Africa: Ivory Coast Getting Rid of Laurent Gbagbo
The stalemate may still persist in Libya, but in the Ivory Coast matters are reaching a conclusion. If former president Laurent Gbagbo is fortunate, he and his family will be granted a secure exit and reasonable exile.
The Ivory Coast will have one president, Alassane Ouattara, the official winner of the presidential elections. Outtara is recognized by both the international community and, perhaps more importantly, by the neighboring African states.
While it was clear that Outtara's forces were enjoying the upper hand, what apparently broke the back of the Gbagbo resistance was the involvement of French and UN forces yesterday in silencing Gbagbo's artillery. The French claimed that they were merely enforcing UN instructions and protecting civilians.
Gbagbo must've realized that the game was up when nobody condemned the intervention and leaders, such as Barack Obama, firmly supported it.
Mr Gbagbo's army chief, Gen Philippe Mangou, effectively confirmed this when he told the AFP news agency his troops had stopped fighting.
"Following the bombardment by the French forces on some of our positions and certain strategic points in the city of Abidjan, we have ourselves stopped fighting and have asked the general commanding [Unoci] for a ceasefire,"
France, despite the fact that Gbagbo is French educated, has been on the outs with him for some time.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe summed up on Tuesday:
"We are today, I hope, on the brink of convincing Mr Gbagbo to leave power and let Alassane Ouattara exercise power", Juppe said. "We must now look to the future, helping this new Ivory Coast reconstruct in peace and prosperity."
While many other African leaders have rigged election results or ignored them Gbagbo has become an embarrassment because the international community, as well as Africa, had invested heavily in a process to end the Civil War. Their reputation was on the line as well. African countries also fear a spillover of the Civil War into neighboring Liberia, Sierra Leona and other countries where both sides recruited troops.
Unlike Sudan or Zimbabwe, Gbagbo did not have a precious commodity, like oil or uranium, which he could use to secure an international protector such as China complete with a veto power. It is true that the price of Ivory Coast cocoa beans and coffee might be affected, but buyers had other sources and many had stocked up in advance.