered or come down on different sides (remember the US state department’s disastrous handling of the Kenyan election violence). But you couldn’t ask for a more coherent or resolute international response to the crisis.

Reader insights? Consider the comments an open thread.

To get the discussion started, here’s my relatively uninformed view why Ggbabo has tried to hold onto power this long (and will try for longer):

1. An honest (possibly mistaken) belief that the election was stolen from him by fraud in northern districts. (Iit’s striking how little the press has looked into the possibility.)

2. To strengthen his bargaining position in the hopes for a coalition government. (Cote d’Ivoire is now paying the price for the world taking the easy way out in Kenya and Zimbabwe.)

3. The hope that his resolve lasts longer than the world’s (a perfectly reasonable assumption if you look at the recent or distant past, but probably no longer reasonable.)

4. The alternatives are too terrible.

On the last,  the international community has given Ggbabo a way out (exile) but this is not a terribly credible commitment after reneging on the immunity of Charles Taylor, among others. You can bet Ocampo is watching events with interest, hoping again for that (ever elusive) easy villain and victory for the ICC.

Perhaps more important, it’s not clear to me that anyone has offered the coterie around Ggbabo the same immunity. If I were a youth leader or an army boss or a senior minister I would assume that a  Ouattara government would look for my prosecution. Even if Ouattara wants to strike a deal, again it’s not clear how he credibly commits.

I haven’t seen any discussion of the other players who will need protection or assurances. For all the press in Cote d’Ivoire, the political reporting is surprisingly shallow. Outsiders tend to over-personalize African politics, but nations are not run, or elections stolen, or results suppressed by individuals.

“If we stop paying the military surely they will join the opposition” is about as good as the analysis gets. This would be recognized for what it is–an absurd oversimplification–if they were writing about a similar dispute in the US or France.

Thoughts from readers?