IVORY COAST: A MAD MAN’S PUBLIC DANCE DOES NOT EXCITE HIS RELATIVES.
Heads of states from the 15 West African-country regional bloc, The Economic Community of West African States issued what it called an immutable demand from Abuja, Nigeria during the week, calling on the erstwhile Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo to make a peaceful exit from power. ECOWAS is also threatening the use of ‘legitimate force’ to achieve the goals of the Ivorian people.Laurent Gbagbo came to power in 2000 after a competitive power tussle with coup leader, Robert Guei.In 2002, he propitiously precipitated a debilitating conflict that divided the the country into two governing regions. In the northern region, the rebels held sway while the government controlled the southern region.Before the contentious 28 November election took place, Gbagbo had either postponed or cancelled other scheduled elections in Ivory Coast.The 28 November election was held with the help and understanding among all concerned that the international community will supervise the conduct to ensure fairness and transparency.At the end of the run-off election which was largely acclaimed as free and fair by international observers, the independent electoral body stated that Laurent Gbagbo got 46 per cent of the votes cast while his opponent Alasanne Quattara secured 54 percent of the votes. In a sizzling twist of fate, Gbagbo came out within minutes of the announcement and denounced the results, alleging electoral fraud in the rebel-held northern region which serves as Quattara base. He ignited the constitutional court almost instantaneously and used it to renounce the result as declared by the electoral body and declared himself the winner. He subsequently inaugurated himself as the president of Ivory Coast while Quattara assumed legitimacy of the same post.At the moment, Ivory Coast is a country with two Presidents. Gbagbo with the support of his armed forces is occupying the presidential palace while Quattara who has been holed up in the lagoon Golf hotel by Gbagbo army is seeing himself as the rightful president. It is this political impasse that has pitched Laurent Gbagbo against the rest of the world today. The US, the European Union and the United Nations have placed travel ban on Gbagbo and his cohorts. Gbagbo's access to funds from ECOWAS regional financial institutions has also been stopped. His assets have been frozen by the international community.In recent times, incidents of electural fruad have assumed an unpalatable dimension. It happened in Kenya where a power sharing arrangement was adopted as the only solution between Mwai kibaki and Raila Odinga. In Zimbawbe, Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai co-habited under a spurious political arrangement.Obviously, Gbagbo is hoping for some sort of political alignment that will still perpetuate him in power. When measured against all known political parameter, Gbagbo has lost all political decorum. He has thrown all manner of decency, fairness, nascent dignity and sportsmanship into the dustbin. Placed against a standard universal political barometer, hardly any African country has found it possible to function under theparaphernalia of statehood The root causes of this can be traced from the days of European colonialism when borders were created without due regard to indigenous culture, traditional values and identity. Added to this, is the near lack of institutional instruments of governance. Where there exist semblance of same, it is use in most cases as instruments of manipulation and intimidation by the governing parties. There is also the penchant by most African heads of states to seat-tight in office. Gbagbo has fallen short of all the above mentioned shortcomings and has by hiscoccidian conduct, committed the lives of thousands of his country men and women into a vicious loom.In order to ensure that the culprit does not profit from the steaming rave of chaos which he created in the first place, Ivory Coast should be monitored carefully by all concerned. The International Criminal Court, the United Nations, the African Union and the ECOWAS countries should make sure that this does not turn into another Rwanda or Darfur.Most importantly, the ICC should start preparing charges against Gbagbo and some of his lieutenants including the vociferous Youth Minister, Ble Goude, who is said to be inciting violence in Ivory Coast. The world will like to see all these persons and their military henchmen in the Hague as soon as possible.A situation where Africa is irredeemably being hood-winked by the political laggards should be a thing of the past. The threat of force by ECOWAS must be followed to a realistic point before the entire continent is roped in a deadly political implosion. Every effort must be made to remove Gbagbo now. If anything, it will serve as a deterrent to other recalcitrant serving heads of states in that region. His public naked dance excites only him and his infamous followers who believe that power is all that is in life. He must be stopped by all means possible. However, Maximum effort should be made to recline the number of civiliancasualties.Chief Allen Anya AgwuEditor-in-chief