Chris Blattman

Hoisted from comments: Cote d’Ivoire insights

The Cote d’Ivoire open thread drew in excellent comments. Some highlights:

From Joseph Lake and Random African, a rightful pointer to Jeune Afrique (tweeting at @Jeune_Afrique) for deeper reporting on the Françafrique.

Tom Cushman reminds us that other African regimes are watching very closely what transpires, especially Madagascar.

I agree. World, take heed: what Ouattara, ECOWAS and the West do will have ramifications for every election to pass in the next few years (including the shambles that could be the upcoming Sudanese and Nigerian polls).

Meanwhile, recall that I expressed surprise that no one seemed to take Gbagbo’s concerns of northern fraud seriously. From Rebecca Sargent:

While it is no surprise that Ouattara had heavy support there and would have no doubt won a majority in that region; the real issue is that the numbers don’t add up. In some areas there are more voters than population; the number of registered voters far exceeds those who were officially recognized as registered voters by the UN tally. Also, in many of those areas it was next to impossible for anyone (even if less than 30%) voting for Gbagbo to vote. Many voting booths were said to have been not confidential, and intimidation was rampant. It appears fraud and intimidation ran deep from BOTH sides.

We can also not forget that EVERY single monitor in the country cited irregularities, fraud and intimidation; yet there was no call for investigation in the slightest. They simply jumped on the bandwagon of unconditionally supporting Ouattara. Everyone mentioned how the Constitutional Council is pro-Gbagbo, but neglected to mention how the Electoral Commission that they have followed blindly is clearly pro-Ouattara. The real story is lost behind mounds of propaganda at this point.

My sense is that Ouattara is probably a good man and the rightful President, but the press would do well to remember there are no angels in politics. (Remember the love fests for Kabila and Kagame?)

Also, zealous supporters commit nasty acts for even the best regimes. Check out my co-author’s reports of intimidation of southerners by northern troops–something the press has yet to investigate (perhaps because so few have left Abidjan?).

Moving on, if the split in Sudan goes well (possible, but don’t hold your breath), Don Cox suggests a similar solution for Cote d’Ivoire:

The best long run solution would be to split the country into two – a northern, Muslim half and a southern half.

I think the India/Pakistan and Ethiopia/Eritrea suggest these splits are not a fasttrack to peace (though Temaharay reminds us that the Ethiopia/Eritrea divide is not a religious one).

Here the responses were especially thoughtful. From Laura:

the two halves are very intermingled, especially the number of Northerners in the South. Cutting the North off from the sea would also be an economic disaster – unlike South Sudan, which can at least get stuff in via Kenya-Uganda, Northern CDI would have no import-export routes except through Southern CDI. When I lived there, there was a lot of fear of another Biafra if this was tried – I don’t see any reason why this would be different if the same thing was tried now.

From Rebecca Sargent:

The country has been effectively split already for many years, with separate running of things in the north and south. If this split were to become “official”, it would mean that the north would now become a landlocked country full of resources–ensuring the economic disparity in this region is even more solidified and corruption leaks out the sides.

You wouldn’t have two peaceful regions, you’d have two countries at war and tons of refugees in the middle. Nearly half the country is foreigners from neighbouring African nations. If the country were to split these people’s lives would be at stake.

Depressing me further, Jeff suggests that Outtara’s alliance with Bedie (a southern politician leading supporters of the former regime) might not help solve the political crisis as much as we would hope. Read his full comment here.

Meanwhile, an offline comment from a UNHCR colleague: there are suspicions that many of the Ivoirian refugees registered in Liberia are actually Liberians who, in the local parlance, “know refugee business”–how to work the system. Otherwise, why aren’t there more refugees crossing into Guinea or Ghana, and why are all the refugees appearing near the UNHCR border office rather than more evenly distributed. This is all speculation and hearsay, but worth investigating.

Finally, there is musch talk of an ECOWAS military intervention. Rebecca gives some of the most chilling but possibly most prescient warnings:

an intervention would result in massive slaughter and violence in the street, to even genocidal levels. If ECOWAS or another international party were to intervene militarily, THIS is when you would have wholesale slaughter of Jula in the south, along with all other foreigners. You would effectively see machete slaughter all over the streets. You can’t forget that Gbagbo has a lot of supporters who are angry and have extreme hatred for all things French, UN and foreign messing with their country.

Check out her blog for more.

Interventionists take heed: ECOWAS should not expect garlands of flowers for foreign troops, especially in Gbagbo’s strongholds (including Abidjan).

Comments? I would be very interested to hear from Ivoirians in the audience.

(Postscript: The idea of open threads was Brett Keller’s–from my feedback bleg–and I plan to keep it up. Please keep the suggestions coming.)

24 Responses

  1. nice post friend , Thank you for sharing with us, and we sincerely hope you will continue to update or post other articles

  2. Well, according to Ouattara lately, there have been such strikes in the past, and this is what he is calling on. Personally, as I have stated above, I have little belief of any current military force being able to enact such a precision strike, “superior” or not.

    I disagree with you about the arms trade dealers being mostly out of commission at this point. Many have been bolstered, but there are always more to be found– as history has proven.

    Foreign governments did advise their citizens to leave, but I have decided to ignore this call and stay put.

  3. Rebecca, where and when in history have “superior” military forces carried out a “decapitation” strike such as the one you talk about? In Iraq? Did anyone take Saddam Hussein out in “as quick a manner as possible?” Bin Laden? Farah Aideed in Somalia? Where? Removing cancers like Gbagbo will always be messy projects. He will go, some way/some how, before 2011 is over. The fact that the United States government arrested an Ivorien military official who was in the United States to buy weapons just before the elections last year is significant. Viktor Bout is out of commission and the Iranians will think twice about offering arms after the recent debacle in Nigerian ports. Dos Santos in Angola knows when to steer clear off trouble nowadays. In a word, most of the rogue sources of the arms trade misery in Africa are out of commission at this point. My only lingering worry are arms dealers in Spain who are yet to show their hand. Gbagbo was sure he was going to get the weapons from other sources when much attention was not being paid to him not now when the whole world is watching. By the way, i thought all foreign governments advised their citizens to leave Cote D’Ivoire?

  4. @Liberian I certainly hope not! What I meant by “decapitation” strike, was one that aimed solely at removing Gbagbo in as quick a manner as possible, without a full out invasion. Sadly, there is no precision in warfare, and there are no ECOWAS troops trained or equipped for such a mission– so I don’t see it happening quite that smoothly, if they do decide to intervene at all.

  5. I find it fascinating that every other analyst and Africa expert has already decided that military intervention will end in disaster. The Ivorian army was weak when Gbagbo came to power — it literally took the rebels two days to seize the north. After that, he chose to rely on French troops, Liberian mercenaries and unemployed youth to stay in power, which goes some way to show that the Ivorian security forces are not known for their courage on the battlefield. Add an arms embargo, and the wealth that high-ranking officers have been able to accumulate under Gbagbo’s regime — the army is not only poorly equipped, but many of its senior staff probably prefer to protect their villa’s than fight off an intervention force. Ivorians don’t join the army to fight, but to have a job. Certainly, Gbagbo is protected by a relatively small group of heavily armed men. And certainly, the police is responsible for killing at least 200 opposition supporters. Faced with a real army, however, they might decide to leave the sinking ship. Many Ivorians are wondering why the intervention force is not already here — they’d like to know when the international community is going to end this ridiculous impasse.

  6. Thanks for the clarification Rebecca although i did not say you were an American. A precision “decapitation” strike (whatever that is) is certainly possible although that won’t be necessary because Gbagbo is going to go without force. Most African leaders tend to know when the writing is on the wall and Gbagbo certainly knows this by now. Those African leaders that have clung on to power in the past have done so with tacit support from western patrons but Gbagbo has none as things stand at the moment. Even the well-paid lobbyists he hired in Washington D.C. appear to have failed in securing his regime any allies in the west. Hopefully, Cadbury’s and Nestle won’t succeed were those lobbyists (hired goons of “uncivilized” Africans -imagine that!) have failed. The other big multinationals know Ouattara is their man, given his past dealings, so all manipulative interference, in this instance, is against the incumbent. The model’s prediction = Gbagbo leaving. By the way Rebecca, is your concept of a “precision ‘decapitation’ strike” the same as the “shock and awe” strategy of the invasion of Iraq? Other posters here have also dismissed potential intervention forces as “ill-equipped African forces” etc. Is there any precision in warfare? War (especially contemporary warfare) is always a messy thing…lesson learned in Iraq…all the more reason why the community of nations should avoid it.

  7. Just as a side note Liberian, I do tend to think that if an international intervention were capable of a precision “decapitation” strike, the population would go on “with barely a whimper” because they merely want to return to their jobs and regular life. However, I doubt a strike of this type would be possible.

  8. LiberiaMonrovia– Just to clarify, I’m not American– but I understand your point. I did have concerns and voiced them loudly however over several American elections. I tend to think many of the “western” countries are screwed up worse than anywhere and have written extensively on this in the past.

    The question asked the respondents what they saw as an outcome of international intervention– did they see it as a positive or negative and what they would see as changing should an intervention take place. I don’t think Africans are “always in the mood for a fight”, but when a stolen election happens and the country is on threat of civil war– people tend to respond in a more aggressive manner. George W. Bush’s 2000 election would be a prime example of that as well, for any surveys of the population at that time revealed incredibly angry sentiment among respondents.

  9. Rebecca’s posts here smirk of the same old, tired expressions of “Africans always in a mood for a fight.” For example, “…but I also know that from surveys I have taken— there are a large percentage (both Bete and other ethnicities) who have expressed some pretty aggressive stances to me about “being prepared to fight them off” should intervention happen, even among those who have no particular love for Gbagbo.” Rebecca, did all the respondents in your survey declare a desire to “fight them off” or did you put those words in their mouths? In another post, Rebecca also says (in reference to the close election result in favor of Ouattara that “…he won with just slightly over half of the votes. That makes nearly half the country who didn’t want him in power. It is a country divided, not the entire Ivorian people desperately wanting a “dictator” removed and standing behind Ouattara.” If close elections results are a cause for division, then many Western countries should be in smoldering ruins by now. I wonder if Rebecca expressed the same concerns over Bill Clinton’s electoral victory of 1996 or George Bush’s electoral victory of 2000. Oh, but wait a minute…Americans are “civilized” people right? And Ivorians (Africans) are not. Who ever told you they were ready to fight merely blew hot air to a gullible westerner eager to believe that all Africans do is fight. Sorry. If Gbagbo were to be removed, he will go with barely a whimper…and to respond to another portion of these posts, forget the focus on Nigeria as an intervention force…think Burkina Faso.

  10. “The point is that a process was put in place for carrying out this election.” Yes, exactly. And this wasn’t followed. That’s my whole point.

    I have no complaint about the Carter Centre. They called for an investigation, as they should have. I do think that the UN made a wrong move here by not following their guidelines for the situation, absolutely. I wouldn’t say “corrupted”, but if you want to use that term, you are free to.

    I have no die-hard Gbagbo loyalist friends, but you are free to think as you like and try to personalize the issue on me and my motives if you like– but I have no interest in responding to the personalization any further.

  11. Chris, was it also not stated in those same paragraphs from the Carter Centre that these irregularities should be investigated? I tend to think personally that Gbagbo probably lost the elections, even if they were unfair and unfree, but the international community would not have lost soo much credibility and created as much doubt had they taken the time to follow their own guidelines and investigated. That was a poor move for diplomacy.

    Of course the leaders of the world all run on their own self-interest. Why have they made no move in Egypt? Why have they made no move in Kenya? All the other stolen elections in recent years and months? They care about democracy when it suits them. They do what’s best for them politically, what’s best for their own people, what’s best for their economy. That’s what they are paid for.

    Gbagbo may have some French connections but he is certainly not well loved within the wider French community for killing 9 French forces and several other extremely bad moves. Also, since that time in 2004, Gbagbo has developed some other friends in the east– that are severely problematic for the west.

    1. The point is not who you or I or anyone else thinks is the real winner of the elections. The point is that a process was put in place for carrying out this election. Every detail from voter registration to poll monitoring to vote counting to announcing the results was discussed, argued, and negotiated ad nauseum among all the stakeholders over the course of many years. When this process finally ran its course, one party (Gbagbo) refused to acknowledge the outcome, trashed the process, and literally tore up the results of all those many years of work finding imperfect, painful, ugly compromises to conduct this election in the least awful way possible.

      You’re reluctant to say explicitly that the monitors and the Carter Center were corrupted, but that’s clearly what you’re insinuating. You’re saying they made a determination about the election being legitimate that they should not have made, and that they did so because of the sympathy the international community has for Ouattara over Gbagbo. You’re suggesting they acted as partisans and not honest brokers. This is all meant to bolster your central assertion that “the international community [has] lost so much credibility and created . . . doubt” about the outcome of this election. You’re free to make that argument if you choose, but back here on Planet Earth the only people for whom this election has engendered a loss of credibility for the “international community” are the profiteering charlatans like Lanny Davis and your die-hard Gbagbo loyalist friends in Abidjan.

  12. I have charged no such thing Eric. I do however think that monitors that can reasonably only view less than 10% of the vote (and in the Carter Centre’s case– significantly less than that) AND have cited within that tiny percentage instances of intimidation, irregularities and fraud, can hardly really call a “fair and free” election. The Carter Centre did no such thing, but rather called upon investigation in their reports. The UN guidelines itself called upon investigation in that situation, but they ignored their own guidelines– for whatever reason. These things need to be questioned.

    Really, France has no particular affection for Ouattara? The EU has no interest in the country that Gbagbo being in charge would upset? These countries and international bodies are all acting out of the pureness of their feelings towards the Ivorian people and love of democracy? Come on. They are acting out of self-interest, as is always the case. If they cared about democracy– they would have been in Burkina, Egypt, etc. If they cared about human rights abuses being committed by governments, there are tons of places they should be intervening– but ignore. It’s always about self-interest in these cases– how can it benefit or harm our country/leaders/resources.

    There HAS been violence committed by both parties. There has been voting irregularities committed by both parties. I also never claimed both sides were equally culpable, but rather suggested that we should not so quickly sanctify one side as flawless, though I have read essentially that in the majority of reports. To do so, is merely reading from the Ouattara book of propaganda. Everything is mired behind propaganda at the moment and instead of being so quick to charge the “right” and “wrong” of the situation, we should look at it all with a very critical eye.

    1. Rebecca,
      From the Carter Center election report you like to refer to and your insistence of MASSIVE fraud in the north…
      “….In the north and central parts of the country, tensions were less evident due to the relative homogeneity of the population. Nevertheless, independent observers remarked upon the hostile comments made by representatives and supporters of different political parties towards their opponents….”

      “…Serious election crimes were committed, including the destruction of election materials, voter intimidation, and ballot box theft. While the gravity of these incidents should not be overlooked, The Carter Center cautions against a rush to judgment regarding the overall credibility of the election…..”

      As for France/EU/USA/Africa/World, it is business as usual be it Gbagbo or Ouattara at the helm. Was it not Gbagbo who awarded Total-France with an oil-block a month back through his friend Pierre Fakhoury? If you were also here in 2004 as you claim, you will also not fail to remember that it was France that kept the peace here and kept Gbagbo in power. You are very wrong in trying to suggest that the whole world is acting in “self interest” when trying to uphold democracy in Cote d’Ivoire.

      1. Baba, I have never suggested that Gbagbo’s people didn’t perpetrate violence and fraud in the elections, but rather called upon investigation (as the UN guidelines call for) instead of a rush to judgment. I do find it interesting though that this report commends the work of local monitors from civil society groups, yet so obviously ignored their reports in the formulation of this final response.

      2. Rebecca, There was nothing to investigate. All the complaints that Gbagbo’s clan had put to table were duly considered and the votes in those areas in question were already cancelled completely. The result after all the complaints were lodged was 54% to Ouattara and 46% to Gbagbo. That is the truth and you know it.

        The EU commends the work of the local monitors and civil societies because the EU funded every single penny of their work. It came as far as the EU had to remind them that they had to make themselves visible as they would not be able to justify the payments to them ( and please lets not begin to say they were biased and not credible in this case). I hope you are aware that the people who spoke out and produced some funny reports on behalf of the civil societies were unimportant LMP supporters without the consent of the leadership of societies as a whole? Did you ever hear the Chairman of CSCI, Patrick N’gouan or the official spokesperson of the civil societies say something? No. They have always been honest and neutral. You like to quote, “paid reports” such as that of the head of the AU, Koffigoh who was quickly dismissed by the AU. See: None of the reports you ever pointed out to were ever official ECOWAS/AU or African civil society reports. None.

  13. I have read Rebecca’s comments here and elsewhere with great interest, and while I appreciate the perspective she brings to these discussions, it seems to me that she fails to follow her own arguments to their logical conclusion. What she is charging, essentially, is corruption on the part of the Carter Center and the UN monitors who called the election for Mr. Ouattara.

    Rebecca tends to steer these arguments in a despairing, “pox on both your houses” direction: voting irregularities on both sides, violence committed by both sides, Ouattara’s not the saint he’s been made out to be, etc. The problem with this line of argument is that she’s largely refuting straw men. Nobody is arguing this was a perfect election (is there such a thing?). The responses of ECOWAS, the AU, the EU, France, and the US have not been based on any particular affection for Mr. Ouattara, but on the unambiguous verdict of the CEI and Gbagbo’s aggressive effort to suppress the official CEI result until after the expiration of its mandate.

    Gbagbo’s strategy since 2002 has been to use every tool at his disposal to slow-walk and delegitimize every attempt to hold fair national elections–it’s always been obvious that he has little chance of prevailing in any such election. When Rebecca plays armchair electoral monitor and declares the whole process irredeemable and both sides equally culpable, she may as well be reading from Gbagbo’s book of propaganda.

  14. It’s possible for both sides to be correct here.

    With a large AU or UN presence, no Ivoirian group might dare to incite massive violence. But there will be a period–perhaps short, but possibly quite long–where a peacekeeping force (if you can call an invading force that) would be mobilized. Since few countries seem enthusiastic about an invasion, there may be political delays and uncertainties as well as logistical delays.

    It’s this uncertain middle space where anything could happen.

    In Rwanda, anticipation of the RPF invasion helped prompt the genocide as a “first-strike” measure. The old battle hands and the formal war theorists will all tell you the same thing: this is a perfectly sensible military move, however horrific. Smart Ivoirian politicians on both sides will look carefully at Kenya (and the current ICC prosecutions) and think carefully about how to keep their hands just clean enough, while mobs or gangs or death squads do the dirty work.

    Note: it need not even be planned. Ethnic riots are often preceded by rumors of existential threats and affronts. Mutual fear of a first strike by the other group may be enough to set something off on rumor rather than reality.

    I’m not saying this is going to happen (what do I know about Cote d’Ivoire?). I’m suggesting that outside actions may raise the risk.

    So, among the very many difficult choices and considerations that any invading force has to consider, they may want to put this near the top of the list: do not dilly dally. Do not create space for uncertainty and worry and rumor.

  15. So the Forces Nouvelles haven’t intimidated or killed anyone in the north of the country Pauline?

    I agree with you that very few Ivorians want war, but I also know that from surveys I have taken– there are a large percentage (both Bete and other ethnicities) who have expressed some pretty aggressive stances to me about “being prepared to fight them off” should intervention happen, even among those who have no particular love for Gbagbo.

    Do you honestly believe the security forces would be easily reined in by intervention? Look at previous examples where this type of thing has been tried. Intervention has not had a lot of positive examples of making positive peace.

    Martin, I tend to think that an intervention will lead to the FN attacking anyway. As you say, they are decentralized and hard to control, and that would be a prime chance for them to try to take over. If that happens, I think you would have tremendous amounts of violence that would be unavoidable, even to those who don’t want war. The war would be brought into the heart of Abidjan, where the majority of the population lives.

    All the “solutions” at the moment are extremely problematic. Offering Gbagbo exile essentially lets him off the hook for his part in any violence– besides which, I doubt he’d take it. If he stays in power, there will no doubt be more political killings until he retains enough control to stay indefinitely. African forces coming in will create instability in the region, and as I said, probably lead to full-scale attack being FN and Gbagbo supporters. Same happens in international intervention. Dialogue and power-sharing is extremely unlikely at this point, and a rather unwelcome approach to power-hungry individuals. It’s hard to really see an entirely positive outcome from this. No matter what happens, there will be many upset, victimized and marginalized people.

    It appears to me on the streets and talking to people that many have already essentially “move(d) on with their lives”. They just want to get back to work, eat, have a few drinks at night and live in peace. I know many are also experiencing violence though, which is really quite sad.

  16. “An intervention would result in massive slaughter and violence in the street, to even genocidal levels. If ECOWAS or another international party were to intervene militarily, THIS is when you would have wholesale slaughter of Jula in the south, along with all other foreigners.”

    Rebecca does not seem to know that the Bete, generally considered the most aggressive tribe in Ivory Coast, are a minority. So far, the people with blood on their hands are foreign militias and those within the security forces who are staunchly pro-Gbagbo. Very few Ivorians want war, and even less people are prepared to become involved in committing genocide. Her talking of wholesale slaughter is just plain ridiculous. The security forces must be reined in. When that’s done — and military intervention is be the fastest way to do it — I bet you that most people will move on with their lives.

  17. Rebecca, you write that Outtara and Gbagbo have blood on their hands. I’m with you on Gbagbo, and for Outtara I assume you hold him responsible for abuses committed by rebel forces.

    I think it is plausible that Ouattara has to some extent contributed to financing the rebels. However, the rebels have very decentralised structure many warlordish commanders ruling their own area and sometimes even fighting each other. I don’t think Outtara (or Soro) have even close to the same control of the rebels as Gbagbo has over the security forces committing very serious human rights violations in the south.

    Also, if you were Ouattara during these presidential elections, what would you do? Their might be stuff I’m not aware of, but to me, it looks like he is doing what any democrat would do, ie, stand firm on being the rightfully elected president, but avoid any calls for violence, call for peaceful protests and general strikes, and maybe most importantly asking the rebels not to attack the south. Ouattara probably played a part in the withdrawal of rebel forces after their attack on the 16th – that episode shows a bit how difficult the rebels are to control.

    As for a possible ECOWAS intervention, I think we disagree here, but my take is an intervention would be outcome with least loss of lives on all sides. If there is no intervention I think the rebels will attack sooner or later, and anyway just having Gbagbo in power means that a lot of people will killed by his militia and security forces. I think Gbagbo ca find other excuses than an ECOWAS intervention to start killings.

  18. Regarding the accuracy of the election result and reports of fraud in the north:

    I totally agree that there was fraud and irregularities on both sides. And also vote buying on grand scale on both sides, which I think is (unfortunately) pretty much standard practice in democracies where the majority is very poor. (I blogged about that here:

    Of the total 4.7 million voters in the second round only just above 700,000 live in the rebel controlled (CNO) areas (Bafing + Savanes + Denguele + Valle du Bandama + Worodougou + parts of 18 Montagnes and Zanzan).

    In the government controlled south, even if they wanted too, the rebels or Ouattara would not be able to commit electoral fraud or intimidations on any significant scale, due to Gbagbo’s control of army, security forces and state apparatus. When Choi spoke to the UN to justify the results he mentioned that there were more irregularities and problems in the government controlled west than in the rebel controlled north. This seems in line with reports from the many electoral observers in place in the Ivory Coast.

    In the rebel controlled north a great majority of the population are from ethnic groups close to Ouattara (Dioula, Senufo etc). Ivory Coast recently had a civil war fought to a great extent along ethnic lines, and after such a war people even in wealthier countries tend to vote according to ethnicity to a high degree. A northern dioula voting for Gbagbo is I’d say akin to a Bosnian muslim voting for Milosevic in an imaginary united Yugoslavia where the UN has stepped in and stopped the civil war.

    So putting all this together, and adding that Gbagbo had much more resources for campaigning and vote buying than Ouattara, I think it looks likely that Gbagbo greatly increased his vote tally in the south by fraud, intimidation and vote buying (especially the latter), whereas the rebels probably increased Ouattara’s tally a bit in the north, but the scope to increase it in the north is limited.

    I think that in a fair election with no vote buying, no fear, and no candidate having the state or rebels behind him, you’d see a lower turnout and Gbagbo would get nowhere near the 46% he got in the second round. Ethnic groups that tend to naturally vote Gbagbo (Bété, Agni etc) form only about 15% of the population.

  19. “Also, zealous supporters commit nasty acts for even the best regimes. Check out my co-author’s reports of intimidation of southerners by northern troops—something the press has yet to investigate (perhaps because so few have left Abidjan?).”

    I think this is an important point that is being almost entirely missed by international reports. There is much violence happening by both parties at the moment. Unfortunately too, both state and opposition newspapers have had increasingly violent rhetoric that is only escalating things further. Gbagbo has put the country in a difficult situation, but Ouattara is only ensuring by his words and his action that a peaceful solution can not be found here. There is great amounts of blood on BOTH their hands at the moment.

    I think another point also needs to be said here. If Ouattara were to somehow get into power, there would be extreme amounts of violence among the southern population, where there is a great hatred for the man. Many see him as an outsider (non-Ivorian– whether true or not), and someone who has bled the public coffers into his own pocket and siphoned away much-needed jobs through privatization schemes that sold national assets to foreigner interests during his last time as Prime Minister. If Gbagbo stays in power, many Julas and northerners will be unhappy; but if Ouattara comes in, many Bete and southerners will be unhappy. We must remember, that even if Ouattara did win the vote (and at this point, the results are lost and almost irrelevant as it will make little difference to the situation), he won with just slightly over half of the votes. That makes nearly half the country who didn’t want him in power. It is a country divided, not the entire Ivorian people desperately wanting a “dictator” removed and standing behind Ouattara.

    “Meanwhile, an offline comment from a UNHCR colleague: there are suspicions that many of the Ivoirian refugees registered in Liberia are actually Liberians who, in the local parlance, “know refugee business”—how to work the system. Otherwise, why aren’t there more refugees crossing into Guinea or Ghana, and why are all the refugees appearing near the UNHCR border office rather than more evenly distributed. This is all speculation and hearsay, but worth investigating.”

    Again, another point being entirely missed that I have been trying to impart since I began reading reports of refugee flows. There are around 120,000 Liberian refugees in Cote D’Ivoire, and thousands upon thousands of other West African nationals who have been refugees in the country on and off for the last decade or so. There are frequent crossing of the borders by this population, especially during any domestic problems. Based on surveys I have been taking in Abidjan, and the general situation I am witnessing within the city, it doesn’t seem as if there are that many people leaving– at least from the city.

    Thank you for trying to take a balanced approach to looking at the conflict– it is much needed at the moment. The international community needs to truly think of the consequences of their actions and words at the moment. Taking sides or plowing ahead with intervention and generalized sanctions are not the path to peace here. We must remember that the people are the ones to suffer, not the leaders. The people are already experiencing severe food insecurity due to hiked prices of food staples, extreme unemployment and intimidation. It’s time to actually listen to the Ivorian people and work with them in open dialogue instead of ignoring half the population.

    Peace to you!

Why We Fight - Book Cover
Subscribe to Blog