Ivory Coast: A Test Case for African Intervention?

Let it be put on record that Lauren Gbagbo has embarrassed his neighbours a couple of times already. We are not worried about the rest of the world but we are talking about Ivory Coast in the African context.

Just to recap, in 1999, Gbagbo ousted then President Robert Guei thanks to a popular revolt after a messy election process in which there were declarations and nullifications. So the African community forgave him then.

Then there was an attempted coup that resulted in a ceasefire. Then the African community gave him a mandate that expired but the environment was not conducive for elections. So they gave him two one year extensions as President and he slapped down the second because it gave too much power to the Prime Minister. A reviewed one restored his powers but a 2008 election was postponed… again.

In 2010 Gbagbo then took part in a two-round election that pitted him against Alassane Ouattara and the latter was declared winner by the electoral commission. Gbagbo’s lot protested claiming fraud. Noone believed them and so everyone and their mother except Gbagbo, his supporters and the Constitutional Concil declared Ouattara the winner.

The farce evolved and suddenly we had two governments sworn into power.

Africa reacted and it called on Gbagbo to resign and in an unprecedented move, threatened military force against the Gbagbo. Gbagbo in a war of words accused the international community of a coup and this has since escalated with Nigeria pledging muscle for an ECOWAS force.

Now African governments have been synonymous with the whole turn-the-blind-eye school of politics where they refuse to be involved in the matters of another government unless it is under threat from an internal or external force. In this instance of course they have declared Ouattara the legitimate president so on a technicality this could be classified as consistent.

But that said, how many coups have gone without any resistance? Could Africa be waking up to the reality that countries belong to a community and there are a lot of dependency issues that risk the stability of a region? Could there be a dawn that says we shall no longer kill each other so that the east and the west fight over the spoils of the children of Africa?

Given that Africa’s history is ridden by the greed of despots this is a pertinent question. Will Africa take care of its own? Fact of the matter is that only the African brothers can claim legitimacy when it comes to criticising or taking an action against a wanton nation. Any other country is handicapped by history or simply irrelevant.

If indeed we have turned the corner, could we start even making definite moves towards shedding the colonial boundaries that have separated us for so long?

One can only hope. Africa deserves this.

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