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IVORY COAST: A NATION ON THE BRINK

By CLIFFORD OGBEIDE
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It's so pathetic to note that some African leaders will not stop at been despotic and tyrannical in their altitude by clinching on to power at the very slightest opportunity through manipulation and subversion of their country's electoral process to suit their corrupt need and selfish appetite for power. The likes of Idi Amin of Uganda, Mobutu Sesekou of Zaire

and Omar Bongo of Gabon, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, (Third Term Agenda) Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya etc easily comes to mind.

The most recent, is the Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast who has defied international appeals and pressure to step aside after the results of the runoff election of December 2, 2010, released by the independent electoral commission of Côte D'ivoire (CEI) declaring the opposition leader, Alassane Ouattara winner by a margin of 54% to 46%. In response, the Laurent Gbagbo-aligned constitutional council rejected the declaration, saying, Gbagbo had won the election with 51.45% of the votes to Ouattara's 48.55%. It voided out votes it said were marred by fraud in northern regions that were considered Ouattara strongholds. In a show of power and flagrant suppression of the will of the electorates, Laurent Gbagbo was sworn in Saturday December 4, 2010 asthe new president in a formal ceremony inside the presidential palace that was broadcast live on television and the government announced that country's border's had been sealed. One would have thought that the bitter lesson leant from the civil-war of 2002 in the world's largest exporter of cocoa, and the fourth largest exporter of goods in sub-Saharan Africa is still very fresh.

With his credibility in doubt, Gbagbo has ignored calls from international communities to respect the wishes of the Ivoirians. According to U.S President Barack Obama "the international community will hold those who act to thwart the democratic process and the will of the electorate accountable for their actions. "Nicolas Sarkozy of France has “appealed for calm and urged military and civilian officials to respect the will of the people.” The U.N. Secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon special envoy in the Ivory Coast, Y.J. Choi is quoted as saying "having evaluated all the tally sheets, we are in a position to know what really happened, with absolute certainty, we know that Ouattara won the election. The African Union, European Union, Ecowas, are among the international organizations that has rejected Gbagbo's presidency. The internationalmonetary fund stated they would only work with a government recognized by the United Nations.

The political imbroglio has heightened tension that the Ivory Coast, the once prosperous Nation and a driving force in West Africa, would once again be plunged into the unrest and bloodshed suffered after the 2002 civil war were thousands of people were killed mainly women and children.

Its high time despotic African leaders are told that, the only legitimate way to positions of authority is with the consent of the governed and not by suppression of the collective wishes of the people.

CLIFFORD OGBEIDE
[email protected]
C.S.D.S AMBROSE ALLI UNIVERSITY EKPOMA, NIGERIA