Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A country with Two Presidents and Two Governments

Credit: Patrick Worsnip and Timcocks
UN mission in Ivory Coast defying Gbagbo

Love for power in Africa is a big problem for democracy. Leaders should respect the choice of their people.

Ivory Coast went to the polls last November 28. Ivorians cast their votes for their new president but the first round did not produce any president for this country. This opened a second round, which generated turmoil. In fact, the incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and the opposition leader Alassane Ouattara claimed victory each. This situation has caused lots of confusion as both candidates strongly believe they have been legally elected by the population. They both were sworn in the same day but at different hours for ruling the country but Ouattara is recognized in Africa and beyond as the victor in the last November presidential runoff. And each has promulgated his own government. Thus, one country, two governments and two presidents.

In order to win, Gbabo annulled as fraudulent nearly ten percent of all votes cast, Ivory Coast’s constitutional council overturned results that showed President Gbagbo losing to former prime minister Ouattara.

Due to the above depicted situation, on December 11, the African Union (AU) met in order to see what could be done. Accordingly, it was decided that Ivory Coast be suspended following the controversial presidential elections and fraud allegations on the results. The deferral was decided after Gbagbo rejected the results that had been announced by the Independent Electoral Commission and demanded the cancellation of votes in some regions alleging fraud.

In fact, Gbabgo has looked down any calls from neighboring countries, the African Union and the United Nations, to accept the results and desist rejecting Ouattara's victory. After Gbabgo's claims, the Constitutional Council reverted the decision and said that the current president was the winner of the polls.

Following the president of Malawi and supported by the Chairman of African Union Bingu wa Mutharika, it is Ouattara who won the presidential election. For them Gbagbo should not rob the will of the people through the ballot and therefore needs to stand down to avoid another bloodshed in Africa over power but such speech seems not founded in the mind of Gbagbo.

Furthermore, the UN mission in Ivory Coast (UNOCI) announced that there is absolutely no doubt that the opposition leader won the presidential elections. Y.J. Choi, the Special Representative for the UN Secretary-General detailed the methods used to certify and ratify the polls.

International pressure and isolation are forcing Laurent Gbagbo to quit power and leave it to his rival Alassane Ouattara. This is what caused a political standoff by taking the battle for control to the streets. Gbabo is urging the UN to quit so that he can kill Ouattara.

The truth is that Ouattara has been recognized in Africa and beyond as the winner of the November presidential election. Due to this, his camp has called for a mass demonstration on 16 December, prompting warnings of a dangerous collision between the two sides.

It has been noted that people from across the country in the past days have been boarding busses headed to the economic capital Abidjan. However, there were also reports of the army, which officially backs Gbagbo, blocking some would-be demonstrators from moving south. The call was for a “peaceful march” as residents of the North believed but so far most worry violence was inevitable.

In the same vein, in the morning of 15 December, Ouattara supporters affronted the police at the place where the people from the North were gathering before heading to Abidjan, the Capital city of Ivory Coast.

However, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was deeply concerned about the ongoing stalemate in the country. For him, the situation was taking a worrying turn with unfolding events that could lead to widespread violence if no preventive measures were taken. The UN Secretary-General warned against any actions that would provoke violence, which could have unpredictable consequences, including reigniting civil war.

The context of Ivory Coast is totally different from what happened in Zimbabwe and in Kenya with their recent elections. In both countries, the parties in power cheated people’s choice but once the results were released, they were contested but two presidents were not inaugurated. And in both cases here, the opposition leader accepted to assume the function of Prime Minister. On the contrary, this is not applicable in Ivory Coast because both Gbagbo and Ouattara have been inaugurated presidents.

Gbagbo is very angry with the presence of both the UN mission and the French soldiers in Ivory Coast. For this reason his loyal soldiers have surrounded the hotel in which Ouattara and his government settle.

One may wonder what is wrong with African leaders as regards power. Instead of showing the power of love, they are showing love for power. This situation is now taking many African countries into bloodbath. They should understand that people have rights to cast their voices on whoever they hope will promote them. And their choice should be respected. But in Africa, it has been an epidemic that no incumbent president can be defeated by his opponent. Democracy in Africa is turning into ‘demoncracy’ and this is the bad example that is being shown by older presidents who never want to quit power when time for people to decide comes. Ouattara and Gbagbo should know that Ivorians are not interested in bloodshed but in sustainable development. The international community, the Regional community which Ivory Coast belongs to together with Ivorians should see the bloodless way out of this embarrassing context prevailing in the country. The UN should seriously sanction this turmoil as to hinder other presidents to do the same. If no tough sanction is taken, all the people in power will do the same as Gbagbo is doing.

A country with two presidents and two governments has never existed anywhere.

About the Writer

MUGISHO N.THEOPHILE is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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