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Can West Africa resolve Ivory Coast crisis?

Ellen Otzen | 15:55 UK time, Monday, 3 January 2011

Ivory Coast incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo welcomes Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010


African leaders are offering amnesty to Ivory Coast's incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo following November's disputed elections.

Despite almost universal criticism, Mr Gbagbo is still refusing to step down as president.

The UN says some 200 people have been killed or have disappeared in politically motivated violence in the past month.

The African Union has suspended Ivory Coast from the organisation until opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara "takes over" from Mr Gbagbo.

West African regional bloc Ecowas has warned that it is ready to use "legitimate force" if President Gbagbo refuses to stand aside.

Should the AU support Ecowas and become more vocal about potential military action? Can West Africa countries resolve the standoff in Ivory Coast?



  • Comment number 1.

    I think the UN has created a huge mess by wading into what is a typical African tribal conflict. Everybody knows that the fault lines in Ivory Coast are along religious and tribal lines.
    The problem here is not determining the most popular man, but to assuage the fears of the various ethnic groups. It seems to me that no attempt to do that was made, at all. What was needed was a sort of a Nigerian arrangement, carefully rotating leadership between the North and the South.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 2.

    I am astonished to see all the international community only ordering a man to step down.And as if it was like a sort of enchantment , there is no more thing to do with the knowledge of the thruth.As an African intellectual , I am really shocked .Alassane did not win anything and the electoral commission has never procclaimed a result.The thing is that the president of CEI that is the electoral commission talked from a hotel which is the headquarters of Alassanne .The latter is the adversary of Gbagbo.So international community , you want to knoww the very truth come in Cote D ivoire and you will. Stop warning only one person because you know that if Cote D ivoire burns too other communities will also . So be wise and help Ivorians to tell Alassane to leave the hotel. Because he merely lost the election.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    I believe the proverbial saying of every dark cloud has a silver lining applies in this case. Gbagbo's history of having robbed Quatara previously of a chance to rule Ivory Coast when Houbhet Boigny died based on non-Ivorien citizenship was ridiculous.Now this blatant stealing of an election result when his henchmen tore the results from the election commision and proceeded to announce their own was a true coup void of any honourable process.
    Even Tanzania and Nigeria are at risk. A precedence of positive action has to be set and strong lessons learnt for future replication. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Alas, Mr Gbagbo knows only too well that he can't lose, whatever he elects to do next. If he clings on, he'll soon be invited to join a "national unity government" (Zimbabwe or Kenya style) by the same other African rulers currently urging him to quit. After all, most of these rulers came to power through sham elections themselves. And if he starts a civil war, he'll benefit from the same outcome, anyway, probably from a position of strength. Or in the unlikely event that he goes into exile, he keeps the zillions that he's already stolen from the Ivorian people - thanks to the nauseatingly generous terms of the amnesty on offer from both Washington and his peers. The man is simply spoilt for choice.

    The real culprits, in my view, are the "donor" governments and countless "aid" agencies who never stop indulging these kleptocratic tyrants, and the global media (including the African ones) who lend them so much legitimacy in the first place. Imagine if they were routinely treated as the crooks and scoundrels that they obviously are: wouldn't Africa be a better place today?

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.


    Genuine Intellectuals dont straw up the facts.
    The Gulf hotel happens to double as the UN headquarters and Ouattara's campaign base.
    Its was but normal that the president of the electoral commission safely declares the elections under UN protection. After all the world saw TV images of a barbaric act by the Gbagbo representative in the electoral commission TIRING the result sheets and preventing the president of the electoral commission declaring the results infront of the press.

    The results he would have declared in front of the press, is the very result he declared under UN protection at the Golf hotel. So u better get your facts straight Mr. Intellectual.

    By the way, Gbagbo was later declared winner "only after" close to 600,000 votes, mainly from the North were rejected under claims of irregularities. So u see, if we apply logic Mr. Intellectual, Ouattara therefore was the true winner and Gbagbo the thieve.

    I have never been to a university, atleast i dont claim to be an intellectual. But i can be proud of my common sense and the ability to reason like normal folks do. The issue with u "African intellectuals" cannot show us WHAT YOU FOLKS have done for Africa besides brandishing your Doctorates and Phd that does not help the common man put food on the table.

  • Comment number 9.

    Am seriously against the use of force as this could cause more harm than good.I suggest diplomacy as this has helped resolved many critical problems in our continent.African leaders should stop terrorising us with that idea of "USE OF FORCE" they should consider the innocent population who are already been traumatised by their threats!!!!

  • Comment number 10.

    There is no reason to condone mr. Gbagbo's siege on democracy.This is a slap in the face to the people of Ivory Coast that showed him that they did'nt want him.
    He should know that when force is used,it does not how professional his army is,it is Ivory Coast's infrastructure and the lives of his people that will be destroyed.So what does he want to be remembered as?

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Solving problems in the absence of war talks:

    As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for West Africa specially so Liberia and Ivory coast is the war on terror for the purpose of global security.

    The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results.
    Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks.
    The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression.

    In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sizes to be heard.

    I believe there are always three sizes to every story...
    My side of the story, Your side of the story, and The truth. In the case of Ivory Coast situation,the truth still has to be uncovered. If you take time to kill an ant, you will discover that it has internal organs –Bernard Gbayee Goah

  • Comment number 13.

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  • Comment number 14.

    West africans leaders are sending a clear message: they are unable to resolve Ivory Coast crisis. Rushing to consider the option of a military intervention is an obvious sign they can't think outside the box: lack of strategy, lack of ideas or simply lack of political skills.
    I am deeply concerned how presidents COMPAORE, WADE, GOODLUCK, GNASSINGBE...would sit in the ECOWAS council and convince their peers that they are a good example of democracy, therefore they have the right to teach someone a lesson.
    The reputation of ECOWAS in supporting and collaborating with coup d'etat perpetrators is quite alarming. One may ask where was ECOWAS when Rebels in Ivory Coast was tried to overthrow a democratically elected government, or what is ECOWAS doing when president COMPAORE, and president WADE are manipulating their in-country constitution to maintain themselves in power as long as possible.
    It is high time, WEST AFRICAN LEADERS led by example, as just too few of them seem to be immuned from human right abuse. Leading by example would hugely help ECOWAS to gain respect in the region, influence political decision and therefore solve crisis.

  • Comment number 15.

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  • Comment number 16.

    What I have noticed so far since this brouhaha started was that, western media has been one-sided in the reporting. So for credibility sake, BBC should please try & report just as it is.
    I don't think Gbagbo himself will prefer the path of war, we have seen lessons from all around the world. It's never been a good story!
    UN, France & others alike should please respect the sovereignty of nations first & foremost and stop fueling enmity everywhere because of their selfish interest.
    There have been political impasse or even war in some countries, but none of this "horn blowing" as we're having here in the case of Ivory coast.
    My only question is "why were there no disarmament of rebels by UN prior to the election, if there were no ulterior motives". UN as an organization has lost its respect, as far as I'm concerned. It has proven to be a veritable tool in the hands of the power that be.

  • Comment number 17.

    I hope Mr Gbagbo will concede and peacefully hand over power to president-elect Mr Quattara,thus making military intervension unnecessary. It is sadnens me that when it comes to winning or losing elections especially losing with dignity and conceding power, Africa has a lot to learn from the West. In the US for example, political campaigns can be dirty and personal. In fact,candidates often make up or dig up dirts on their opponents. It is called "Negative Campaing". But, when it is all over, the losing candidates usually concede with honor and dignity. No fighting, no rioting or attempts on the lives of opponents and their supporters. It is even a common practice for the losing candidates to call and congratulate their opponents. I cannot wait for African politics to reach that level of civility and maturity. It looks like African has got a long way to go.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    The Ivorian problem lies in the hands of Ivorians.It is like in marriage where two people must always sort out problems on thier own.Outsiders can only advise, and thier advise can either be taken or not.The current impasse between the incumbent president Gbagbo and the opposition has been existing for quite some time now and has been bordered on tribal and indigeneosness .So the African leaders can only advise and it is up the two leaders to make timely decisions.Remember Gbagbo is fearing the charges against him in the international court of justice

  • Comment number 20.

    There is no need to offer Mr. Gbagbo and his entourage amnesty.There is no threat at all from the opposition side, if only he can listen to the Ivorien people. The people of Cote D'Ivorie spoke several years ago through the ballot that brought him to power, and now the same people has spoken what the difference? please step side for the sake of your people, no need to leave because it will division. You can still be opposition leader, as you are very at.

  • Comment number 21.

    Military action in these circumstances will always carry huge risks, not to mention the certainty of loss of life. This is why everyone involved in this has to be extremely careful - there is a not so small number of innocent lives at stake here. Mr Gbagbo has no conscience, he has no shame. He raises the stakes fully aware of the risks, but does so anyhow in the hope everyon else will 'chicken out'. ECOWAS needs and i think they do have a credible military threat, backed by the UN, the AU and others. This MUST remain in place, ready to swing into action at a moments notice. The Gbagbo's of Africa know no other language other than the whistle of machineguns, the language of violence. He will give it up.

  • Comment number 22.

    its pity to see people hungry and fight,especially in the poor Africa!

    Rhodes island - Greece

  • Comment number 23.

    As usual Africa does not know anything except corruptions and fighting for government positions,tribes does not exist functionally in all first world countries,and I think that's why our continent holds 50% if not more poorest(3rd world)countries of the whole world,while rest of the world is moving forward we still kill each other for food,water and land.we have not yet developed mentally to adapt peaceful ways to solve our problems, even though we may have white hair and dressed up in suits,but we still can not solve our problems,and Ivory coast,somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria are all examples of how our mind works,Europe,USA has forgotten about this,WHAT IS WRONG WITH AFRICA,I WONDER,LEADERS OF IVORY COAST BOTH KNOWS WHERE IS THE PROBLEM BUT ARE CLOSING THEIR EYES AND EARS TO HURT THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS,BECAUSE AS USUAL WHEN WAR STARTS THEY WILL BE THE FIRST PEOPLE TO FLEE THE COUNTRY,AND I HOPE NO COUNTRY GRANT THEM REFUGE AFTER THEY HAVE LED THE COUNTRY INTO WAR.

  • Comment number 24.

    I'm a Nigerian and I would urge West African Governments to keep away from this nightmare, save for abit of diplomacy...What do you get for sorting out regional problems? Derision by the world community!
    It's interesting reading the American's offering Gbagbo Amensty, there were a few of us who raised this spectacle when they were loudly demanding that we turn Charles Taylor over to the International Court...he had been cajoled into stepping down ....offered a peaceful retirement and immunity by a coalition of leaders - this was guaranteed by many African leaders at the behest of the US...they reneged. Would be dictators know that such promises count for nothing. I do not carry a torch for the Taylors and Gbagbo's of this world but I would say that my country paid in blood and treasure to create a peaceful Liberia and we cannot afford to do it again! Let France or Ghana lift the torch for a change


  • Comment number 25.

    Before anyone rush into going to war, has anyone research the story from both side? As far as I am concerned, there are a few questions that need answering or at least ponder upon.
    Does anyone realise that not a single institution in Côte D’Ivoire (which by the way is the official name of the “Ivory Coast”) declared Mr Ouattara t winner of the presidential election?
    Why did the president of the electoral commission Mr Bakayoko who is a supporter of Mr Ouattara proclaim his candidate the victor at their campaign HQ, (unaccompanied by all the other members of the electoral commission in complete violation of the law)?
    Why is there a discrepancy between the turnout noted by all the observers (~70%) and the calculated turnout obtained from the data given by Mr Bakayoko (~84%)?
    Why is Mr Ouattara bunkered in the Golf Hotel (his campaign HQ) with the rebel armed forces of the FAFN when he is supposedly under the protective care of the UN?
    Why is Mr Ouattara calling for the use of force when all diplomatic means have not been exhausted?
    Why has the hard-lined Kenyan Prime Minister Odimba softened after his visit to Côte D’Ivoire?
    Why is ECOWAS being more cautious about military action now that they envoy talked to both side in Côte D’Ivoire.
    Why is Mr Ouattara declaring himself president of a Côte D’Ivoire when the only body that can swear him in has not done it yet?
    Surely if there is a conflict, shouldn’t the incumbent president stay in office for the sake of peace and stability until the crisis is resolved?
    Why is Mr Gbagbo calling for an international committee to investigate the data in a recount if he has lost the election?
    Why is Mr Ouattara refusing the recount if he is certain he has won the election?
    Why are Mr Ouattara’s repeated calls for civil disobedience not followed by the people in Côte D’Ivoire, the administration and all the institutions of Côte D’Ivoire?
    Does Mr Ouattara truly have the legitimacy he’s claiming from the electorate to justify the use of “legitimate” force to put him in power?

  • Comment number 26.

    I believe West Africans have done enough of the talking than doing! If at all there was to be genocide in Ivory Coast, by now the situation would already out of control!

  • Comment number 27.

    When will africa grow? Let's all learn from the story of King Solomon in the Holy Bible who, in an attempt to resolve a matter between two women who claimed to own a single baby, wanted to cut the baby into two equal halves and share to the two women. The true owner of the baby had compassion on the innocent baby and prefered to surrender the baby to the false mother. I believe the true mother knew that in due time God will bring her sweet baby to her again. I mean here that Ivory Coast is the innocent baby. Let the true mother surrender and we will all know the truth. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely!!

  • Comment number 28.

    I will certainly say that the problem of African leaders is "Low Mentality" coupled with egocentric and nefarious attitudes towards the masses. If not for low mentality, why would Gbagbo want to come back to power after ruling for ten years? If not for egocentric and nefarious attitude, why wouldn't him let Outara bring his new ideas to the people of Ivory Coast? Ideas rule the world.. We certainly know from experience that Zimbabweans are not finding it easy today, as a result of political unrest.The leader has ruled for several years, without giving any chance to anyone, to try his or her idea. this self centerdness in Africa cannot take us anywhere apart from failure. but i believe that one day, God will definitely see Africans through.
    With regards to Gbagbo, i think the only way out is to let him rule and when he is tired with leadership, he will give up. leadership is like a visitor who will surly go one day. i have never seen any visitor that stays at a pace of visit forever. Gbagbo has seen what has happened to other African countries as a result of political crisis and nobody has benefited from it.

  • Comment number 29.

    Innocent Africans, I`m very sorry for Ivory Coast. Study these points below, and get the real facts about this problem.
    1.China is heavily investing in Africa.
    2.The Westerners are not happy about that.
    3.Ivory coast, the world largest COCO EXPORTER.
    4.Gbagbo does not want to work with France.
    5.Last year, gbagbo refused an invitation, trom France, for his military to march in paris during a France anniversary.
    6.Alhassan Ouatara is pro weaterner, that wed a french white woman.
    7.Alhassan Ouatara, Guilaum Sorro, and The president of the electorial commission, are all Northerners..
    8.Alhassan Ouatara is 100% ready to turn his face to France and the westerners.
    9.Gbagbo is ready 100% to turn hie back to France and the westerners.
    10.France,United Nations, and USA was the firet to validate the result, even before the constitutional court of Ivory Coast.
    11.China was the first to critisised the United Nations of over exceeding their power in Ivory coast,saying they dont have the mandate to interfare into Ivory Coast national politics.
    12.Very recently as yesterday, Ghana have allready opposed any military intervention from ECOWAS, they even went further and said they will work with any president in Ivory Coast.wheather Gbagbo or Ouatara.
    Dont forget we have red in past about BLOOD DIAMONDS, BLOOD DRIPPING OIL, from Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, NIgeria etc.
    My main question mow is, Is this going to be another Blood Bleeding COCO from Ivory Coast?.France and the EU, The united Nations and USA, have worsen this problem. Plan A, has almost fail. What will be the next plan B? To supply Arms and armunitions to ECOWAS in the form of credits, For military interventions. After everything Ivory Coast start to drawn in Arms depts.For sure Ouatara will sign any documents comcerning that for now. May God save the innocents souls of Ivory coast. All this, are the works of the Devils. Who are the Devils? The four brothers above.
    Off cause Ouatara have allready said, removing one person by military force, will not cost any arm to Ivorians.

  • Comment number 30.

    The situation in Cote D'Ivoire requires knowledgeable and unbiased involvement by external parties. The President of Ghana, who is a next door neighbour and with at least a million nationals in that country, has wisely stated that Ghana will be neutral between both candidates. Everyone knows that elections are manipulated to varying degrees in Africa, as incidentally in many countries of the world. Even the USA has a dispute resolution process. Afterall George W Bush was declared winner in 2002 by the Federal Supreme Court.
    One side in Cote D'Ivoire has claimed fraudulent practices in some contituencies. The UN led by the West principally the USA and France, has ignored that and proceeded to declare a winner. ECOWAS and then the AU have followed in that wake. In Nigeria, contentious votes are discounted and governorship results overturned, even three years after the original election - Edo, Ondo, Ekiti and Oshun states are just four of these. Remember that Gbagbo led clearly in the first round. In the runoff, he turns out to be a clear loser! It can happen legitimately, but his complaints need to be investigated. The Constitutional Court, which has the constitutional right to so decide, nullified some of these results. Exactly what has happened in Nigeria. And President Goodluck Jonathan has been quick to accept the revised verdicts. But in the case of Cote D'Ivoire, the rest of the world ignores the due process in that country's constitution. The UN appears to abrogate to itself the right to set aside the legal constitution of a sovereign country because there is provision for it to comment on the election. The media, unfortunately even the BBC which has a reputation of fair reporting, claims that the head of that court is a Gbagbo supporter. So what? Where there not more conservative Supreme Court justices than liberal when George W Bush was declared the winner in the USA? Why must there be one rule for 'us' and another rule for 'them'? Is the person who declared Quattara the winner not his supporter?
    Quattara has since the so called international 'recognition' been busy advocating for the removal of his opponent. He also declares that this is an issue of one man standing in the way of the truth! Was there no civil war between the two parts of the country? Was the national army in charge of the whole country or just a part? Are the armed forces of the so called rebels not in charge of the other part of the country? Remember these two leaders were part of the civil war. Each is a sectional leader. That is the hard fact. Remember also that many electorates in the North are immigrants from other African countries. The issue of settlers and indigenes is knotty. Personally I believe the only way to remove the dichotomy is if there are common interests and one side does not use political or military office to try to lord it over the other, politically or economically. Unfortunately in this situation, that is not the case.
    It would be most unwise for Africans to allow themselves to be used to carry out the agenda of some foreign interests. If the country cannot unite behind one government, let each side rule itself for a period of say three years and then have a referendum whether they want to stay united. Southern Sudan is commencing such a referendum today Sunday Jan 9. The Southeren Camerouns decided to stay out of Nigeria and join Cameroun whilst the Northern part did not. This is far far better than killing people and forcing together groups that do not want to stay under a common leadership.

  • Comment number 31.

    Am highly disappointed on some african presidents stand on this issue most especially the president of Ghana because it was Nigeria that ensured that the formal president of Ghana President Kufo did not rig the election in favour of his candidate but because of the presure and influence Nigeria put on the formal president that on the re-run of the election in Ghana that ensured that the election that brought him in is free and fair and am disapointed that he cant stand boldly to defend the re-run election in Ivory-Coast that brought in the oposition just like him.To me,the President act shows that he is not bold to defend democracy with a free and fair election done by an Independent Election Commission in Africa and if Mr Gbagbo refuse to step down to the will of the Ivorain people,the West African Leaders should bring him down with Force.

  • Comment number 32.

    Let Gbagbo give way to peace in Ivory Coast or else his generation could be blame for atrocities in the West African Region.

    "The stubborn snake usually dies in one hole with the frog it persues."
    Stop acting stubborn my african brother.Step down for the sake of peace.

  • Comment number 33.

    At what point was election rigged as claimed by Mr. Gbagbo, and even if it is true, he can not get justice illegally. Mr Gbagbo should realise that in democratic process, election results is what matters.It is in his best interest to leave honorably and get a soft landing but if he is refusing to handover, Ivory coast will be a nation without governance and the consequency will be another Darfur in West Africa. Mr Gbagbo action will lead to economic harship, poverty, diseases and unrests. if the unrest continues international community will have legitimate right to ensure peace and this might equally lead to blood shed. However, in order to prevent a worst situation, ECOWAS should act as sson as possible. Mr Gbagbo should be remove by force and allow to face trials like Charles Taylor. Ivory coast is greater than him and I believe he should let this sink into his head. It is absolute nonsense for those thinking that ECOWAS is patronising the west, it is about doing the right things for the people of Ivory Coast.

  • Comment number 34.

    I don't think Mr. Bugaboo will accept any amnesty offer because he knows what happen to Liberian former president. most African leaders were not ready to be sincere even among themselves.they take promise for achieving something but the do the of it.


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