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On air: Ivory Coast on the Brink

Ben Allen | 10:22 UK time, Wednesday, 22 December 2010


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 22 December 2010. Listen to the programme here.

Update from Ros: We're inviting people we know that you want to speak to...

2011 is a big year for African politics. Next year nearly twenty nations across the continent will hold national elections, probably the most since the independence era.

So you can understand why many have been watching the events unfolding in Ivory Coast. One observer has said this is the World vs Gbagbo in an African test case.

With numerous International and African bodies going up against a steadfast incumbent the outcome in Ivory Coast will surely send a message to the rest of continents leaders ahead of so many important elections.

Today the UN is warning of a real risk of civil war in the country, they say Mr Gbabgo is recruiting Liberian mercenaries in preparation of violence. The Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also accused Mr Gbabgo of blockading the country’s UN mission warning that “attempting to starve them into submission will not be tolerated.”

- We've the UN spokesperson in Ivory Coast to respond to your points.

- We'll have at least one expert on Ivory Coast to answer any questions you have about the country and its politics.

- We're inviting spokespeople for both Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara to respond to your points (though neither have confirmed yet...).


So where will this all end? The Economist says the AU must not look weak:

As the continent’s leading body, which often intones the mantra of “African solutions to African problems”, must not back down. It has done just that several times before when a well-entrenched incumbent has been defeated at the polls but insisted on staying on. In the past few years, most notably in Kenya and Zimbabwe, presidents have lost elections but, after horrendous spasms of violence, have persuaded the AU and junior regional bodies, such as the 15-country Southern African Development Community, to let them remain at the head of patchwork governments of “national unity”. Worse still, a year ago in Madagascar the AU deplored a coup and loudly insisted that the power-grabber should stand aside. But after an awkward hiatus, nothing more was done.

Knox Chitiyo, head of the Africa programme at the Royal United Services Institute says the international community must act fast:

If the impasse continues, the implications are that elections don't matter and that defeated candidates who have military support can always use constitutionalism to subvert democracy.

The EU has agreed a travel ban on Mr Gbabgo and at least one African country has offered him exile if he steps down but what more can be done? According to the FT an african diplomat is very clear about the options left to Eocwas:

There are two scenarios: either the international and regional pressure pushes Gbagbo to leave office or there is civil war. There is no third way.

Do you agree? We’ve been here before and with so much at stake how can an agreement be reached?

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