Sunday, January 23, 2011

L'Abidjanaise, Part 7

First of all, I was embarassed to discover that I had not already linked in the sidebar the Center for Strategic and International Studies under the category of News and Analysis. That has been fixed. :) I also now link to their flagship publication, The Washington Quarterly.

CSIS interviewed internationally-recognized President-elect Ouattara via teleconference a little over a week ago; here is the vid:

In the interview, Ouattara addresses a matter I mentioned in Part 6, namely that the Constitutional Council did not officially validate the election results offered by the Independent Electoral Commission. As Ouattara points out, the Constitutional Council may either validate those results or call for new elections within 45 days. Ouattara then claims the Council did not call for new elections, for fear that instead of winning by 54%, Ouattara would win by 70%.

Of course, I think the allegations of violence and election-rigging in areas subject to control of Ouattara's rebel forces need serious investigation, as well as the allegations of violence and intimidation on the part of forces loyal to Gbagbo.

But, towards the end of the interview, we get to an interesting topic:

PRESIDENT OUATTARA: Yes. Well, on communication, we have been able to set up a radio at the Golf Hotel, thanks to the support of the many friends and companies, and that radio crosses most of the country. And so we broadcast up to 24 hours a day. That has been – it started about three weeks ago, and that has been quite useful in relaying my messages. And we're working to set up a television. I hope within a week or 10 days we will have also a television at the Golf Hotel.

Of course, we're doing all this but we do work for our stay to be as short as possible at the Golf Hotel. As I said, the benchmark for us –

MS. COOKE: I imagine, yes.

PRESIDENT OUATTARA: – is the end of January.

Now, in terms of the messages, the problem is RTI – which is national television – is really a hate television being broadcast by Mr. Gbagbo, and it insults all those who are not with them; it insults the foreigners in Côte d'Ivoire; it insults all the people from countries outside of Côte d'Ivoire that do not support them, which is almost the world. They insult, of course, daily, France and the United States and so forth and so on.

And so that hate television really is a major problem, and we believe that the United Nations should have authority to stop the broadcasting of a television like that because it's really feeding hate to people, especially to a youth.

This message is echoed in the international community, though with qualifications. From COTE D'IVOIRE: Domestic Media Raise the Stakes, January 20, 2011:

"I think that for the last two months the national television has from time to time incited violence and hatred. The same applies to the rebels' television in the north," he added.

Tensions exacerbated

"This problem is very serious for national cohesion and we condemn it. Gbagbo's camp's control of the television is dangerous".

N'Gouan is convinced that the inflammatory approach is exacerbating tensions. "Much of the media is filled with mistrust, hatred, radicalism," N'Gouan said. "This hatred doesn't lead to democracy. It paves the way for violence".

Notre Voie's editor-in-chief César Etou disagreed, telling IRIN that "the conflict is taking place more in the press than on the ground."

"I don't believe it is the Ivoirian press that is feeding violence. Most of the press has been discredited. The population does not systematically follow the orders of the press," he said, adding that the press had "not played a role in inciting violence against ONUCI".

Notice that the report indicates it is more a matter of talk, as the media's credibility is questioned; there does not seem to be a direct cause-and-effect link between Gbagbo government broadcasts and the violence. Consequently, it seems more of a question of Ouattara just wanting to shut his opponent up.

Notice also, in the very first paragraph, accusations were also leveled against Ouattara's rebel television in the north.

From UN has 'concrete intelligence' of ex-Ivorian president's incitement to violence, January 14, 2011:

"The facts on the ground are indisputable. Cote d'Ivoire has a legitimately elected president – Alassane Ouattara. The previous incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, must stand aside," Mr. Ban reiterated today both at the news conference and in an earlier speech to the 192-member General Assembly, as he outlined the UN's priorities for 2011.

He stressed his deep concern at the growing number of violent incidents targeting civilians and the nearly 9,000-strong UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), which has been supporting efforts over the past seven years to reunify a country split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north.

The facts are not indisputable. In violation of the previous cease-fire agreement that ended the civil war, rebel forces in the north failed to disarm. In areas under their control, election irregularities were reported, including murder and intimidation of voters, including problems with voting machines, and including more votes being tallied than there were registered voters.

In the face of this, UN insistence that the situation is indisputable could naturally cause frustration on the part of Ivorians, who may see their electoral process being hijacked by an international cartel intent on installing a man who at one time admitted he was not qualified for the presidency under Ivorian law.

This frustration might easily lead to violence against Ouattara supporters and their international backers.

For some background to this, we consider excerpts from COTE D'IVOIRE: Fresh violence in Abidjan, civilians on the move in the west, January 13, 2011:

ABIDJAN, 13 January 2011 (IRIN) - Two days of bloody clashes in Abidjan, leaving at least nine dead, have prompted fears of renewed post-electoral violence in Côte d'Ivoire's biggest city as the political stalemate entered its seventh week. Disputed electoral results have left both incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, and his challenger Alassane Ouattara claiming victory in November's presidential run-off.


A police source who requested anonymity dismissed allegations of heavy-handedness on the part of the police. "All I will say is - four of my colleagues were killed yesterday. But the population keep saying they're not armed," he said.

The district of Abobo is in the northernmost part of Abidjan. With a population of over 1.5 million, it is sometime called "Quartier Little Africa" because of its diversity and has provided an important support base for Ouattara. There were reports of a heavy security presence in and around Abobo on 16 December after Ouattara supporters had mobilized to march on the state broadcasting headquarters.

I think this UN report constitutes credible evidence to suspect that Ouattara's supporters may be starting or inciting violence themselves.

Allegations of abuse of Ouattara supporters at the hands of government forces loyal to Gbagbo have some supporting documentation; from Côte d'Ivoire: Torture scenes in the most populated prison posted January 7, 2011:

A video is currently creating a stir among the Ivorian online community. It shows militaries beating up prisoners in the "Maison d'Arrêt et de Correction" prison (MACA). According to the person who posted the video, the prisoners are Alassane Ouattara's partisans. Since the beginning of the political crisis in Ivory Coast, dozens of people have been arrested in Abidjan for their political opinion, and jailed at the MACA.

Such treatment of captives is wrong. I am against this, the same way I am against mistreatment and torture (waterboarding was defined by US prosecutors as torture in the wake of World War II) of accused terrorists.

Still, I wonder what prompts Ivorian personnel to treat captives this way. Might it be that these captives had been some of the "unarmed" Ouattara supporters responsible for killing security forces personnel?

Or, might this vid just be some kind of fake?


  1. Thanks for the article.
    I think that teh institutions of the Ivory Coast should have been respected in all the matter and we would not have to talk about ECOWAS intervention in Ivory Coast.
    By that I simply mean that if the COnsititional Court of Ivory Coast says it's Gbagbo, then Gbagbo it should be.

  2. I agree.

    What is obviously going on is that international bankers want to install their own guy in charge of Ivory Coast. And, their guy, by his own admission, is not even eligible.

    If Ouattara disagrees with the ruling by the Constitutional Courty, they can fight it. They have means of legal and political recourse, and if they are not happy with that, Ouattara's people never disarmed like they should have, so they can fight it militarily.

    I'm guessing Ouattara knows he can't prevail politically, so his people rigged the election in areas under their control, and Ouattara knows he can't prevail militarily, so they need the charade of a rigged election to justify international intervention.

    They are fighting over something more than cocoa beans, coffee, or the little bit of oil, diamonds and gold that is there - and, it's something important to the bankers.