It has been a while since my last roundup of news and commentary on Cote d’Ivoire, and now feels like a good time to update readers on the situation. The standoff between incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and rival presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara continues, prompting attempts at international mediation and evoking intense discussion in blogs and other media.
- VOA: “Witnesses report more fighting in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital between forces loyal to incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo and supporters of his rival, Alassane Ouattara. Mr. Gbagbo’s interior ministry said at least six policemen were killed in Abidjan Wednesday. Several police vehicles were burned during heavy pre-dawn fighting…Similar clashes in Abidjan Tuesday left five people dead, including at least two police officers.”
- CNN: “Three United Nations peacekeepers were shot and injured Tuesday night by the forces of self-declared President Laurent Gbagbo, the U.N. operation in Ivory Coast said in a statement on Wednesday. The peacekeepers were returning from a patrol when they were shot, the U.N. operation said.”
- Winnipeg Free Press/AP: “The head of the army who is still backing Ivory Coast’s defeated president announced on state TV that a curfew had been imposed in an opposition neighbourhood in the capital. Chief of Staff Philippe Mangou also said that security forces now reserves the right to retaliate on any attacks against them.”
- Xinhua: “This situation of uncertainty over the top leadership has disrupted the country’s economic activities and increased the fears of many economic operators.”
- IRIN: “Thousands of Ivoirians…have abandoned their homes in the face of rising tensions in the west, particularly around the town of Duékoué, the scene of fierce inter-communal clashes earlier this month.”
- AU: “Raila Odinga, Kenya’s Prime Minister and the African Union representative on the Côte d’Ivoire crisis, is expected to meet with both sides in Abidjan on Thursday for a two-day round of talks.”
- ECOWAS: “A source was quoted by AFP as saying [former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo] explained to one of the claimants, Laurent Gbagbo who lost the elections but held on to power ‘the inevitability of the change over of power’ and ‘Africa’s determination to achieve this objective’.”
- UN: “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will send a request to the Security Council next week for between 1,000 and 2,000 additional forces for UNOCI, which currently has nearly 9,000 peacekeepers. The new “blue helmets” will fill the gap currently bridged by peacekeepers from the UN peacekeeping mission in neighbouring Liberia, who were deployed on a temporary basis for the elections.”
- China: “China supports the United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) in playing an active role in solving the Cote d’Ivoire issue, a foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday.”
- US: “The United States is working closely with the international community to achieve a peaceful resolution to the crisis, and as the talks continue we call on Gbagbo to control his supporters and military forces still loyal to him. Along with the ECOWAS and African Union nations, we have taken steps to keep pressure on Gbagbo to end the standoff and step down, including travel sanctions against him and his close supporters.”
- France: “French President Nicolas Sarkozy has led calls from Europe for Gbagbo to give way while emphasizing that France does not intend to intervene militarily.”
- Paul Collier wonders whether the Ivoirian army might force out Gbagbo. Chris Blattman adds his thoughts: “I worry about measures that create uncertainty, the possibility of rapid power shifts, and first strike advantages to any miltary group. These are the ingredients for chaos. I personally would not push an internal coup without having a well-organized peacekeeping force visibly at hand, ready to deploy.”
- Elizabeth Dickinson: “The world is fast running out of plays to run.”
- Wronging Rights: “It seems to me that there is a distinct possibility that this is a Bush v. Gore-type situation: even if Gbagbo was not the winner of the democratic elections, under Cote D’Ivoire’s constitution, he is now that country’s president for a new term. The Constitutional Council had the authority to decide the election, and they decided it in his favor. They also had the authority to administer the oath of office to the new president, and administered it to Gbagbo (so that the oath that Ouattara took is just a gesture, not a legal basis for claiming the presidency). And, even if those decisions were corrupt and improper, it is not clear that that actually makes them invalid under Ivorian law. If that is the case, should it make us re-think the international community’s universal calls for Gbagbo to step down and allow Ouattara to assume the presidency?”
What are you hearing?