BEFORE THE PRECISION-GUIDED BOMBS FALL IN SOUTHERN IVORY COAST
If the UN and the world were not preoccupied with stopping Gadhafi’s determined tyranny which is further exposed by his mistreatment of the people of Libya exercising their Self Determination rights, Ivory Coast would be on the crosshairs by now. The mesmerizing and incredibly courageous acts of the ordinary peoples of Arab countries have thus served at least a dual purpose: inspiring other peoples to demand and obtain drastic changes in and necessary responsive governance from their governments; and delaying the ravaging of Ivory Coast and its peoples by rocket-fire and bombs, in the name of enforcing recent election results there.
Before that happens, it is our moral duty to inform the UN, the AU, and the rest of the world that there can be no justification for the further loss of life, limb, property or livelihood of any person in Ivory Coast resulting from their actions or inactions for the reason that the UN wants to forcibly remove the crusty sit-tight dictator called Laurent Gbagbo from office. By the same token, there is no justification for anyone in Ivory Coast to lose life, limb, property or livelihood anymore just because Allassane Ouattara won an election and the UN must have him installed in office as the President of Ivory Coast.
Gbagbo and Ouattara clearly deserve each other: they have been at the helm of affairs in Ivory Coast long enough, and have shown remarkable dishonesty and hypocrisy for failing to acknowledge that Ivory Coast is no longer one country but two—a North and a South—all for the selfish, egotistic and vainglory reason of social and political power-mongering and whatever else “fame” that might afford them. What were they thinking? Worse still, if they did not understand or realize that Ivory Coast is a divided country, they are mere ignorant fools. In either case, no person in Ivory Coast should have to suffer any more losses for the sake of managing these two. And, any outside-body siding with either one of them is just as hypocritical and or ignorant; if such a body should hurt any Ivorian on account of that, it is guilty of Crimes against Humanity.
So, today, I call on all Africans everywhere to respond to this ongoing tragedy and imminent catastrophe by supporting a proposal which the two actors should have come up with and offered long before now but were too busy trying to outmaneuver each other and getting giddy from the adoration and sycophancy of their disciples. If we do not offer and support a reasonable and logical proposal while trying to stop the UN from messing with and messing up Africans, then, we will be no better than the AU, and we will be all talk and no commitment, thereby fitting exactly the typical profile of the African by the world.
Here is the proposal: A Referendum for Ivory Coast. Both Ouattara and Gbagbo should stand down. Ouattara can go lead his people of Northern Ivory Coast, and if the Southern people of Ivory Coast want Gbagbo to continue to lead them, so be it for them. In any case, none of them should be directly involved in the caretaker-government (preferably without a Presidency) to be formed immediately, which will conduct the Referendum while maintaining economic and civic stability, security and goodwill during the period. If the Referendum shows that both peoples want one country, then, they should be able to craft a workable Constitution to accommodate and smoothen out all the things that divide them now; else, better stay apart. If the Referendum reflects today’s reality, then, two countries will emerge and should be recognized diplomatically; they can work out details of boundary and responsibility for shared assets and shared burdens. This is all consistent with Self Determination.
Whatever the UN had planned on spending for a military expedition in Ivory Coast, it could use to sponsor and support the peaceful Referendum; same for the AU. In addition, the AU can and should also get behind this proposal, since it is still negotiating (thus far in futility) with these characters: why not present this solution to them as the most workable and viable offer?
I started this article with the intention of appealing to the UN and AU and the world not to subject the peoples of Ivory Coast to military bombardment either in spite of Gbagbo and or in support of Ouattara, but to apply the principles of Self Determination which are of a higher order, and yet more basic, and definitely more reflective of the peoples’ desires than election results. However, it is obvious now that the appeal should actually go to you—fellow Africans; those of you reading this, and those to whom you will send or cross-post this (trusting that the number will be high). African leaders, intellectuals, elite, middle-class, pundits, and masses: let’s just close ranks now and see this one through, using Self Determination. Our Arab colleagues are doing the same for their oppressed peoples; the Europeans themselves have really never stopped practicing Self Determination. It’s truly all about Self Determination these days: shouldn’t it be Africa’s turn to put it into practice?
Ask yourself this question: does one more Ivorian deserve to die because Ouattara wants to be President of Ivory Coast, and / or because Gbagbo will not leave that office following a lost election? The answer should be, in fact is, a resounding, “No!” Then, support and disseminate the proposal above. When we speak loud with one voice, the UN and the powers-that-be will hear us and heed us. They heard and heeded the Arab League.
Written by Oguchi Nkwocha, MD.