Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ivory Coast opposition wants Gbagbo gone by force

By MARCO CHOWN OVED,
Source: Associated Press
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – A top opposition figure called Wednesday for the international community to use force to oust Laurent Gbagbo from the presidency after the disputed election, as France urged its citizens to get out amid growing fears of civil war.


The United Nations and other world leaders recognize Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the Nov. 28 runoff vote. His prime minister, Guillaume Soro, urged the U.N., European Union, African Union and others to consider intervening to push Gbagbo out.


"It is obvious that there is one solution left — that of force," Guillaume Soro told France's i-tele television channel. He added that "200 people have been killed by the bullets of Liberian and Angolan mercenaries" in Ivory Coast but he did not elaborate and the numbers could not immediately be confirmed.

The U.N. said Sunday that at least 50 people have been killed in Ivory Coast in recent days, and the U.N. chief also has expressed concern about the recruitment of fighters from neighboring Liberia.

Still, there appears to be little international interest in a military intervention in Ivory Coast. The United States and the EU are imposing sanctions targeting Gbagbo, his wife and political allies. Hundreds of U.N. peacekeepers have been protecting the hotel where Ouattara is based.

Over the weekend, Gbagbo ordered all U.N. peacekeepers out of the country immediately in an escalation of tensions. The U.N. considers Ouattara president and is staying put, raising fears that U.N. personnel and other foreigners could be targeted in violence as tensions mount.

The U.S. State Department has already ordered most of its personnel to leave because of what officials called a deteriorating security situation and growing anti-Western sentiment. Germany's Foreign Ministry also has recommended that its nationals leave.

French government spokesman Francois Baroin said Wednesday that French citizens who can leave Ivory Coast should do so temporarily. At least 13,000 French people are currently believed to be in Ivory Coast, which maintains close ties to France and was once the crown jewel of its former West African colonial empire.

After a meeting in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, World Bank chief Robert Zoellick also confirmed Wednesday that loans have been halted to Ivory Coast. The World Bank's aid commitment to Ivory Coast was $841.9 million as of January 2010, according to the bank's website.

"The World Bank has currently stopped lending and disbursing funds to the Ivory Coast and the World Bank's office (in Abidjan) has been closed," a statement from the agency said.

"The World Bank and the African Development Bank have supported (regional bloc) ECOWAS and the African Union, in sending the message to President Gbagbo that he has lost the election and needs to step down," it said.

Ouattara has also sought to use financial pressure to force Gbagbo out, appealing to the West African central bank (BCEAO) to cut off his access to state coffers, making it impossible to pay civil servants and soldiers. Such a move could set the stage for mass defections and turn the tide against Gbagbo.

The latest international pressure Wednesday to force Gbagbo out comes amid rising concerns about violence in Ivory Coast. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that Ivory Coast faces "a real risk" of return to civil war.

Over the weekend, masked gunmen opened fire on the U.N. base in Ivory Coast, though no one from the global body was harmed in the attack. Two military observers were wounded in another attack. The U.N. also says armed men have been intimidating U.N. staff at their private homes.

A Gbagbo adviser said he didn't believe soldiers or people close to Gbagbo would carry out such acts.

The U.N. chief also has expressed concern about fighters from neighboring Liberia entering into the growing political crisis in Ivory Coast. The U.N. peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast has "confirmed that mercenaries, including freelance former combatants from Liberia, have been recruited to target certain groups in the population," he said Tuesday.

Ivory Coast's 2002-2003 civil war saw the involvement of Liberians fighting on nearly all sides of the conflict. Liberia itself suffered brutal back-to-back civil wars that lasted until 2003, and the two countries share a porous, 370-mile-(600-kilometer)-long border. Liberia's president has urged citizens not to get involved in Ivory Coast's latest political crisis.

Hundreds of U.N. troops are protecting the Golf Hotel where Ouattara is based, but they are encircled by forces loyal to Gbagbo. U.N. Special Representative Choi Young-jin said that a blockade was lifted Wednesday and U.N. supply trucks are now able to bring in food, water and needed medications that weren't getting through after Gbagbo imposed the blockade last week.

Gbagbo said late Tuesday that people could also leave the Golf Hotel, but Ouattara's people say they're still not venturing out for fear of a trap.

"Mice don't trust smiling cats," said senior Ouattara adviser Amadou Coulibaly.

Ivory Coast was once an economic hub because of its role as the world's top cocoa producer. The 2002-2003 civil war split the country into a rebel-controlled north and a loyalist south. While the country officially reunited in a 2007 peace deal, Ouattara still draws his support from the northern half of the country where he was born while Gbagbo's power base is in the south.

Gbagbo claimed victory in the presidential election only after his allies threw out half a million ballots from Ouattara strongholds in the north, a move that infuriated residents there who have long felt they are treated as foreigners in their own country by southerners.
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Associated Press writers Jamey Keaten in Paris and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

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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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