Obama’s neo-imperialism in Africa and the triumph of deceit over legality in Ivory Coast By Y.A. Kebede
“Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans, and not with those who use coups, or change constitutions to stay in power. Africa does not need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.” Barack Obama’s speech to the Ghanian parliament on July 11, 2009.
Thanks to his uncanny ability to inspire the masses, Barack Hussein Obama was able, during the 2008 presidential campaign, to make people in the United states and around the world hold out a lot of hope for him. In June 2008, he described his nomination as “the moment when . . . our planet began to heal”. However, no sooner had he occupied the oval office than he disappointed all those who pinned their hopes on him. He has not delivered the change he promised in domestic and international affairs. Because of his Kenyan origin, there was a great deal of hope that Obama would work for a diplomacy of democracy in Africa. But when the Eritrean rulers of Ethiopia announced in last year’s fake elections that 99.6% of the Ethiopian people voted for them, Obama did not utter a word. Obama’s disconcerting silence on Ethiopia contrasts though sharply with his barefaced interference in the internal affairs of Ivory coast before and after the November 28, 2010 elections. More than any thing else, the Ivorian crisis has shown in no uncertain terms that Obama is bent on promoting America’s imperial interests at the expense of the political and economic independence of Africa and Africans. Obama has been humiliated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and by Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama’s low profile approach towards Iran and Israel and his arrogant policies towards Ivory Coast point to America’s decision to make for its loss of influence in Asia by transforming Africa into its 21st century neocolony. Indeed, the capture of Laurent Gbago, the leader of a sovereign country by Western and United Nation’s troops and the public acclamation of the United Nation’s banditry by Obama are harbingers of the dark times to come in Africa. It points clearly to the West’s determination to topple by all means patriotic African leaders striving to build the political and economic independence of the peoples of Africa. The unprecedented character assassination of Laurent Gbago by the unethical international media, the economic and financial strangulation of Ivory Coast by the West and the invasion and occupation of Ivory Coast by United Nations troops inscribe themselves into the West’s determination to prevent the emergence of true African statesmen. Laurent Gbagbo is not anti-Western, though. His only sin is his determination to make Ivorians the masters of their destiny. In fifty years of Africa’s formal independence from colonialism, Laurent Gbagbo was the first and the only patriotic African leader to try to build an economically and politically independent country. But building the economic independence of Ivory Coast requires necessarily dislodging the entrenched interests of global capitalism in Africa in general and in Ivory Coast in particular. That is precisely the reason why the West had never pardoned, since 2002, Gbagbo’s audacity to put an end to the neocolonial status of his country. So he had to be stopped by all means! His lot should not be different from that meted out to Patrice Lumumba of Zaire, to Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso and to Laurent Desire Kabila of Zaire. Otherwise, if the West let Gbagbo proceed with his project of building an economically independent Ivory Coast, other Africans would follow in his foot steps. Africa being the only region of the world with abundant raw materials, the declining West cannot afford to let Africans become the masters of their economic destiny in the 21st century.
As defeaters of colonialism, Ethiopians should have been sensitive to the Ivorian cause. The West has never refrained from demonizing Ethiopia when the interests of the former are at stake. In 1935, the West asked our ancestors to become Italian slaves in the name of avoiding war with Italy. The West decided to use Ethiopia as pawn in the diplomatic game destined to appease Italy lest Mussolini should side with Hitler. But Ethiopians refused and fought when Italy invaded our country in October 1935. Then the West (that is, the moribond League of Nations) erased Ethiopia from the world map even though Ethiopians never stopped fighting against the invader. In 1977, the West armed Somalia to invade us, and when Ethiopians took the counter-offensive, the West threatened to intervene if Ethiopian soldiers crossed the Somalian border. In the same vein, America worked for the dismemberment of Ethiopia by recognizing the independence of Eritrea while the same America has pandered for the last twenty years to the anti-Ethiopia policies of its Arab allies by refusing to recognize the independence of Somaliland. The Arab world fears that the independence of Somaliland should make Ethiopia the undisputed regional power-broker. Arabs are convinced that a united Somalia could be a counterweight to Ethiopia.
The West is not limited to promoting the anti-Ethiopia policies of the Arab world. In 1998, the West did not utter a word when the EPLF and TPLF launched a full scale invasion and wrought wanton destruction on Ethiopia. However, when the Ethiopian people launched the counter-offensive in 2001, the West accused Ethiopia of invading Eritrea. In 2005 elections, the Ethiopian people voted as usual for Ethiopian political parties. But the Eritrean rulers of Ethiopia said as usual they won victory. The United States took sides with its protégé, the Eritrean regime of signor Meles Zenawi. Then Ethiopians took massively to the streets to protest against the unending stealing of their votes. The Eritrean occupation force killed ruthlessly several hundreds of peaceful Ethiopian protesters and imprisoned thousands of others. The West said nothing. On the contrary it rewarded the Eritrean occupation force with 1.6 billion dollars of aid that year. To express its gratitude to its American protector, Meles Zenawi’s Eritrean regime invaded Somalia in 2006 on behalf of America. Who will pay the colossal debt contracted by our Eritrean rulers to quell Ethiopian resistance against foreign rule? Will the West ask Ethiopians to pay the money borrowed by Eritreans to destroy Ethiopian unity and territorial integrity?
In view of the uneasy relationship of Ethiopia with the West, a pan-Africanist from Ethiopia can only be saddened by the international banditry against Laurent Gbagbo, the legitimate leader of a sovereign country, Ivory Coast. Unfortunately, there are some poor and naïve souls among Ethiopians who regurgitate the Western media propaganda that the Ivorian crisis is due to Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to admit his defeat in the November 28 presidential poll. Among the poor souls among us who swallow Western media propaganda against Ivory Coast feature prominently Fekade Shewakena, Alemayehu Gebremariam, Keffyalew Gebremedhin and Gelawdewos Araya. If those individuals were patriotic Ethiopians, they would never be engaged in promoting imperial interests in Africa. The truth is that not only those individuals do have a soft spot in their heart for the Eritrean regime in Ethiopia ( the proof is that all of them describe the Eritrean regime occupying Ethiopia as Ethiopian government), but they don’t seem to have the foggiest idea about Laurent Gbago. Unlike them, Gbagbo is a man worth his salt, who stuck up until the last minute for what he believed right. He fought for the pride of his country even though he knew that he could not win against the West’s economic and financial strangulation and military invasion and occupation. It is to be recalled that the afore-cited Ethiopians passed on the Ivorian protagonists judgements marred by excessive subjectivism and by a superficial analysis. In stead of analysing the problem based on facts on the ground, the four imitated the international media in adopting a manichean approach to the Ivorian crisis provoked deliberately by the West. Laurent Gbago was portrayed as the incarnation of pure evil who clung to power by refusing to submit to the democratic verdict of the people, while Alassane Ouattara ( a veritable flunky of the West) was presented as the apostle of democracy and transparency. While Keffyalew seemed to have private scores to settle with Laurent Gbagbo, Gelawdewos Araya did not come up with a one shred of evidence showing that Alassane Ouattara was the winner of the November 28 presidential polls. The same can be said of Fekade and Alemayehu. The two didn’t seem to know anything about Ivory Coast apart from what they read and hear in the Western media. That is why they didn’t hesitate to draw a parallel between our Eritrean ruler, Meles Zenawi and Laurent Gbagbo. If truth be told, Meles Zenawi and Alassane Ouattara have a lot more in common whereas this is not the case between Laurent Gbago and Meles Zenawi. Unlike Meles Zenawi, Laurent Gbagbo had never been a bandit. He had not taken power by arms. He had never violated Ivorian sovereignty and territorial integrity. Gbagbo’s loyalty to the Ivorian nation is blameless. The arrival of Gbagbo was the beginning of Ivorian true independence and democracy. On the other hand, just as Meles Zenawi, Alassane Ouattara has taken power through blood letting with the diplomatic and military help of the United Nations. Just as Melles Zenawi and his Adwa collaborators are responsible for the Hawzen massacre in Tigray, Mr. Ouattara’s forces are accused even by the United Nations of having massacred about one thousand innocent civilians in the Western Ivorian region of Duekoue. Just like Meles in 1991, Ouattara has been encouraged and supported by the West to take power by arms. Just like Meles, Ouattara has the full support of the IMF and the World Bank. Just like Meles, Ouattara is also a multimillionaire who became filthy rich during his premiership between 1990-1993. Just like Meles, Ouattara is known for having been responsible for huge capital flight in the 1990′s. Unlike Gbagbo, Meles and Ouattara have a record of imprisoning political opponents. Despite that, both of them have the full support of global capitalism. It is because Ouattara is absolutely loyal to global capitalist interests that the Western media have left no stone unturned to mislead world opinion into believing that Ouattara is the winner of the November 28 presidential poll. Meles and Ouattara are also known for instigating a tribal pandemonium. Ouattara says incessantly: “they don’t want me to be president because I am Muslim and a northerner”. And finally, just as Meles Zenawi has never been Ethiopian, Ouattara’s ivorianess is questionable. He once admitted that he was awarded a scholarship by the American government as a citizen of Burkina Faso and even added that he carried a Burkina Faso passport until the age of 42. Besides when he was working in the IMF in the 1980′s, it was in his capacity as a citizen of Bukina Faso. His marriage certificate to an American woman named Barbara Davis shows also that he is a citizen of Burkina Faso. Based on this and other positive proofs, the supreme court of Ivory Coast rejected Mr. Ouattara’s candidacy to the presidential elections of 2000. But since his Ivorian nationality had been accepted by Laurent Gbagbo himself (for the sake of peace), Ouattara’s doubtful Ivorian identity could not be used to discount his claim of having won the November 28 elections.
So the question is, “who won the last elections in Ivory Coast?” The present writer does not claim to know who the real winner is. And anyone who says they know who the real winner is must be a dreadful liar. Yet the afore-cited Ethiopians said with unshakeable certainty that Ouattara had won and Gbago had lost. But they did not come forward with a single evidence showing that Ouattara had been elected. Alemayehu Gebremariam even went to the extent of accusing Gbagbo of having rigged election results. But he did not adduce a single evidence to buttress his claim. Even Ouattara has never said that Gbagbo rigged election results. So why did Alemayehu level an accusation which he knew he could not prove? The position of these Ethiopians can be described as a bandwagon appeal. That is to say, they didn’t make an objective and informed judgement of their own. But they echoed simply the Western governments and media self-serving imperialist propaganda against Ivory Coast . The same can be said of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, which declared in its 11 March session in Addis-Ababa that Gbagbo should leave office in the superior interest of the Ivorian people and to safeguard peace. However, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council has not told Africans in general and Ivorians in particular how it arrived at the conclusion that Gbagbo lost the elections. There is more. The African Union’s Peace and Security Council called on Ivory Coast’s constitutional council to swear Ouattara in as president. How can one in his right mind ask the Ivorian constitutional council to swear Ouattara in as president while the Constitutional Council had already declared Laurent Gbagbo winner of the November 28 elections and had sworn him in president of Ivory Coast? The African Union’s call amounted to suspending the Ivorian constitution. The Ivorian constitutional council would not have any legal ground to swear in Ouattara even if it wanted to change its mind. Whether it be in the United Kingdom or in the United States, the validity and the legality of elections is a function of their conformity with national laws. The Ivorian constitution says that the Constitutional Council is the highest judicial body entrusted with deciding cases arising from electoral disputes. Its decision is final. The decision of the Constitutional council declaring Gbagbo winner of the presidential election is therefore constitutionally irreproachable. Strangely enough, the international community of Western nations has refused to accept the decision of the Constitutional Council. On the contrary, Western governments and media try to sweep under the mat the fact that Laurent Gbagbo is the legally elected leader of Ivory Coast. So did the African Union when it asked the Ivorian constitutional council to swear in Ouattara as president. Paul Yao N’Dre, the president of the Ivorian constitutional council, explained in detail the reason why the Council declared Laurent Gbagbo winner of the presidential poll. The Ouattara camp has never contested the legality of the decision of the Ivorian constitutional council declaring Laurent Gbagbo winner of the presidential poll.
Even though the legality of the election of Laurent Gbagbo as president is not open to doubt, our compatriot Keffyalew Gebremedhin parroted the West and its media propaganda by claiming that Gbagbo lost the elections. Yet neither the Western media, Western governments, the United Nations nor the so-called African think tanks have come forward with a single verifiable evidence that Laurent Gbagbo had lost the elections. In a bid to tarnish Laurent Gbagbo’s image, Keffyalew Gebremedhin accused him of failing to comply with what he called “international will”. Keffyalew, a diplomat of the Eritrean condottieri, signor Meles Zenawi, thinks that the will of the international community of Western nations should prevail over the Ivorian constitution. Does Keffyalew know that the Ivorian constitution reflects the will of the Ivorian people? As if it were possible for democracy to exist without sovereignty, Keffyalew belittled Gbagbo’s demand that the Western world respect Ivorian sovereignty. Yet as a citizen of Ethiopia whose sovereignty is totally flawed by the Eritrean regime of Meles Zenawi, Keffyalew should have been sensitive to Gbagbo’s argument. Unfortunately, owing to Keffyalew and other imperialist lackeys of his ilk elsewhere in Africa, the West can make and unmake African leaders. The West can say without fear of being criticized that “international will” (that is the national will of Western leaders) should prevail over the national will of Africans.
Yesterday, the West colonized Africa in the name of its civilizing mission. Today, the West uses its democracy and human rights rhetoric as a pretext to prevent the emergence patriotic leaders who refuse to be its lackeys. It is in reference to the civilising mission and to the democracy rhetoric that Keffyalew talked about “international will”. Yet any seasoned diplomat knows that there is no such thing as “international will”. There is only national or regional interest. In the Ivorian case, the convergence of American and European interest is very clear. The sad thing is that the African Union which was supposed to work solely for defence of the interest of the African peoples decided to immolate African interests on the altar of the geo-economic interests of its neocolonialist masters. When the Ivorians accepted the mediation of the African Union, it was not to be told by the latter that their constitution and the decision of their constitutional council were not worth of the paper they were written on. It was in the hope that the African Union would help them find a solution in keeping with the African tradition of resolving problems on a win-win basis. For the sake of peace and stability, Gbagbo was ready to share power although he is the one legally legitimate winner of the presidential poll. But Barack Obama had been categorically opposed to any mechanism of power-sharing. Following in the foot steps of Obama, international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank said that they did not recognize the election of Laurent Gbagbo. The United Nations even went as far as accepting the nomination of Mr. Ouattara’s ambassador. So did other four Western nations. The Economic community of Western African states (ECOWAS) led by Nigeria even expressed its desire to invade Ivory Coast to remove Gbagbo from power. How can Nigeria, which has never had fair and free elections since its independence from British colonial rule can dare invade Ivory Coast? Goodluck Jonathan is not even an elected leader. What is clear is that the Western world has been able to rally most African leaders and news network behind its crusade against the only patriotic African leader, Laurent Gbagbo. All that encouraged Mr. Ouattara to reject all propositions of Mr. Gbagbo for power sharing in the name of peace. Mr. Ouattara was then comforted by the African Union decision to endorse Obama’s neo-imperialist policies in Africa. Yet the position of Mr Ouattara and that of the African Union was honeycombed with contradictions. On the one hand, they recognized that the Constitutional Council was competent to decide who has won the elections. But they refused to accept the Council’s decisions. For example, Ouattara did not accept the decision of the Constitutional Council declaring Gbagbo winner of the elections; All the same, he wrote a letter to the same Constitutional Council saying that he had been sworn in as president. This is very funny. You cannot reject the decision of the constitutional council and ask at the same time the same Constitutional council to recognize you as president. The African Union was mired in the same contradiction. It did not recognize the decision of the Constitutional Council declaring Laurent Gbagbo winner of the presidential elections, but it called on the very same Constitutional Council to swear Ouattara in as president. Mr. Ouattara and the African Union wanted to be outside and within the constitutional legality at the same time. In fact, both acted in flagrant violation of Ivorian law.
To be continued