Monday, July 23, 2012

Truth and Reconciliation, Part 6

We continue with our series entitled "Truth and Reconciliation". In the sidebar to the right, below the images, are the indices to my multipart series. Côte d'Ivoire has its own section, of which "Truth and Reconciliation" is the second series. I will assume a certain degree of familiarity with those posts, however this post will refer with links back to key themes in previous posts. Ideally, the reader should go through those other posts, in order, then rely on the references in this post to help put everything together.

I will examine recent reports in a roughly chronological order.

First, we look at excerpts from COTE D'IVOIRE: Former pro-Ouattara rebels still need reining in, December 30, 2011:

ABIDJAN, 30 December 2011 (IRIN) - Eight months after President Allassane Ouattara assumed office at the end of a prolonged civil conflict, peace remains fragile amid abuses and killings by former rebel fighters who once provided him support.

Ten civilians were killed and about 15 wounded this month in fighting between the former rebels, which now form part of the national army, and civilians in Vavoua, west-central Cote d'Ivoire, and in Sikensi in the south.

In a statement on 29 December, the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) called on the government to stop the violence. "UNOCI encourages the Ivorian authorities to implement the tough measures they announced and to strengthen discipline" within the Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (FRCI), UNOCI spokesman Hamadoun Touré said.

He said UNOCI remained concerned about the "numerous violations of human rights attributed to FRCI in several parts of the country which have led to the reactions by residents of the affected communities." He cited cases of arbitrary arrest and illegal detention in Abidjan, the commercial capital.

Adding to this, Ivoirian Human Rights League President René Legré said: "We note that despite the promises to ensure security, there has been no progress. People are still armed."

He said the unrestrained behaviour by FRCI soldiers was beginning to anger the public, which would defend itself.

"We fear that the day will come when people will no longer respect the army," he added.

Following the Vavoua incident, Ouattara ordered the soldiers to return to barracks but they refused.


Describing the government's response to the insecurity as "state impotence", Legré said many soldiers in villages and towns which his team had inspected appeared to be taking orders from outside the official military structure. Moreover, he quoted solders as saying that since the government was not paying them salaries, they would pay themselves by abusing the public.

In L'Abidjanaise, Part 8, we took a close look at how the forces suppporting Ouattara were becoming splintered and indisciplined. To be sure, one report quoted blamed that on strict implementation of previous peace accords by Gbagbo, as a calculated strategy to frustrate and divide the opposition. However, I pointed at reasons to suspect this warlordism was being provoked as part of someone's strategy to destabilize certain governments in the region.

It was obvious at the time the Ouattara's supporters included many local strongmen and thugs. Looking back now, I wonder if Gbagbo wasn't just using the best strategy he could against what he knew to be an internationally-manipulated coalition of criminal gangs allied against him.

In any case, it is clear now that Ouattara does not command the forces that backed him. Throughout my posts on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire, I have pointed out Ouattara's connections to the IMF, to former French President Sarkozy (see Truth and Reconciliation, Part 5), the appearance that Côte d'Ivoire is being set up to be raped by France, and the indiscipline and brutality of Ouattara's troops (see Truth and Reconciliation, Part 1).

I have also pointed out (for example, see L'Abidjanaise, Part 4) similarities to the situations elsewhere. In Serbia's Kosovo and in Libya, we have seen armed militants seek to overthrow the internationally-recognized government. The situations in Serbia, Libya and Côte d'Ivoire are different, but they have common themes, namely that the international community supported the militants, including militarily, to bring about a new government. In the Balkans, Serbia was partitioned, and its historic province of Kosovo was declared by the international community to be independent, under control of a government known for connections to transnational terrorism and organized crime. In Libya, a Pan-Africanist leader who resisted European economic domination of Africa was ousted by force. In Côte d'Ivoire, under the auspices of the UN, the French government placed a close friend of the then-President of France in power by force, and with a great deal of indiscriminate killing of Ivoirians (see Côte d'Ivoire and 2012).

Given the insecurity described above, and the fact that Ouattara's forces are involved in brutalizing civilians rather than protecting them, the UN felt it had to respond to security concerns. So, we now consider excerpts from UN expert urges continued support for Côte d'Ivoire following deadly attack, June 13, 2012:

13 June 2012 –

A United Nations independent human rights expert today urged all Ivorians and the international community to maintain their support for Côte d'Ivoire's national reconciliation in the aftermath of an attack last week which killed seven UN peacekeepers, eight civilians and one Ivorian soldier.

"This attack, through its magnitude, constitutes a major challenge for the Ivorian people and the international community," the UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Côte d'Ivoire, Doudou Diène, said in a news release.


According to preliminary reports, on Friday, 8 June, peacekeepers serving with the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) were on patrol in the proximity of Para village, near the town of Tai, located in the country's south-west near the Liberian border, when they were attacked by a group of unidentified armed elements.

The peacekeepers were deployed in the area in response to concerns about the safety of local residents.


[Mr. Diène] also called on the international community to speed up the adjustment of the country's arms embargo in order to enable the Ivorian Government to respond proportionately to threats to the security of its population, and to ensure that its security forces remain committed to upholding human rights.

How convenient! UN troops are deployed to respond to security concerns, they are attacked, and the attack is used as justification to "speed up the adjustment of the country's arms embargo" - in other words, to arm Ouattara's forces, who themselves are guilty of many of the atrocities, hoping they will provide security.

But, one thing doesn't make any sense.

From UN destroys hundreds of small arms and light weapons in Côte d'Ivoire, July 13, 2012:

13 July 2012 –

Some 600 small arms and light weapons have been wiped out in Côte d'Ivoire over the last two days by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) as part of the country's first weapon destruction exercise since the 2011 post-election crisis.


The arms were collected by UNOCI staff working in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants during ad hoc weapon collection operations across the country.


According to UNMAS, since July 2011, COMNAT-CI [National Commission of Small Arms and Light Weapons of Côte d'Ivoire] has conducted 36 ad hoc weapon collection operations across the country, with UNOCI's support, recovering 1,811 weapons and 316,600 munitions. This weaponry is collected and stocked in different military bases of UNOCI.

On the one hand, the authorities want to "speed up the adjustment of the country's arms embargo", but on the other hand, they are destroying arms.


My bet is that the people who are being disarmed are the supporters of ousted President Gbagbo, and ordinary people who just want to protect themselves.

We already established that Ouattara has little control over his own supporters, so we know they are not surrendering their weapons. But, they would probably collaborate in disarming anyone other than themselves, because that would make it easier for them to "pay themselves by abusing the public."

And, keep in mind that Ivoirians had already said back in December that the public would defend itself... this is unacceptable to foreign powers who have conspired with local warlords to steal an election and install a "president" who is ineligible under local law for the presidency.

Meanwhile, let's look at the economic situation. We examine excerpts from Ivory Coast Resumes Payments on Its Defaulted Eurobonds, June 15, 2012 (see original for links which I did not reproduce):

Ivory Coast, the world's largest cocoa producer, said it has resumed coupon payments on $2.3 billion of defaulted Eurobonds for the first time since January last year.

The country told the Central Bank of West African States, which represents Ivory Coast and a number of other former French colonies, to transfer $45 million to meet scheduled June coupon payments on June 12, Adama Kone, head of the nation's public treasury said by phone yesterday. The dollar bonds gained for a second day, jumping 1.6 percent to 72.375 cents on the dollar as of 11:23 a.m. in London, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Eurobonds due 2032 have surged 50 percent this year after the government of President Alassane Ouattara pledged to bondholders in January that the June payment would be made. The government of ousted President Laurent Gbagbo halted payments following a post-election crisis in November 2010.


Ivory Coast dollar bonds have returned 44 percent so far this year, the best performer and beating an average return of 6.5 percent, according to the JPMorgan Chase & Co. EMBI Global Index. Venezuela had the second-highest gain with a 15 percent.

As I predicted in L'Abidjanaise, Part 6, the value of holding Côte d'Ivoire's debt is zooming up relative to where it was during the crisis: an excellent financial opportunity for those who engineered this situation and thus knew how it was going to play out.

But, let's put this in some kind of context.

A confidential report (normally I provide links; this time, you'll have to get it yourself) entitled "Côte d’Ivoire: Stability Restored, Difficult Road Ahead", dated May 15, 2012, had this to say on page 4:

Medium terms prospects for the Ivorian economy should improve as political stability is established and the business environment improves. As it is the case in many other African countries, Cote d'Ivoire has a large natural resources endowment which has not been fully tapped. The country still accounts for more than 40% of the world cocoa production. Gold production has also been expanding over the past few years and reached 870 metric tons in 2011 (up from 94 MT in 2007). Oil prospects also look good, and a turnaround in production, which fell from a peak of 62,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2006 to 40,000 b/d last year, is possible. To encourage oil companies to invest in new exploration, the authorities announced their intention to introduce significant amendments and reforms to the current hydrocarbon legislation during 2012 H1.

In addition to a big slice of the world cocoa market, and significant coffee production, there is a great deal of gold and other mineral wealth at stake; in L'Abidjanaise, Part 4 we also mentioned diamonds.

But, what about oil? Côte d’Ivoire Oil Industry by Carolyn Avery, IAS Group, dated April, 2010, starts off:

Côte d'Ivoire is a modest oil producer and an important regional refiner with ambitious plans to play a more central role in West Africa's petroleum product market. The Gbabgo administration’s goal is to more than double production to 200,000 barrels per day within the next few years, and to bring a second refinery on line. Recent oil discoveries along the Gulf of Guinea may lead to a substantial reevaluation of West African, including Ivorian, reserve estimates. The discovery in 2007 of up to 1.8 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Jubilee field off the coast of Ghana has prompted Jubilee operator Tullow Oil to intensify its exploration of neighboring Côte d'Ivoire's coast, which has yet to be thoroughly surveyed1.

A "substantial reevaluation of West African, including Ivorian, reserve estimates"...

Skipping down to page 5 in "Côte d’Ivoire: Stability Restored, Difficult Road Ahead":


Political divisions during the past decade hampered tax collection in the northern region and undermined fiscal performances. Nonetheless, the authorities have been able to limit fiscal deterioration, and from 2002 to 2010 the deficit averaged 1.2% of GDP.

In other words, Ouattara's forces in the north, who were supposed to have disarmed but didn't, would not cooperate with Gbagbo's government in the south. Despite this, Gbagbo was able to keep things from spiraling out of control.

When you consider the data, though, it becomes more interesting.

What jumps out at me from these charts is that, under Gbagbo, the value of the 2032 Eurobond was going up, and external Ivoirian debt as a percent of Ivoirian GDP was going down.

Somebody just couldn't have that, could he?

I highly encourage you to read this entire article: France And The Ivory Coast-The Empire Strikes Back by Dr. Gary K. Busch, December 16, 2010. Here is an excerpt:

In summary, the colonial pact maintained the French control over the economies of the African states; it took possession of their foreign currency reserves; it controlled the strategic raw materials of the country; it stationed troops in the country with the right of free passage; it demanded that all military equipment be acquired from France; it took over the training of the police and army; it required that French businesses be allowed to maintain monopoly enterprises in key areas (water, electricity, ports, transport, energy, etc.). It is difficult to imagine what the changes were from colonial rule to today that aren’t merely cosmetic.

The civil war which broke out between the North and the South in the Ivory Coast was largely about the efforts of the Gbagbo government seeking to achieve real independence; a breakaway from the colonial dominance of the French which controlled almost every aspect of national life.

Gbagbo's history, going back decades, is one of a man looking out for the best interests of his country, seeking to help the little people, without demonizing those who were successful. His history as a statesman is that of a man who was willing to make every compromise possible in the interests of peace, without selling out the nation he represents.

The accusations of war crimes, for which Gbagbo is now detained and on trial, revolve around events during the unrest provoked by Ouattara and Ouattara's international puppetmasters as they sought to illegally seize a presidency for a man who was ineligible, so that that man, Alassane Ouattara, could open the nation up to further neocolonial exploitation by France which was, at the time, being run by Ouattara's close friend Nicolas Sarkozy.

That is the truth.

As this series continues, we will look at reconciliation.

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