Friday, December 3, 2010

Next dor to Liberia: Council declares Gbagbo winner of Ivory Coast vote

By MARCO CHOWN OVED, Associated Press

AP – Supporters of opposition leader
Alassane Ouattara
burn tires in protest
following the results of the 
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Ivory Coast's political crisis deepened Friday as the constitutional council declared incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo the winner of the disputed election, reversing the outcome backed by independent observers and raising fears of violence.

The new results released on national television by a Gbagbo loyalist came as foreign TV and radio were taken off the air, blocking the earlier announcement by the country's election czar. Those results — which were considered credible by the African Union, the United Nations and the White House — gave opposition leader Alassane Ouattara 54.1 percent of the vote, compared to 45.9 percent for Gbagbo.

The new figures putting Gbagbo on top with over 51 percent of the vote were broadcast in a continuous loop on TV and on radio stations throughout the country, even though the results were immediately rejected by the United Nations, which is responsible for certifying the final results and which held a press conference to reiterate that Ouattara had won.

The comments by the top U.N. official in the country, Young-Jin Choi, as well as those by Ouattara, who proclaimed himself a winner at a press conference, were not broadcast locally. They were only carried on foreign channels that citizens could only access if they have satellite TV. Text messaging was also cut off, making it still more difficult for Ivorians to get a complete picture of events.

As soon as Gbabgo was declared the victor on national television, angry youths took to the streets, burning tires, and pulling down kiosks and billboards. The presidential election was meant to restore stability after a civil war erupted in 2002, destroying the economy of one of the most affluent countries in Africa. Instead the election is now casting a growing shadow as it becomes increasingly clear that Gbagbo is unwilling to step aside.

The head of the constitutional council Paul Yao N'Dre said on state TV that 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. The new figures put Gbagbo on top by chucking out some 500,000 ballots from Ouattara strongholds, representing almost a tenth of all the ballots cast. He also said the election commission had lost its authority to proclaim results because they had missed a Wednesday deadline to announce the figures.

The country's constitution gives the 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. Choi 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 press conference attended by numerous reporters but not broadcast on local TV.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared his support for Young-Jin Choi's certification of Ouattara as the winner and sent his congratulations to the new president, according to his spokesman Martin Nesirky.

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

"This declaration is a declaration being made by the president of Ivory Coast," he said. "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. I am thus president of the Ivory Coast."

For days, the ruling party had physically prevented the spokesman of the election commission from announcing the provisional results of Sunday's runoff, going so far as to rip the results out of his hands as he tried to read them in front of TV cameras earlier in the week.

And for five years since his last term expired in 2005, Gbagbo repeatedly canceled the date for this election, claiming first that the West African country was too volatile and that security could not be assured and later over technicalities like the composition of the voter roll.

The United States has urged Gbagbo to accept the election commission's results showing 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.

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.

That means Ivorians are only able to hear the ruling party's versions of events. Although the election commission chief's announcement was not carried on the air, the hotel where Youssouf Bakayoko spoke on Thursday night began replaying the announcement on the speakers in its garden soon after he declared Ouattara the victor.

The news then spread by SMS, telephone calls and Twitter to tens of thousands of Ouattara backers, who began celebrating in the streets.

News Headline

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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