Ivory Coast, please stop embarrassing us

The National Dialogue has just concluded and I must say it was eye opening. For the first time I actually sat down and watched the entire two-day conference on TV, on the radio and on the Internet, where it was streaming live. Listening to all the views expressed by the participants and the Rwandans that texted their queries via SMS, I was left scratching my head wondering how in the world people could say that there wasn’t a forum for expressing ones view on the government.

The National Dialogue has just concluded and I must say it was eye opening. For the first time I actually sat down and watched the entire two-day conference on TV, on the radio and on the Internet, where it was streaming live.

Listening to all the views expressed by the participants and the Rwandans that texted their queries via SMS, I was left scratching my head wondering how in the world people could say that there wasn’t a forum for expressing ones view on the government. Where else in the world can common citizens put their leaders to task, and get to actively engage in guiding government policy? I cannot name even one country in the world. If you know one please drop me a line.

Democratic institutions in Africa are a growth industry and as former British Prime Minister and adviser to President Kagame wrote in a December 16, Huffington Post article - How making Government work can transform Africa, -  “ by December, almost a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa will have gone to the polls since January(beginning of the year)”
Ivory Coast went to the polls but instead of these elections being a manner in which the people of Ivory Coast threw off the shackles of a simmering civil war, the end result of the entire political process was chaos.

I don’t want to believe that a single man can knowingly choose to push his nation towards the abyss but the two contestants are certainly opening my mind to that possibility. The entire Gbagbo-Ouattara cockfight is discomforting.

Unlike many of the commentators that I’ve read, I’m not going to pretend to understand exactly what is going on. Most of the stories in the papers somewhat ignore the allegations of vote rigging in the northern stronghold of Allasane Ouattara and make Laurent Gbagbo seem like a pantomime villain and Mr. Ouattara an angel.

Personally, I’m ashamed that this great nation that gave us Alpha Blondy, Didier Drogba and lots and lots of chocolate is becoming the laughing stock of the entire world. The European Union is slapping a travel ban on Mr. Gbagbo, Mr. Ouattara is hiding away in a hotel room in Abidjan and youths are roaming the streets behaving like hooligans. In fact, the entire situation is so ludicrous that the ultimate surrender monkeys, the UN peacekeeping forces, are refusing to flee but are instead hunkering down.

I cannot believe that these two veteran politicians are actually allowing their country to become one where the United Nations ignores the wishes of a president, no matter what his legitimacy. I’m not of the opinion that the international community should become the de-facto ‘chief polling officer’ of any nation. This is wholly undemocratic and open to political Machiavellianism. 

The institutions of state in the Ivory Coast MUST be able to handle this mess and for the UN to actively choose sides is a precedent that should NOT be allowed to be set. How can it be that an organization that is rife with corruption and influence peddling becomes one that chooses a nation president?

The UN’s role as an honest, neutral arbitrator is being put at risk. Instead of embarrassing Mr. Gbagbo and shunting him into a corner, quiet diplomacy should have been used to get these erstwhile rivals into one room. Because no matter what happens, whether Gbagbo weathers the storm or Ouattara gets his way, the Ivorian political-scape will have become dangerously polarized, north versus south. Instead of posturing dangerously France, ECOWAS, the AU and the UN must get these two men to butt heads until an agreement is made.

Any other solution that doesn’t involve this kind of joint input is bad for democracy and bad for the idea of African self determination. The politicians must lead, the international community must follow. Not the other way around.

sunnyntayombya@newtimes.co.rw

 

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