Monday, January 3, 2011

US offers Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo 'dignified exit'

Source: BBC News Africa

Mr Gbagbo
Will West African leaders convince Laurent Gbagbo (left) to cede power?
Incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo could be offered refuge in the US as a means to end the country's political crisis, US officials say.
Washington could help Mr Gbagbo make a "dignified exit", but this opportunity was "rapidly closing", they said.

The comments came as a delegation of African leaders met Mr Gbagbo in a new effort to persuade him to step down following disputed elections.

West African states have said they will remove him by force if he does not.


The UN and the African Union regard Mr Gbagbo's rival, Alassane Ouattara, as the winner of the 28 November election.

Leaders Boni Yayi from Benin, Pedro Pires from Cape Verde and Ernest Bai Koroma from Sierra Leone - who represent the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) - were due to make an amnesty offer to Mr Gbagbo if he quit. They were joined for this trip by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, representing the African Union.

They were received by a smiling Mr Gbagbo, AFP news agency said.

Afterwards, Mr Odinga described the meeting as "useful", and Mr Yayi said they would return. They then went on to see Mr Ouattara.

It is their second visit in less than a week. Last Tuesday they flew to Abidjan, Ivory Coast's commercial capital, but on that occasion failed to convince Mr Gbagbo to stand down.

Guarantees

Sierra Leone's Information Minister, Ibrahim Ben-Kargbo, said the leaders would tell Mr Gbagbo to step down and did not intend to negotiate with him.

But a source within the African delegation told the BBC that the incumbent would be offered a legal amnesty, as well as a guarantee that his financial assets would be secure if he left office.

Analysis

John James
BBC News, Abidjan
Few observers have any hope that a compromise can be found that would see Laurent Gbagbo hand over power to his rival, Alassane Ouattara. The Ecowas mission will almost certainly go over the various deals that have been offered for exile and amnesty but, in his New Year message, Mr Gbagbo said he would not cede power and insisted that he was the rightfully elected president. He still has control of state television and the public backing of the army, but Mr Ouattara has the support of most West African leaders, who have already told the West African central bank to give him control over the state accounts. The leaders will report back to the current chairman of the Ecowas region, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, on Tuesday, at which point a decision will be made on the way forward.

Later unnamed US officials said Mr Gbagbo might be allowed to travel to the US, and that he had relatives in the state of Georgia.

"We want to see him leave. If he wishes to come here, we of course would entertain that as a means of resolving the current situation," a senior State Department official told AFP news agency.

"But any opportunity to do that is an opportunity that is rapidly closing because of what is happening on the ground, and every indication we have at this point is that he's digging in."

A spokesman for Mr Gbagbo, Ohoupa Sessegnon, told the BBC any offer of an amnesty would be rejected.

"It's not about Laurent Gbagbo seeking some sort of offer. It's about Laurent Gbagbo having won the elections in the Cote D'Ivoire," Mr Sessegnon told the BBC. "Now it appears that the opposition supported by the French and their allies do not want to accept that."

The UN says some 200 people have been killed or have disappeared in the past month - mostly supporters of Mr Ouattara.

UN peacekeepers in the country say security forces have twice blocked them from visiting the site of one of two alleged mass graves.

The UN has also expressed concern that some of the homes of opponents to Mr Gbagbo have been marked to identify the ethnicity of their occupants.

The Gbagbo camp has denied sanctioning abuses.

UN peacekeepers are protecting Mr Ouattara, who is holed up at a hotel in Abidjan. Mr Gbagbo has called on the 10,000-strong UN force to leave the country.

The election was intended to reunify Ivory Coast - the world's leading cocoa producer - which has been divided since a 2002 conflict.

Mr Ouattara was initially proclaimed the winner by the country's election commission - a verdict backed by the UN, which helped organise the poll.

But the Constitutional Council, headed by an ally of Mr Gbagbo, said he had won, citing irregularities in the north which is controlled by former rebels supporting Mr Ouattara.

Both men have been sworn in as president.

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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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