4th December 2010
Coup d’état in Cote d’Ivoire
Jibrin Ibrahim PhD
Centre for Democracy and Development
Today, 4th December 2010, the spectre of renewed bloody conflict emerged in Cote d’Ivoire following the illegal swearing of Mr Laurent Gbagbo as President of the country. This followed the closure of the country’s borders by the army and the declaration of a curfew the night before the November 28th second round presidential elections. Gbagbo supporters have also jammed all foreign radio broadcasts to stop citizens listening to the condemnation of the Coup d’état.
The Electoral Commission had declared Alassane Quattara winner of the polls with 54.1% of the popular vote in last Sunday’s elections. During the initial public presentation of the results, a supporter of Mr Gbagbo had seized and torn the result sheets to shreds as if to announce to the whole world that they would not accept the verdict of the ballot box. Subsequently, Mr Gbagbo got his cronies in the Constitutional Council to annual Quattara’s votes before the Electoral Commission had even transmitted the tally to them and declared Gbagbo elected.
The United Nations, which closely followed the collation of the votes, has however affirmed that the Electoral Commission is right; Mr Quattara won the presidential elections. The Peace and Security Council of the African Union in a press release today has clearly “condemned the usurpation of the popular will of the people in Cote d’Ivoire.”
At the same time, ECOWAS which deployed a major Observer Team for the elections for the elections has reaffirmed its commitment “to ensure peaceful and democratic election in line with the ECOWAS Declaration on Political Principles and the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.” In addition, it very clearly “strongly condemns any attempt to usurp the popular will of the people of Côte d’Ivoire and appeals to all stakeholders to accept the results declared by the electoral commission.”
In pursuit of this objective, ECOWAS has convened the Authority of Heads of State and Government to an Extraordinary Summit in Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday, 7th December, 2010 with the sole objective of examining the situation and deciding on subsequent action on the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire in accordance with the ECOWAS relevant texts.
The Centre for Democracy and Development calls on ECOWAS under Nigeria’s presidency to act decisively:
1. In affirming the victory of Alassane Quattara as the duly elected President of Cote d’Ivoire.
2. In taking immediate steps condemning the coup d’état and suspending Cote d’Ivoire from ECOWAS until there is a return to the constitutional order.
3. To take proactive steps to immediately remove Laurent Gbagbo from power and install Alassane Quattara who the International Contact Group as well as the Ivorian Electoral Commission have declared as the duly elected president of the country.
It is important to recall that the elections in Cote d’Ivoire are part of the long and pain staking attempts to save the country from the ravages of civil war following Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to hold elections for five successive years after his last electoral mandate expired in 2005. Cote d’Ivoire is a country that was not too long ago one of the shining stars of stability and prosperity in the West African region. This history was shattered when war broke out between the between the government-controlled Southern army and the Forces Nouvelles (New Forces) controlled by the Northerners. The human carnage and heavy collateral damage associated with the conflict was unprecedented. West Africa cannot afford a return to civil war.
The coup which brought General Robert Guei to power in December 1999 erupted just before the general elections slated for 2000. General Guei who had promised to stay in power only to “sweep the house clean” took all by surprise when he indicated his interest to run in the elections. He disqualified Quattara from standing in the October 2000 elections, via a politically manipulated Supreme Court judgment, on the grounds that the latter’s mother was from Burkina Faso. The exclusion prompted Quattara’s RDR to call for a boycott of the elections. General Guei’s attempt to stop the elections in which early results indicated Gbagbo was winning led to widespread protests and violent demonstrations by Gbagbo’s FPI against him. Guei was assassinated and Gbagbo emerged as President who maintained the exclusion policy. The result was civil war. A second exclusion of Quattara in a context in which he had already won a free and fair election would definitely precipitate civil war if pro-active measures are not taken to restore the sovereignty of the Ivorian people.
Jibrin Ibrahim PhD