Côte d’Ivoire: The logic of the absurd?

Published on Pambazuka News, by Pierre Sané, March 10, 2011.

The worst-case scenario for Côte d’Ivoire – outside of military intervention – seems to have been ruled out, but the West’s alternative strategy for ousting Laurent Gbagbo – economic and financial sanctions – will also destroy the country, argues Pierre Sané. Is it a question of ‘imposing Alassane Ouattara at all costs’, no matter what the true outcome of the election might have been?

The worst-case scenario, outside armed intervention, having apparently been ruled out, now we see the strategy of the absurd unfurling unafraid of contradictions. We are being promised an ‘economic and financial strangulation’ of the Côte d’Ivoire: A ban on the exportation of cocoa, banks banned from ‘cooperating’ with the regime of Laurent Gbagbo, a ban on the payment of the salaries of civil servants and soldiers, a freeze on the assets of individuals and national and private companies, restrictions on travel, just so many measures whose legality is at the very least doubtful … // 

… The tenacity of the absurd!

  • Laurent Gbagbo is accused of being a usurper, and to make him leave people want to suffocate the country. But he says he possesses proof of irregularities tarnishing the balloting. Saddam Hussein said that he did not possess weapons of mass destruction. He was told to ‘prove it’, which was absurd because the burden of proof always lies with the accusers. Laurent Gbagbo says that he has proof of fraud that distorted the final verdict. He was literally told ‘we don’t give a darn’ and, the height of absurdity, people are preparing to strangle his country when it would be enough to verify whether these proofs are tangible or not.

And the flow of absurdity does not stop there.

  • A sanction is something normally imposed on a lawbreaker, but we still need to be told what law was broken. There is a simple electoral dispute and the country’s Constitutional Council came to a decision and invested Laurent Gbagbo as president. The international community, not having any authority to name a president in the Côte d’Ivoire any more than in Gabon, Alassane Ouattara is, therefore, in fact a ‘self-proclaimed’ president, having himself in vain sought investiture by the Constitutional Council, and this being the case, he has continued to violate Ivorian law for the past three months. But it is Laurent Gbagbo who is being sanctioned! And what is more, it is he who would be removed from office by accepting a vote recount since he is already the president invested by the highest jurisdictional body there is!

How about that! We are definitely witnessing a veritable unleashing of absurdities in the Côte d’Ivoire.

All this absurdity exasperates me and leaves me perplexed.

  • What people are conveniently forgetting is that half of the electorate voted for Laurent Gbagbo. And who knows what the electorate of the Democratic Party of the Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) would do, heated up as it is by the discovery of the reality of the Rally of the Republic (RDR)-rebel faction, if the elections were to be held again today. All the more since each time the political leader of the rebels opens his mouth, Alassane Ouattara loses credibility. Doesn’t he realise that African heads of state are ‘allergic’ to rebels? I furthermore defy the international community to require that new elections be held between Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, so as to finally settle the electoral dispute and put an end to this ‘festival of the absurd’!
  • Unless there was a deliberate intent to lead the country into war, civil war this time, in order to justify outside intervention! In that case, what appears absurd today will be logical and rational tomorrow.

Pathetic tale of brazenness and myopia!

  • In the meantime, it is obvious that what is being played out in the Côte d’Ivoire today is of prime importance for the future of our children in Africa and therefore raises questions for all of us. It is up to us to discover how to respond to this challenge at the opening of the second 50 years of the independence of our countries. (full long text).

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