Friday, November 19, 2010

Trouble in Cote d'Ivoire, a country near Liberia

American Embassy's National Daily Press Review
This daily press review is compiled by the Information Section of the Public Affairs Office of the American Embassy in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

The political atmosphere in Cote d'Ivoire ahead of the November 28 run-off elections features prominently in today's press.

The electioneering campaign for the second round of the presidential election that will oppose incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and Alssane Ouattara, the Ivorian opposition leader, as well as preparations underway for the polls are the other major issues in the newspapers.

1. With barely 11 days to go to the polls in Cote d'Ivoire, a front-page story in L'inter (an independent daily) suggests that the run-off elections scheduled for November 28 could be threatened, as the western city of Bangolo came under heavy gunfire yesterday. According to the paper, a movie show organized by President Gbagbo's campaign team in the region has triggered the tension. The paper quotes eyewitnesses' reports saying that the ruling FPI party's youth supporters were gathered to watch the film when armed men, believed to be elements of the New Forces serving in the Center of the Integrated Command (CCI), took the film watchers by surprise and shot, creating a stampede. It's in reaction to this gun fire that the ruling FPI party's youth supporters went berserk, bringing activities in Bangolo to a standstill, reports the paper.

2. Reporting on the same incident, the state-owned daily Fraternite Matin says the population in Bangolo went on a rampage yesterday after elements of the CCI shot to stop a film show. The report also says the demonstrators set up barricades throughout the city and took position at the main entrance of the town. The paper quotes one Sergeant Cisse Amidou, believed to be an element of the CCI who led the shooting expedition, as saying: "You think the war is over. The rebellion is still alive. We'll kill you like you see it in the film that you have just watched."

3. "Before the second round, the rebels shot erratically in Bangolo," writes Notre Voie (a daily close to the ruling FPI party); while another front-page story in Soir Info (an independent daily) reads: "Gun fire in Bangolo." The paper carries another prominent article saying that unidentified gunmen yesterday attacked Gbagbo's campaign headquarters in Abidjan.

4. Telling its side of the story, a banner headline in Nord-Sud Quotidien (a daily close to the Ivorian Prime Minister) says a film that promotes hatred has sparked mayhem in Bangolo. The paper goes on to call the organizers of the film show "arsonists who are trying to set the country ablaze." According to the report, the film depicts atrocities committed in Bangolo during the September 19, 2002, military revolt, and blames the Ivorian opposition leader Alssane Ouattara for the killings. The paper warns that by showing this film as part of the ongoing electioneering campaign, the ruling party is just trying to turn the knife in the wound and hence jeopardize peace that is prevailing in Cote d'Ivoire since the signing of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement, the deal that paves the way for the long-delayed presidential elections.

5. On the electoral process, a report in Le Patriote (a daily close to the opposition RDR party) says the preparation of the November 28 run-off contest was high on the agenda yesterday during a meeting between the Head of the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire, Y. J. Choi, and Youssouf Bakayoko, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI). "We have taken stock of challenges that we came across during the first round. As we prepare for the second round, we are trying to find solutions to those challenges in order to ensure that the run-off elections take place in good conditions," the paper quotes Choi as saying after the meeting. The head of the UN mission also reportedly said that the remaining challenges include technical and logistic problems as well as the issue of how "to preserve the results." A report in Soir Info says Choi and Bakayoko are committed to correct irregularities that were noted during the first round.

6. Meanwhile, a prominent story in Le Nouveau Reveil (a daily close to the opposition PDCI-RDA party) suggests that the incumbent president is negotiating for the delay of the run-off elections officially set for November 28. The paper also alleges that President Gbagbo has tasked the Head of the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire to obtain from Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore, the mediator in the Ivorian peace process, a delay of the polls.

7. On issues relating to the media coverage of the ongoing presidential campaign, Le Nouveau Reveil accuses the state-run Broadcaster RTI (Radiodiffusion Television Ivoirienne) of playing what it sees as a "dangerous" game. The paper publishes an article written by an independent contributor who sees recent TV programs as designed to spread falsehoods and manipulate the population. The writer cites footage of a series of programs that show opposition supporters defecting from the opposition groups and calling on people to vote for the incumbent president. In a related development, L'Expression (a daily close to the opposition) calls RTI "Radio Mille Collines," in reference to the Rwandan radio station that was accused of playing a key role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

8. With more on the media coverage of the electoral process underway in Cote d'Ivoire, a report in Fraternite Matin says the French media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, has called on President Gbagbo and his challenger in the run-off, Allassane Ouattara, to ensure that the media outlets that support them respect the press code of ethics.

9. In another development, Le Temps (a daily close to the ruling FPI party) today carries a front-page story alleging that Col Yao N'Guessan, an Ivorian army officer, who is facing trial in the US on a charge of arms smuggling, has been freed. The paper, which withholds the source of the information, recalls in a recent televised state address, President Gbagbo promised that Col N'Guessan would be released soon; adding that the Ivorian leader has given instructions that legal procedures should be taken to enable the Ivorian army officer to be released. According to the paper, a San Jose federal court hearing the case had in its November 15 ruling that Col N'Guessan should be released on bail. Later the same day, reports the paper, Col N'Guessan left the Santa Clara prison to join an Ivorian official delegation led by Cote d'Ivoire's Ambassador to the US Koffi Yao Charles. Notre Voie also publishes the same story and attributes it to one Laurent Kouame, an Ivorian diplomat.

10. With a front-page picture of the Ivorian opposition leader in a pensive mood, Notre Voie says Alassane Ouattara is embroiled in a turmoil, as "his friend" Viktor Bout, a former Soviet airforce officer, was arrested and charged with arms trafficking arms and terrorism charges in a US court.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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