Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ivory Coast crisis as presidential rivals both sworn in

Source: BBC News

The BBC's John James in Abidjan says the situation remains unstable
Ivory Coast is in a major political crisis, after rival presidential candidates swore themselves in.

The incumbent Laurent Gbagbo took the oath to serve a new term, but within hours Alassane Ouattara also laid claim to the presidency.

The US, UN and France say last Sunday's run-off poll was won by Mr Ouattara.

He was declared the winner by the electoral body, but this was overturned by the Constitutional Council, which is led by an ally of Mr Gbagbo.

The presidential run-off was intended to reunify the world's largest cocoa producer after a civil war in 2002, but has now left the nation with two rival presidents.

At least four people have been killed in election-related clashes this week in the country's main city of Abidjan.

On the streets opposition supporters are protesting against Mr Gbagbo's investiture, saying it amounts to a coup d'etat.

Mr Gbagbo's supporters insist the UN does not have the right to say who won the elections and have threatened to expel the head of the 8,000-strong UN mission.

Ivory Coast has closed its borders and stopped broadcasts of international news media into the country. An overnight curfew remains in place over the weekend.

'Switching sides'

"I swear solemnly and on my honour to respect and faithfully defend the constitution," Mr Gbagbo said during the swearing-in ceremony in Abidjan on Saturday.

There are fears that the country could be plunged back into violence Mr Gbagbo took the oath to loud cheers from a number of his supporters at the presidential palace.

"In recent days I have noted serious cases of interference," he said.

"I am charged with defending our sovereignty and I will not negotiate on that. I have never called on someone from outside to put me in office," Mr Gbagbo added.

Within hours, Mr Ouattara, a former rebel from the predominantly Muslim north of the country, was sworn in at an Abidjan hotel guarded by UN peacekeepers.

"I, Alassane Ouattara... swear as follows the oath of the president of the Republic of Ivory Coast," he said in a handwritten letter to the country's high court, followed by the wording of the formal oath of office, AFP news agency reports.

Mr Ouattara has earlier said that "the Constitutional Council has abused its authority, the whole world knows it, and I am sorry for my country's image."

After the swearing-in, he immediately re-appointed Guillaume Soro as his prime minister. Mr Soro had tendered his resignation in Mr Gbagbo's administration just hours earlier.

Mr Soro - who is the head of the New Forces rebels in the north - has warned that overturning the results threatens to derail attempts to stabilise and reunify the country after the war.

On Thursday, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) declared that Mr Ouattara had won the 28 November run-off by 54.1% to 45.9%.

But after Mr Gbagbo and his supporters alleged the ballot had been fraudulent in some northern region, the Constitutional Council - run by Mr Gbagbo's ally - overruled the Commission.

The council said Mr Gbagbo had secured just over 51% of the vote.

Mr Gbagbo also has the backing of the head of the country's armed forces.

'Held to account'

US President Barack Obama has rejected the Constitutional Council's decision.

"The Independent Electoral Commission, credible and accredited observers and the United Nations have all confirmed this result and attested to its credibility," he said.

He congratulated Mr Ouattara and said the international community would "hold those who act to thwart the democratic process and the will of the electorate accountable for their actions".

French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Mr Gbagbo to "respect the will of the people, abstain from any action that might provoke violence" and to help establish peace.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier called on Mr Gbagbo "to do his part for the good of the country and to co-operate in a smooth political transition".

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the current chairman of regional bloc Ecowas, said all parties should "respect and fully implement the verdict of the Ivorian people as declared by the Independent Electoral Commission".

The head of the UN mission in Ivory Coast also said it regarded Mr Ouattara as the winner.

The African Union said it was "deeply concerned" by the developments and pledged to take action against "the authors of acts likely to undermine the integrity of the electoral process" as proclaimed by the IEC.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said the IMF would only work with an Ivory Coast government recognised by the UN.

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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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