Friday, December 3, 2010

Next door to Liberia: Outcome of Ivory Coast presidential vote disputed

By MARCO CHOWN OVED, Associated Press

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – The outcome of Ivory Coast's first presidential election in a decade remained in serious doubt Friday, with the constitutional council saying it would release its own results after the electoral commission declared the opposition leader the winner.
Supporters of the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo called Thursday's announcement that he had lost an "attempted coup." The West African nation's borders were closed Friday, and foreign TV and radio broadcasts were banned indefinitely.

The vote was meant to restore stability after a civil war in 2002-2003 that split the world's top cocoa producer in two, but tensions on Friday were on a knife edge. The United States urged the parties to accept the election commission's results showing opposition leader Alassane Ouattara had won.

"Credible, accredited electoral observers have characterized the balloting as free and fair, and no party should be allowed to obstruct further the electoral process," U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement.

Gbagbo's five-year mandate officially expired in 2005, but he stayed in office while claiming elections were impossible because of the war.

Election commission chief Youssouf Bakayoko announced Thursday that Ouattara had won with 54.1 percent of the vote, compared to 45.9 percent for Gbagbo after days of backroom wrangling during which the ruling party had physically prevented other commission members from announcing the outcome of the vote.

In a press conference immediately after the announcement of his victory, Ouattara called on his opponent to respect the outcome.

"I remind my brother Laurent Gbagbo of our mutual engagement to respect the results proclaimed by the independent electoral commission," he said. "I'm proud of my country which has resolutely chosen democracy today and I hope this leads to a durable peace in Ivory Coast."

Those results though must be validated by the country's constitutional council, which is led by ruling party loyalist Paul Yao N'Dre. N'Dre said on state-controlled television the electoral body's results are invalid because the commission missed a constitutionally mandated midnight deadline on Wednesday.

"Only the constitutional council is qualified to give the results of this election," he said in the broadcast. "There are some foreign TV channels amusing themselves giving results. Ivorians should consider these results null and void."

Shortly thereafter, two decrees read on state TV announced that the country's air, land and maritime borders had been closed and that all foreign radio and TV broadcasts were banned indefinitely. A spokesman for French channel TV5MONDE issued a statement saying their programs were no longer being broadcast due to the ban.

The crackdown appeared to extend to local media.

On Friday morning, the state-owned Fraternite Matin newspaper denounced the electoral commission announcement and accused foreign powers of interfering in the electoral process. Only 12 pages long on Friday, the normally thick newspaper is considered the only nonpartisan daily publication in the country and its coverage had been hailed by international observers as the most responsible and balanced.

Reached by telephone Thursday, one of Gbagbo's senior advisers, Richard Assamoa, called the release of results "an attempted coup d'etat."

Supporters of Gbagbo had prevented the election commission from announcing the outcome from Sunday's runoff, saying tallies from at least four of the country's 19 regions should be canceled because of irregularities. When a spokesman for the commission attempted to hold a press conference to announce partial results, officials loyal to Gbagbo stepped in front of the cameras and ripped the results out of his hand.

Authorities also said Thursday that police responding to a call at one of Ouattara's offices had killed four people after being fired upon. The opposition coalition denied any weapons were on the premises and said the attackers fired first.

If Ouattara remains the victor of the race, he will become the first Muslim president in this nation whose rulers have always been Christian and whose first president built a basilica considered to be the largest in the world.

A former International Monetary Fund economist, Ouattara became the icon of Ivory Coast's downtrodden immigrant community in a nation that became a magnet in the region because of its prosperity.

Ouattara, born in the north, had been prevented from running in previous elections after accusations that he was not Ivorian, and that he was of Burkinabe origin.

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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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