Laurent Gbagbo, a Stray Scapegoat in the Den of Lions

“I have come, not to praise Caesar, but to burry Caesar, the evil that men do will live after them… “.This was the solemn dirge uttered by Mark Antonio, the anointed and adopted son of Caesar, the emperor of imperial Rome, as Julius Caesar’s dead body laid at his feet, grievously murdered by the seven senators of Rome among whom was the once trusted right-hand man of Caesar, Brutus. In a similar fold and fashion, this piece is not an attempt to hold forte for Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast, nor to malign him either, but rather to bring to the attention of the world some salient international treachery against African leaders and in so many instances against third world countries. The international ethics and principles of sovereignty, in which no nation is permitted to meddle in the internal affairs of other nations are never practiced nor upheld in its utmost sanctity, whenever such nations of the world happened to be from Africa or any of the third world countries of Asia, Latin America among others.

There is no doubt that since independent, France had been meddling without any pretense in the affairs of the ‘independent’ nation of Ivory Coast. And infact, this got to its zenith at the inception of President Laurent Gbagbo’s government. For instance, the September, 2002, coup attempt against Gbagbo’s government had a remote tracking and insignia of France. Though the coup was foiled, it however, led to a serious civil war between a government-held south and a rebel-held north, in a nation that was once a model of political, economic and social stability in Africa. And in this singular case, France had been accused to have been offering several supports to the rebel groups.

Hence, by November 2004, after a peace agreement, brokered by the international community had effectively collapsed following the rebels’ refusal to disarm which was a major part of the brokered peace agreement, President Laurent Gbagbo had no other viable option but to order sporadic airstrikes against the rebel forces. During one of these airstrikes in the city of Bouaké, one of the rebels strong holds, nine French soldiers were killed and several others wounded. The Ivorian government had claimed that it was an error of omission, but the French had countered by claiming that the action was a deliberate and premeditated one. And in retaliation, the French government had responded by destroying most of Ivoirian military aircrafts.

This was the background picture, of what looked like an epic war movie by the time that the 2010 presidential election in question which has now become a water shed in the history of Ivory Coast was conducted. Precisely, on the 28th of November, 2010, the second round of the presidential election was held. Four days later the (CEI), Ivory Coast Election Commission declared Alassane Ouattara, as the winner of the just concluded Ivorian election, with about 54.1 percent of the total votes cast. However, Gbagbo’s party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) complained of fraud, a claim that was immediately disputed by international election observers. Few days later, the Constitutional Council, nullified the CEI’s declaration based on voting fraud, and excluded votes from certain northern areas of the country and overseas votes from France. The Constitutional Council concluded that without these votes Gbagbo won with 51% percent of the remaining vote.

Concomitantly therefore, Gbagbo was sworn in for another five-years term of office, while Ouattera also took a parallel oath of office, based on earlier pronunciation by the CEI that he had convincingly won the election. The international community including the African Union recognized Ouattera as the duly elected president. While, ECOWAS, also recognized Ouattera and demanded Gbagbo to immediately cede power to Ouattera .ECOWAS has since sent a delegation which included three Head of states to make their resolution known to Gbagbo, calling on him to respect the will of the people or be forced out.

However, the ‘Quit or be forced out’ salvo from ECOWAS leaders could be said to be a convenient way of doing the bidding and interest of known and unknown Western powers and multinational corporations. Like a puppet on a string pulled by a well tutored puppeteer, the ECOWAS’ leaders had offered Gbagbo, the option of going into exile in any neighboring West African country or face an imminent use of ‘legitimate’ force. Talking about going into exile, Gbagbo should not forget in any hurry that similar ‘carrot’ was dangled before Charles Taylor, in order to gently ease him out of Liberia and in the end, a simple protocol of agreement between him(Taylor) and the international community was betrayed and breached few years after.

Without much ado, it is obvious that, there is a wide spread international gang up against Gbagbo, a man that would go down in history as a scapegoat by the virtue of the application of a novel idea that conform to a new world order of international meddling in the affairs of a sovereign nation. This is because, in the past the world had folded its arms as similar elections were cancelled in Algeria and Nigeria in the 1990s.In the case of the latter, the winner of such election, widely adjudged as free and fair, even by the international community and local observers, was hounded into jail, and thereby spending the next four years not in the state house but behind solitary confinement .And under the able watch of the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Anan and the United States ,National Security Advisor(NSA) Condoleezza Rice, the winner was eventually and systematically eliminated, when he refused to let go of his ‘sacred mandate ‘ .In Zimbabwe and Kenya ,similar election related issues had surfaced, but outright use of force was never at any moment of the ensuing conflagrations considered. Instead, consultations, diplomacy, ‘give and take ‘ principles were adopted. Even, the United States, a developed society and a global world power faced similar ugly contest during the election of November, 2000.The court and not the electorates decided the eventual winner, superior reasoning, utmost patience, and profound sportsmanship were adopted and not the use of force.

Why Gbagbo’s case is any different from the afore-mentioned, well known examples is yet to be known, beyond the fact that Gbagbo had stepped on the toes of his country’s one time ‘imperial lord ‘ . However, as his country teeters on the brink of collapse, the onus is on President Laurent Gbagbo to unite Ivoirians and save his country from itself. And, as a professor of history, Gbagbo should know what is best for him, his people and his country. By now he ought to have known what befell other African leaders before him, most especially those that wittingly crossed paths with the Western world; Idi Amin, Thomas Sankara, Sanni Abacha,Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor, Robert Mugabe among several others and the fate that befell them.

However, as the drums of war and the worst case scenario are being drummed from all quarters and vested interests, the common man on the streets of Ivory Coast are surely the pawns in this theater of war of friction and attrition, and direct victims of what would eventually happen within the next few days, if reasons and diplomacy give way to full scale use of force.

Gbagbo ,Has ruled his country since 2000, in his time and by his terms, employing tactically at various points in time various tricks and gambits that many head of states could have dread to unleash, his iconoclasm resonates loudly more than his words, this is the indispensable benefits of being one’s own man but for all these he must face all the lions put together in the jungle of international double dealing, double standard and treachery.

In other words, Laurent Gbagbo seemed to have dined with the devil with a very short spoon, and he must be ready to face whatever follows. This is the way and fate of all the iconoclastic warrior-kings that came bef

ore him, now is his turn.

Written by
Shola Adebowale
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