Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ivory Coast leader takes oath despite vote dispute

Source: Associated Press
Supporters of Ivory Coast
opposition leader
Alassane Ouattara
protest in the city of
Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – President Laurent Gbagbo was sworn in for a new term Saturday even though the United Nations and world leaders maintain his opponent won the disputed election, which was the West African nation's first since a civil war.

In a bold sign Gbagbo would not bow to international pressure to concede defeat, he wrapped himself in the Ivorian flag as he took his oath at the presidential palace.

"These last few days have seen terrible cases of interference," Gbagbo said. "I call on my fellow countrymen so that our sovereignty is not damaged, do not call on others to interfere in our affairs."

The ceremony came only a day after one of Gbagbo's allies went on state television to overturn previously announced results that showed opposition leader Alassane Ouattara had won.

U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy say Ouattara's victory must be acknowledged. The top U.N. official in Ivory Coast is also standing by the earlier results putting Ouattara ahead.

"The international community will hold those who act to thwart the democratic process and the will of the electorate accountable for their actions," Obama warned.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Saturday also described Ouattara as "the legitimate winner" of the runoff vote held nearly a week ago.

"I am deeply concerned by the evolution of events in Ivory Coast," Barroso said. "I call on all political forces to respect the electoral outcome, to show responsibility and to refrain from any act of violence."

Ivory Coast's presidential election was meant to restore stability after a brief 2002-2003 civil war destroyed the economy of one of the most affluent countries in Africa. Instead, the election is casting a growing shadow with Gbagbo holding the inauguration ceremony even as international pressure mounts.

Friday's announcement sparked violent protests in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan. On Saturday, Ouattara supporters once again took to the streets, burning tires and a table in one neighborhood.

Gbagbo's five-year mandate expired in 2005 and the country's first election in a decade was delayed multiple times. He claimed first that the West African country was too volatile and that security could not be assured. He later cited technicalities like the composition of the voter roll.

The election went ahead in October but headed to a runoff vote, and the country's election commission announced Thursday that Ouattara had won. However, new results released Friday on national television by a Gbagbo loyalist said that the incumbent president had in fact been re-elected.

The new figures put Gbagbo on top with more than 51 percent of the vote by chucking out some 500,000 ballots from Ouattara strongholds, representing almost a tenth of all the ballots cast. The head of the constitutional council Paul Yao N'Dre said the council was invalidating results from seven of the nation's 19 voting regions because of evidence that pro-Gbagbo voters were intimidated by mobs.

"You think that you can cheat, stuff ballot boxes and intimidate voters and that the other side won't see what is going on," Gbagbo said Saturday.

The figures released Friday were immediately rejected by the United Nations, which is responsible for certifying the final results.

The country's constitution gives the constitutional council the final word on the outcome of the vote, but a 2007 peace deal signed by Gbagbo said the United Nations would also need to certify the results.

Young-Jin Choi, the top U.N. official in the country, made clear that the U.N. was standing by the earlier results putting Ouattara ahead.

"The results of the second round of the presidential election as they were proclaimed by the president of the Independent Electoral Commission do not change. This confirms Alassane Ouattara as winner of the second round," Choi said at a news conference attended by numerous reporters but not broadcast on local TV.

The move was met by stinging criticism from Gbagbo's camp, which issued a threat to Choi on the evening newscast.

"Mr. Choi is acting against the charter of the U.N. It's a travesty that a bureaucrat at the U.N. wants to designate the president of Ivory Coast," said Alcide Djedje, the country's permanent representative to the United Nations, who is an adviser to Gbagbo. "If he continues like this, we will ask him to leave Ivory Coast."

The 68-year-old Ouattara, a former economist for the International Monetary Fund, held his own press conference a short while later.

"The special representative of the Secretary-General just certified the results given by the Independent Electoral Commission which declares me the winner of the second round of the election," he said. "I am thus president of the Ivory Coast."

The African Union warned the government to put the nation first and to accept the results. "Any other approach risks plunging (Ivory Coast) into a crisis with incalculable consequences for the country, as well as for the region and the continent as a whole," the AU said in a statement.

The country was placed on lockdown immediately after the commission announced Ouattara's win on Thursday, with a decree read on state TV saying the nation's air and land borders had been closed and that foreign TV and radio had been banned.

Associated Press staffer Rebecca Blackwell in Abidjan and Angela Charlton in Paris 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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