Baba Tunde Olateji, FrontPageAfrica Correspondent
|Doukoue’, Ivory Coast-|
Unaware of what was afoot, they came face to face with their ‘liberators’--- men who have been hired to free them from the clutches of the dictatorial regime of President Laurent Gbagbo and to give them a new life; a new beginning and democracy that will never be. For many relatives of the victims, it was a colourful dream—a colourful liberation warmly articulated and supported by the international community in the name of democracy that never was! It produced pains, agonies, and deaths of scores of innocent women, children and the elderly burned alive with the charred bodies strewn across Duoukoue’.
But hours after their ‘liberation’, scores lay dead in the pools of blood. Their untimely killing is a telling example of what liberation means in African politics.
The mass killing has drawn ire from Ouattara supporters.
Sadie Toure, who sold pastries at a local store just before the post-election violence blames the international community for allowing the bloodshed to get this far.
Said Toure: ‘‘These innocent victims were alive until Doukoue’ was ‘liberated’ by forces allegedly sympathetic to Alassane Ouattara, one of the protagonists in the power struggle in La Cote’ d’Ivoire. Now that their gruesome deaths have presented a rather chilling example of what is still in the offing, what other evidence does the international community want to stop defending Ouattara’s ill-fated claims to the presidency and what hope is there for those Ivoirians that do not support brazen his alliance with rebel forces to take state power at all cost?’’
Toure says the victims were slaughtered; butchered and hacked in their droves in cold blood and made to pay for whatever sins the regime in Abidjan headed by President Gbagbo has committed for continuously holding onto state power.
Although far removed from the epic-center of power, poor and diseased these victims, their massacre in Doukoue’ presents a rather precarious picture of the scale of terror and brutality associated with those who armed struggle as a means of installing Alassane Ouattara as President of Cote’ d’Ivoire. In truth, the Doukoue’ massacre clearly unmasks a new look into the inner workings of international politics and the grand designs of licensing instability, mayhem and murder.
A Gbagbo supporter who was an eyewitness to the massacre at Doukoue’ said Cote’ d’Ivoire is bleeding not because Ouattara was declared as winner of the presidential polls but because those who made such declaration decided to ignore and sidestep article 98 of the Ivorian Constitution which gives exclusive and instructive powers to the constitutional council not only to certify elections results but to make its decision binding and conclusive as to the outcomes of all elections results.
Ethnic cleansing vs. casualties
Those who have been murdered in Doukoue’ had hoped to see a new day; a new leadership but that hope has been dashed by those who ‘liberated’ them from this earth into the abysmal paths of gruesome death in the name of freedom. Truly, they are freed but murdered in cold blood for reasons other than ethic cleansing and as casualties they are the prize of what Ouattara’s presidency means.
It is still not clear how and why many people were killed by those who went to liberate them. But one thing that is clear is that, their deaths have truly exposed the deep ethic divisions, mistrusts and suspicions between rival forces over the presidency.
A senior Ivorian official and Gbagbo supporter, speaking after seeing the scale of the mayhem said: ‘‘See by yourself the behaviour of the people of the man that Sarkozy, Obama and Ban ki moon wants as president of Cote d ivoire, you can see how they are violent and the language spoken in the movie is from Burkina Faso. This is what the international community wants for our country, actually they are broken houses, stealing all the goods of people, killing those who resist, I don t know how they will rule this country. This is what Ivorians wanted to avoid for the country, the international community will come after as they did in RWANDA to apologize with compassion but all these poor men and women will not be there to hear the hypocrisies of the international community. What a world are we building for our children and the future? Is this the democracy they are building in Africa? May GOD help us! Indeed, his comments underline the traumatic expericen of the Ivorian people and reveal an awful ot of the motive of Ouattara and his supporters.
Just how long will the blood thirsty campaign, mayhem and murder last to justify Ouattara’s claims to the presidency is a question that only those in the international community who have licensed this reign of terror to remove President Laurent Gbagbo from power at all cost, can answer. In the meantime, just who the next batch of victims will be, we cannot say for sure.’’
UN eyeing greater role
Meanwhile, as the fighting intensifies, the U.N. special envoy to the country Y.J. Choi, on Monday said snipers loyal to incumbent Gbagbo were firing directly at peacekeepers in the country prompting the UN to take a greater role in the crisis. "We are planning action, we can no longer condone (Gbagbo's forces) reckless and mindless attack on civilians and the United Nations blue helmets with heavy weapons," he told the BBC.
The UN envoy added that the 9,000 peacekeepers stationed in Ivory Coast don't have a mandate to remove Gbagbo from power but they are permitted to respond to military aggression with force.
Gbagbo refuses to step down despite international recognition that his rival Outtara won a November election meant to unite a country divided by civil war.
Forces loyal to Ouattara are said to be on the verge of launching a major assault on Gbagbo forces in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast. French military forces took control of the main airport after Paris said it was considering evacuating its citizens from the country.
The International Committee for the Red Cross announced Monday that at least 800 people were killed in the Ivorian town of Duekoue last week.
Duekoue is a strategic area because of its proximity to the cocoa-producing areas of the country. Ivory Coast is the world's largest cocoa producer.
The International Crisis Group said recently the conflict in Ivory Coast bore the hallmarks of civil war.Front Page Africa