Monday, December 6, 2010

Hotel serves as new Ivory Coast presidency


 – Young men hold hands
as they stand in front
of a street fire set
by supporters of
opposition candidate …
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – United Nations peacekeepers laid sandbags and rolled out miles of razor wire Monday to protect the aging hotel that has become the de facto presidency of the man who most of the world says won Ivory Coast's presidential election.

A U.N. tank also took position on one side of the lagoon-facing hotel and armored personnel carriers were strategically guarding the parking lot as Alassane Ouattara held his first cabinet meeting inside a hotel room. Across town in the real presidential palace, incumbent Laurent Gbagbo continued to defy calls from the United States, France and the European Union to step down.

Last week, the United Nations certified the election results confirming that Ouattara won, and his victory has been recognized by numerous world powers including the United States and France. But that didn't stop Gbagbo from going ahead with a shotgun inauguration over the weekend, where he warned foreign powers not to interfere.

Ouattara's advisers gathered by the hotel's pool and in the lobby Monday, sitting in lounge chairs between potted palm trees. Joel N'Guessan, his spokesman, said they are asking for the U.N. to use force and physically remove Gbagbo if he continues to cling to the office.

"President Barack Obama called to congratulate Ouattara. President Sarkozy congratulated Ouattara. Germany sent it by fax. So did England," N'Guessan said. "These are countries that are on the Security Council. If they cannot make this man respect the results of an election certified by the U.N., then we might as well stop talking about democracy in Africa."

On Monday, the U.N. also weighed evacuating its non-essential personnel as many feared the country might return to civil war.

Gbagbo, who came to power a decade ago and has stayed on as president five years after his legal term expired, has clamped down on TV and radio, yanking foreign channels off the air. State television is broadcasting continuous loops showing his inauguration ceremony, and many people in the capital are not even aware that most of the world as well as the country's electoral commission believes Ouattara to be the race's legal winner.

Even as calls poured in from foreign leaders urging him to step down, Gbagbo defiantly returned to work Monday as if attempting to will a return to normalcy. Schools reopened and children in uniforms and pigtails could be seen heading to class, even as columns of black smoke rose from neighborhoods where young men burned tires and demanded Gbagbo step down. The country's air and land borders reopened too.

At the Golf Hotel, Ouattara received international mediator Thabo Mbeki, the former president of South Africa, who has spent the past two days shuttling between the two sides.

In the lobby under a ceiling carved with geometric African designs, several chairs were occupied by men in gray camouflage, the uniform of the New Forces rebels. The rebels took over the north of the country during the civil war that broke out in 2002 and destroyed the economy of a nation once so prosperous in a region of abject poverty it was dubbed the "Ivorian miracle." The men say all they need is the word from Ouattara to go back to war.

World powers do not want to see that happen. On Monday, the president of former colonizer France said he had called Gbagbo and tried to persuade him to hand over power to Ouattara.

"I said the following: It's up to him to choose the role that he wants to play in history," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in India's capital, New Delhi. "He must now leave power to the president who was elected."

As if preparing for an armed showdown, the U.N. was taking no chances with the nation's second "presidency." In the balmy tropical air, Egyptian peacekeepers were unpacking rolls of concertina wire, wearing Teflon-like gloves. Each coil looked like a giant slinky, and they were pulling them across a 1 mile- (2 kilometer)-stretch of land dotted with palm trees on the road facing the hotel.

The razor wire was already three coils deep on the berm in front of the parking lot, as the grand hotel that once played host to aid workers and diplomats began to look like a military fortress.

"It's like Napoleon who put the crown on his own head," said 48-year-old Ali Coulibaly, the owner of a shop selling school supplies. "If the international community is not able to fix this problem, we'll fix it between ourselves. Gbagbo can't kill all of us."

Associated Press writer Marco Chown Oved 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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