Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ivory Coast's Ouattara steps up pressure on rival

By MARCO CHOWN OVED, Associated Press Marco Chown Oved,

AP – Opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, right,
with United Nations's envoy
to Ivory Coast, Choi Young-jin, …
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – The man whom most of the world recognizes as Ivory Coast's president pressed ahead Tuesday with plans to force his opponent to relinquish power, including seizing the state treasury and taking control of government buildings.

Alassane Ouattara — whose victory has been acknowledged by the U.N., U.S., France and the African Union — has called for a giant street demonstration to accompany his government as it installs a new station chief at state television headquarters Thursday. He also intends to hold a second march the following day to take back the government buildings, where he plans to hold a cabinet meeting.

Both buildings are heavily guarded by Laurent Gbagbo's security forces and any attempt to move in on them is likely to spark violence.

The president of Ouattara's electoral coalition, Djedje Mady, announced the march Tuesday, calling on the "valiant people of Ivory Coast to take up the noble battle to restore the rule of law, guarantee fundamental liberties and assure peace and social cohesion."

In parallel with the street demonstration, a financial strategy to destabilize Gbagbo's increasingly isolated government is also being quietly pursued. Ouattara wants to cut off Gbagbo's access to state funds, 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, breaking the deadlock between the dueling presidents in this West African nation.

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 fell into poverty after a 2002-2003 civil war that divided the country in two. Ouattara draws much of his support from the country's north, while Gbagbo's power base is in the country's south.

"We're going to do everything to avoid a conflict," said Ouattara adviser Amadou Coulibaly. "If we can assume the state's finances, that's a big step."

Without access to those funds, Gbagbo's government won't be able to pay for the day-to-day expenses of running the state.

"All this generalized insecurity has paralyzed (Gbagbo's) government's control of finances so that the salaries of this month of December 2010 will all have to be borrowed," Guillaume Soro, Ouattara's designated prime minister, said Monday.

Jean-Louis Billon, president of the Ivorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, estimates that $180 million flows into the state coffers each month, though December revenues are even higher because it is both the peak of the cocoa harvest and the holiday season.

Ouattara wrote a letter last week to the west African central bank (BCEAO) asking them to refuse Gbagbo and his government access to state funds.

The regional central bank, which regroups the treasuries of eight countries that share the West African CFA franc, has yet to respond to Ouattara's request. Bank officials declined to comment on Ouattara's request.

While Ouattara's victory has been recognized by numerous foreign governments, Gbagbo maintains control of state media and the army, and continues to occupy the presidential palace and government buildings. He has kept the country under a nightly curfew since before the election, and extended it an additional week Monday night.

In a statement read on state television Monday night, Gbagbo's Civil Service Minister Jeannie Dagbo reassured state employees that the government was operational, and she urged them to return to work.

Ouattara's supporters, meanwhile, have called on all civil servants, including army officers, to rally behind the president recognized by the international community.

"I solemnly ask you to stop, as of today, collaborating with the illegal government put in place by former President Laurent Gbagbo," Soro said over the weekend. "Don't be afraid to follow your heart and your conscience."

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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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