Obama’s neo-imperialism in Africa and the triumph of deceit over legality in Ivory Coast Part II 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.
In the first part of this article, we saw that the victory of Laurent Gbagbo was not open to doubt from the legal point of view. The Ivorian Constitutional Council, which is the highest legal jurisdiction to decide electoral disputes, said unequivocally that Laurent Gbagbo was the winner. Barack Obama and the Western media said that the decision of the Constitutional Council was “null and void” because, according to them, the members of the Constitutional Council are minions of Laurent Gbagbo. This is a specious argument used for misleading Western public opinion. It points also to the existence of a grand Western agenda to prise Laurent Gbagbo from power and to make Alassane Ouattara wear the crown of of Ivory Coast. More over, Obama should have known that the United state’s did not have any right to impugn the neutrality of the Ivorian constitutional Council. Obama should not forget how Bush junior was declared winner by the United state’s supreme court in the 2000 presidential elections. The American people and the world at large knew that Al Gore was the winner. But since most of the judges were nominated under Republican presidents, they abused their office to destroy the popular will and replace it by their own. The problem is that the law always takes precedence when it is inconsistent with popular will until such time that the people change the law. That is why the American people accepted the ill-gotten victory of George Bush because the United State’s supreme court judges decision is final according to the United state’s constitution. However compared to the egregious partiality of the United state’s supreme court judges in the 2000 presidential elections, the Ivorian constitutional council can not be accused of being partial to Laurent Gbagbo. One may not agree with the council’s decision declaring Gbagbo winner of the elections, but one cannot say that it reflected the non-neutrality of the Council. To show the non-neutrality of the Council, Obama and Western leaders submit adhominem arguments saying that the judges of the Constitutional Council are close friends of Laurent Gbagbo; but one can wonder if Obama has ever appointed his enemies as judges of the United State’s supreme court? It is undeniable truth that no Western leader has ever appointed supreme court judges whom they know to be their ideological or personal enemies. Besides, the crucial questio is not whether the members of the constitutional council are cronies of Laurent Gbagbo. The issue is whether their decision is constitutionally legal. No one expects judges to tell the truth of what happened. Only God can know the true truth. As for judges, it behoves them only to tell the law’s solution to a problem submitted to them.
That being said, Obama and other Western leaders forget that the same argument can be returned against them when they say that Alassane Ouattara has been declared winner by the Ivorian Independent electoral Commission. But who are the leader and the members of the electoral commission? 19 of them belong to opposition political parties, 11 represent different administrative bodies, and only two are from Laurent Gbagbo’s party. Before and during the first round of elections, no one raised a problem either with neutrality of the Constitutional Council or with that of the electoral commission even though Laurent Gbagbo got the highest number of votes. The problem arose during the second round of elections when the electoral commission failed to release the election results within the imparted time limit (i.e., 72 hours period). Why did not the electoral commission release the election results before the expiration of the deadline as stipulated by the law? The electoral commission’s president Youssouf Bakayoko has never given the answer. What is indisputable is that because of its failure to release election results within the time fixed by the law, the door was foreclosed for the electoral commission to release results after the expiration of the deadline. It was up to the constitutional council to decide what to do next. That is why the president of the electoral commission, Youssouf Bakayoko, transmitted the election materials to the constitutional council after midnight on Wednesday 1st December 2010. Because he knew that he could not release the results within the imparted time. What happened afterwards is difficult to believe. On Thursday 2nd December 2010, the electoral commission’s president, Mr. Bakayoko, went to Alassane Ouattara’s campaign headquarters at Golf Hotel and declared Ouattara winner. Everyone (including the other members of the electoral commission) was completely taken unawares by the totally illegal act of Mr. Bakayoko. They say that Mr. Bakayoko received an order from American Ambassador to Ivory Coast to declare Ouattara winner of the presidential poll. And the Commission’s president complied with the order by saying that Ouattara won over incumbent president by securing 54.1% of the vote. The fact remains that the president of the electoral commission knew full well that it was out of his competence to release results, because the deadline for doing so had expired and because election materials had been transmitted to the Constitutional Council. Since then Mr. Bakayoko has gone into hiding in the Golf Hotel, where Mr. Ouattara has taken refuge under the protection of United Nation’s troops.
It would be very interesting to know why Mr. Bakayoko was led to act illegally after having transmitted the election materials to the constitutional council. The Constitutional Council was going to declare the winner on Friday 3rd of December 2010. It seems that Mr. Bakayoko was ordered to pre-empt the Constitutional council decision before it was made public. And here lies the unprecedented international deceit against the laws and institutions of an African nation. In his July 11, 2009 speech to the Ghanian parliament, Mr. Obama told Africans that Africa needed strong institutions and not strongmen. However the international deceit to prise from power, Laurent Gbagbo, the legally elected president of Ivory Coast and his capture by United Nation’s troops shows Obama’s shameful decision to render inefficacious ivorian laws and institutions. Surely Obama will go down into the annals of history as one whose deeds contradict his words. Obama’s arrogant policy towards Ivory Coast shows that being promoter of imperialism against Africa is not a question skin colour.
Obama’s blatant interference to change the decision of Ivorian institutions provides also clear proof that the the electoral commission was not neutral. Witness Mr. Bakayoko’s decision to declare the election “results” at the Golf Hotel, that is, in the campaign headquarters of Mr. Ouattara and before Western media. There was no Ivorian news network. The problem is not only that the conduct of the electoral commission’s president was illegal. But Western media misled world public opinion into believing that the electoral commission had the mandate to announce the winner of the elections. For example, when Alemayehu Gebremariam criticized Laurent Gbagbo for having refused to accept the decision of his own electoral commission, he misled his Ethiopian readers into believing that the electoral commission wass competent to declare the winner. That is not true. Alemayehu did not do his homework. The electoral commission was not mandated to declare who the winner was. It’s mandate was to declare provisional results. The declaration of the final result belongs to the constitutional council in that the provisional results of the electoral commission ought to be validated by the Constitutional Council. This means that it is only the Constitutional Council which can declare a winner in an election. That is why the constitutional council was led to invalidate the declaration of the president of the electoral commission that Ouattara was the winner.
The International community of Western nations feigned being scandalized by the decision of the Constitutional council. It tries to make believe as if the electoral commission could release results after the expiration of the deadline, as if it could declare the winner and as if its declaration of election results were final. The fact is that a party which feels aggrieved by the declarations of the electoral commission can take appeal to the Ivorian constitutional council, and this is what Laurent Gbagbo did. Gbagbo claimed that the election in the northern part of the country controlled by the rebel army of Alassane Ouattara was completely rigged. For example the number of those who cast votes was far more superior to the number of the registered voters. Neither Alassane Ouattara nor his protector, the United Nations have disputed this allegation. Neither have they contested the regularity of elections in areas under the control of the Ivorian government. It is unclear what the International community of Western leaders had expected of Laurent Gbagbo? Should he have refrained from contesting the regularity of the election in the northern part of the country under rebel control since 2004 so that the Western world’s candidate could be declared president? And yet, it was not only Gbagbo who said that the elections in the north under rebel control were totally rigged. Even though Western governments and media have never talked about it, elections observers sent by the African Union led by former Togolese prime minister Koku Koffigoh declared that the scale of electoral abuses in the northern part of the country under the control of Mr Ouattara’s rebel forces were on such a scale as to discredit the sincerity of the vote in many areas of northern Ivory Coast; the African observers also talked about intimidation, torture and assassination of Ivorians suspected by Mr. Ouattara’s rebels of being pro-Gbagbo. Mr. Koku Koffigoh also added that two of the African Unions observers were confined in the north illegally by the rebel forces. He thanked the United Nations for having facilitated the release of the two African Union’s observers.
The position of the African union observers was diametrically opposite with the position of observers sent by the European Union and by the American government. Observers from America and Europe had already given passing marks to the elections when observers from African Union said the polls in the north were not credible. Then American and European observers made racism-tinged commentaries destined at denigrating African Unions observers. Normally, the African Union and the ECOWAS (the Economic Community Western African states) should have endorsed and defended the position of the African Union’s observers. Bizarrely, they preferred endorsing the position of observers from the United states and from the European Union. This is something never seen before. You send observers and you disown their observations! The African Union should henceforth desist from sending observers. Not only that. The African Union also refused to study attentively Laurent Gbagbo’s proposal that the votes be recounted. However, Gbagbo’s proposition of vote recounting was illegal in that it was in violation of the Ivorian constitution which says that the decision of the constitutional council is final. But for the sake of peace, Gbagbo expressed his desire that votes be recounted in order to forestall any misunderstanding and suspicion regarding his victory. Here again, the African Union adopted the position of Bank-moon who was opposed to the recounting of votes. Does Banki-moon have the right to act as if he were the superior colonial administrator of Ivory Coast? What is sad is that the African Union obeyed to the arrogant orders of Banki-moon than to listening to Laurent Gbagbo’s proposal. Wherein then lies the Africanity of this so-called African Union which gives a listening ear only to non-Africans against Africans?
In reality, the position of Banki-moon was the most expected because of his palpable and egregious partiality to Mr. Ouattara. The Ouattara camp would have certainly accepted the decision of the Ivorian constitutional council declaring Laurent Gbago winner of the elections had it not been for Mr. Choi, a south Korean and representative of South Korean UN secretary General Banki-moon, who declared publicly that the winner was not Laurent Gbagbo, but Alassane Ouattara. From that time on, Ouattara has never ceased from claiming that he is the elected leader. Ouattara seems to say that the United nations’ mission chief to Ivory Coast, Mr. Choi, is hierarchically superior to the Ivorian constitution and to the Ivorian constitutional council. In reality, Mr. Choi is a simple international “civil servant” who acted beyond his powers and against Ivorian laws. He did that on the order of his fellow country folk, Banki-moon who wants to be elected as UN Secretary General for the second time. To that end, he must act in such a way to please the members of the Security Council. For Mr. Banki-moon, the Ivorian crisis is a unique occasion to prove his total loyalty to Western members of the Security Council and to get a second mandate even though that means causing havoc and death in Ivory Coast.
Indeed, one can argue safely that the post-electoral crisis in Ivory Coast is due mainly to the UN’s refusal to respect the clause of the 2007 Ouagadougou Agreement enjoining the UN to disarm and contain the rebel forces no later than two months before the start of the presidential election. In other words, the UN security Council did not uphold its own commitment to disarm the Ivorian rebels and to create favourable conditions for free and transparent elections. The election took place without the reunification of the country. Laurent Gbago insisted that the UN disarm the rebels but the Banki-moon was not willing to act. Because that was not the desire of the Western members of the Security Council, especially that of the United States. On the other hand, the United States insisted that the elections should be held as soon as possible. It pressured Laurent Gbagbo saying that he could not continue to hold power while his mandate expired in 2005. Gbagbo said that it was not his fault if the elections were not held in 2005. Finally he accepted to go for elections contrary to what was agreed in Ouagadougou in 2007. The refusal of the UN to disarm the northern rebels as per the 2007 Ouagadougou agreement showed that there was a second plan to resort to violence or to other foul means in case Gbagbo won the elections. The victory of Alassane Ouattara and the defeat of Mr. Gbagbo had been written years before the November 28, 2010 elections. In other words, it was decided by forces foreign to Africa with the collaboration of African dictators that the November 28 elections should be used as a means to topple Gbagbo and to install Alassane Ouattara by force as president of Ivory Coast. How does one explain America’s unprecedented involvement in the Ivorian dispute whereas it uttered no word on Burkina Faso’s elections which took place at almost the same time as that of Ivory Coast? Why has not America said anything about the fake re-election of Blaise compaore in power in Burkina Faso since 1987?
To understand Mr. Obama’s imperial interference in Ivory Coast and the West’s determination to topple Laurent Gbagbo, one should take into consideration the high geo-economic interest that the Gulf of Guinea represents for the West in general and for America in particular. The geo-economic importance of the Gulf of Guinea lies in the recent discovery of a huge oil reserve in the area. To control the Gulf of Guinea, the control of Ivory Coast is indispensable. Because not only Ivory Coast does have the most modern infrastructures in Western Africa, but its economy represents also 40% of the economy of the fifteen west African states. The big problem for the West since 2002 had been Mr. Gbagbo. So long as he was in power, the West could not perpetuate the neocolonial status of Ivory Coast.
From the foregoing, it is not difficult to see that the Western media discourse about democracy and the international media propaganda that Mr. Ouattara is the democratically elected president of Ivory Coast is a red herring. The real objective is not about the future of democracy in Africa since the West is afraid of the true democratization of Africa. If Africans were to choose freely their leaders, the West could not control Africa and its natural resources. If Mr. Gbagbo were to ingratiate himself towards the West like Alassane Ouattara did between 1990-1993, he would be endorsed now as president of Ivory Coast; the United Nations would not invade and occupy Abidjan to install on power its candidate, Alassane Ouattara. But Gbagbo could not ingratiate himself before Western leaders. Gbagbo was an African liberation fighter, a true democrat and statesman. Contrary to belief of many confused people including the afore-mentioned Ethiopians, Mr. Gbagbo is not a dictator. He never imprisoned his political adversaries. He never imprisoned journalists. That is why the removal of the legally elected president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, by the United Nations at the behest of Barack Obama and with the collaboration of the African Union is the defeat of Africa’s stride toward true independence. Poor Africa, when will your own sons refrain from collaborating with foreigners bent on enslaving you?
What is the lesson that Ethiopians should learn from the overthrowing and the capture of the legally elected president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, by the United Nations? The lesson is that Ethiopians don’t have any other choice but to be united and to act as one man if they want to pass on to the next generation of Ethiopians a united and independent nation. The West is not at all interested in the democratization of Ethiopia. It is interested only in the defence of its geopolitical interests in the Horn of Africa.