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article imageOp-Ed: Ivory Coast — Another turn in this battle for power

By Donna Murphy     Apr 10, 2011 in Politics
Just as many of us thought that this long and bloody war was coming to an end, we see that there is yet another twist in this Ivory Coast tale.
As we watched the incoming reports earlier in the week, it had appeared that Laurent Gbagbo was in talks negotiating his exit strategy. Now we find out that it was just another ploy to buy time. As Alain Le Roy, UN Peacekeeping Chief said, "Gbagbo's forces had used the lull on Tuesday for peace talks as a 'trick' to reinforce their positions.
Since then, forces loyal to Gbagbo have retaken ground and are edging close to where Alessane Ouattara is holed up, the UN said. The fighting is escalating, one of Alessane's spokesman said "The fighting is very close. The pro-Gbagbo forces are attacking us on all sides." Once again Gbagbo's TV station came back on, broadcasting an appeal "The regime of Laurent Gbagbo is still in place and strong mobilisation is required by the population" it said. He had also fired at the residence of the French Ambassador prompting counter strikes by French helicopters. Disputing this Toussaint Alain, an advisor to Laurent Gbagbo said,"France is just looking for a pretext to get rid of Mr Gbagbo."
Meanwhile, Alessane Ouattara, in a speech broadcast on French TV,(channel LCI) has asked the EU to ease sanctions on the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro and other entities, which they agreed to. He has also asked the central bank (BCEAO) to re-open its branches to resume its operations and enable the payment of salaries and arrears in the shortest possible time. If Outtara is to stand any chance of unifying the country, he will need to get the economy moving quickly.
Diplomatic rumours are rife that during the lull, Laurent Gbagbo had sneaked into Ghana at the weekend, where he intends to seek asylum. Ghana Government officials deny that any such request has been made. However, both of his wives, Simone and Nadia have been spotted in Ghana and he does own a large villa there The New Patriotic Party said on Friday(8, April, 2011) said it had credible information that Gbagbo had approached Ghana for asylum.
NPP Communications Director, Nana Akomea said, "This is a very good chance for us to make a difference to the Ivorian situation, we are his nearest neighbours and my understanding is that he is very keen to come to Ghana on asylum and we should quickly organize it for him."
In response, Mumni (Minister for Foreign Affairs) said, "I can tell you on authority that there has not been anything of that sort. There has been nothing like President Gbagbo has written to President Mills to request for political asylum." He did however, go on to say, "President Mills will consider it very well, any request from his good friend." (Gbagbo)
It is understood that most of the advice being given to President Mills, is that it would be more prudent to turn any such request down. Sources close to the President however, say that he owes Gbagbo for the support he allegedly got in 2007/8.
As if this country did not have enough to deal with, there are now accusations of mass atrocities committed by forces now supporting Alessane Outtara. These have been uncovered by the Guardian. The campaign group Human Rights Watch are now calling for investigations carried out by both sides during this conflict. Alessane Outtara has said steps would be taken to shed light on all crimes committed during the conflict and he would collaborate with the International organisations investigating human rights abuses, punishing those found guilty.
It is difficult to see how Alessane Ouattara is going to unify this country, when this conflict comes to an end. His perceived unity with France (who are disliked by people on both sides of this divide) and atrocities now being discovered which are being attributed to his forces. Remember that whilst no one disputes that he won the election, it was only by 5%. The other 45% voted for the incumbent Gbagbo. He (Gbagbo) stands accused of similar atrocities, so we have no innocent parties here. As far as I can see, to placate nearly half of your population, you will alienate the other half. Gbagbo is reported to still have six or seven countries in Africa who prefer him to Ouattara. Alcide Djedje (Gbagbo's Foreign Minister) explained, "There are some who do not manifest openly, but still support us."
Having said all of this, Laurent Gbagbo has not given up yet, can he yet outsmart Alessane Outtara, we must wait and see. All the while, the civilian population goes on suffering and dying. Let us hope that this is rectified sooner rather than later.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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