Thursday, December 16, 2010

At least 15 dead in Ivory Coast after clashes

Source: Associated Press 
AP – Security forces face
off against supporters
of longtime opposition
leader Alassane
 Ouattara whose election …
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Gunfire and explosions shook Ivory Coast's main city Thursday as supporters and security forces loyal to the two men claiming to be president clashed, killing at least 15 people amid fears the violence could push the country toward another civil war.
One errant rocket-propelled grenade struck an outer perimeter wall of the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan during the clashes, but no injuries were reported and the damage was minor, according to two U.S. State Department officials in Washington who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

At least 15 people were killed in the violence, said Traore Drissa, a prominent lawyer who runs the Abidjan-based Ivorian Movement for Human Rights. Senior opposition official Amadou Coulibaly put the toll at 18 dead, but the figure could not be immediately confirmed, and police could not be reached for comment. An Associated Press reporter saw at least three bodies in one neighborhood.

The bloodshed across Abidjan is part of a risky push to take control of state institutions by Alassane Ouattara, the widely recognized winner of an election that millions once hoped would reunite the West African nation.

Long streams of light and heavy machine-gunfire and unexplained explosions were audible for 30 to 45 minutes in the streets outside the U.N.-protected Golf Hotel, where Ouattara has attempted to govern while incumbent Laurent Gbagbo rules from the presidential palace.

The exchange of fire erupted when rebel troops — who control the north of the country and are helping guard Ouattara — tried to remove makeshift roadblocks on streets near the hotel, Ouattara communications adviser Massere Toure told The Associated Press. She said government forces wounded three rebels. Both the army and police declined to comment on the fighting.

Elsewhere, riot police fired tear gas and live rounds to disperse gathering protesters in multiple parts of the city. In the Abobo neighborhood, an Associated Press photographer saw the bodies of three men lying in the street who several witnesses said had been shot by police. One had been shot in the head, two others in the chest. Several more were wounded during midmorning clashes elsewhere, according to AP reporters on the scene.

The violence brought skyscraper-lined Abidjan to a standstill. Businesses were closed and fearful residents stayed home. City streets were deserted except for soldiers and police, who also used batons to beat back demonstrators, some of whom hurled stones from rooftops at security forces.

Ivory Coast has been operating with two presidents and two governments since a disputed Nov. 28 runoff. Ouattara was declared the winner by the country's electoral commission, but the next day, the constitutional council overturned those results after invalidating a half-million votes from Ouattara strongholds.

The dispute has raised fears of renewed unrest in the world's largest cocoa producer, which is struggling to recover from the 2002-2003 civil war that divided the country in two. Ouattara draws much of his support from the country's rebel-held north, while Gbagbo's power base is in the south.

On Friday, Ouattara plans a second march to take back other government buildings and hold a Cabinet meeting.

"The next two days will determine everything. It's all or nothing," said Jean-Claude N'dri, a cable television salesman in Treichville neighborhood, where riot police and soldiers loyal to Gbagbo fired tear gas to disperse one group of around 500 people. Streets there filled with hazy clouds of smoke as gas canisters burned.

Similar violence broke out in the city's Koumassi district. And outside the opposition coalition headquarters, police in armored vehicles fired into another hundreds-strong crowd of demonstrators, wounding three people, said Michel Bazia, a civil servant who lives in the neighborhood.

Ouattara — whose election victory has been acknowledged by the U.N., U.S., France and the African Union — has called on his backers to help him take control of state institutions. On Thursday, they had vowed to march to the national television station to install a new state television chief, but they did not get close.

The two stations broadcasting from the building are the only Ivorian broadcasters in the country. They provide a powerful voice for the person controlling them: In the days after the U.N. said incumbent Laurent Gbagbo lost, people watching Gbagbo-controlled state TV saw only the announcement of his victory.

The TV building is being heavily protected by Gbagbo's troops, and police and soldiers sealed off streets around it Thursday, blocking them with makeshift roadblocks made of wooden tables and benches. Two armored personnel carriers filled with helmeted troops were parked nearby.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned the politically charged environment could spark a new civil war. Others have urged restraint.

"The risk for yet more bloodshed and senseless loss of life ... is extremely high," said Corinne Dufka, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch based in Dakar, Senegal. "All those concerned must do all they can to prevent this scenario — soldiers and police must be given explicit orders to use restraint and minimum use of force; and the U.N. must stand ready to fulfill their mandate to protect those being threatened with violence."
Associated Press writers Todd Pitman in Dakar, Senegal and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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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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