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Features

Ivory Coast: Understanding the present conflict

Toure Moussa Zeguen

2012-10-17, Issue 602

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/84816

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‘We are victims of an imperialist war to rob our land, belongings and our dignity as a people’.

There are many understandings of the real causes of the war that has been raging in Cote d'Ivoire since 19 September 2002. Some have made arguments of xenophobia against non-Ivorian Africans; others have tried to accuse former president Laurent Gbagbo of being the enemy number one of Muslims no matter where they come from. None of the white supremacists and their media has ever tried to show the real causes of their permanent support for Ouattara Dramane Allassane, the new president who was put into power on 11 April 2011 after a military coup planned and executed by the French armed forces along with the United Nations and its soldiers based in the country supposedly to bring peace and unity among our peoples.

In order to begin to understand what is going on, it is necessary to start by stating that Cote d'Ivoire (or Ivory Coast as it is still known to some) has always been a country of hospitality, brotherhood and sisterhood to many, both from the African continent and other regions of the world such as Europe and the Americas. Indeed, it is very well known that the Ivoirian population has for long included more than 30 per cent of the nationals of many other countries. And we have always been happy living with them for long.

Let us emphasize that the former colonial masters of Cote d'Ivoire, the French, never really let the country totally free since the declaration of independence on 7 August 1960 under Felix Houphouet-Boigny, the proclaimed founding father who remained the firmest ally of the French and the local operator of their neo-colonial ruling machine until his death. The French have had the total control of the country in terms of policies and day-to-day management of its affairs during the regime of not only Houphouet-Boigny but also Henri Konan Bedie who in 1993 constitutionally succeeded the first president. In fact Cote d'Ivoire and its bordering countries have all been so artificially designed in accordance with the colonial decision of European imperialist powers that the indigenous peoples, nationalities and communities arbitrarily divided by such foreign partitions had no choice but to keep living in and travelling from one part to another of the West African sub-region as freely as they could make it themselves. It is also well known that the Ivorian territory is very popular with many of the peoples in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Ghana, among others, because of its fertile land, rich forests and plantations of cocoa and coffee. Many farm-workers, the majority of whom come from Burkina Faso, have helped Cote d'Ivoire to become the world's leading producer of cocoa and third producer of coffee.

With the economic and financial crisis of the 1980s, the IMF imposed upon African countries hard policies called structural adjustments programs, often together with the imposition of their own favourites as so-called technocratic prime ministers and other cabinet ministers. This is how Ouattara, who had been working with the IMF and in the BECAO, the central banking institution of the Francophone countries as a national of Burkina Faso, was imposed to the liking of former president Houphouet Boigny in order, according to them, to rescue our economy.

I must also recall that at those times the first president had a great deal of problems trying to convince the hierarchy of the former ruling party PDCI to accept Ouattara because the overwhelming majority felt he should have never been involved in the topmost rungs of government in Cote d'Ivoire because he was a national of Burkina Faso. This is why there is the widespread belief among Ivorian people that the worst and biggest mistake of the ‘founding father’ was to accept the imposition of an outsider without any commitment to our people to become our prime minister.

Moreover, Ouattara is, in fact, a Western puppet. Since he became a prominent figure in Cote d'Ivoire, the policies imposed upon our people compelled the selling of a large part of the country's publicly owned companies and strategic bodies from a wide range of sectors such as agriculture, mining and energy. Cuts in the budgets and the administration of educational institutions, along with the nation-wrecking privatisation policies that have worsened the economic and financial crises that he had been appointed to tackle, very badly weakened our condition. Wages were cut, enterprises were closed down and even some big strategic companies like the ones in charges of the supply of electricity and water were freely given to French corporations and individuals without any explanation to the people and without the sick and very old president Houphouet-Boigny being in a position to account for anything.

Notably, Allassane Ouattara was the first to impose an unprecedented new fee for foreign nationals, including even West Africans belonging to the ECOWAS, in order to be permitted to legally live in Cote d'Ivoire as a way for him to extort money by hook or crook for the IMF-prescribed solution of the crisis facing the country. Even in those times already Laurent Gbagbo, from a standpoint influenced by Pan-Africanism, opposed this decision to impose such a divisive policy.

Ouattara who was prime minister until the sudden death of Houphouet Boigny on 7 December 1993 showed his first signs of violating constitutional democratic procedures and threatening the stability of the country by refusing to resign as prime minister in order to allow a transition that would enable the chair of the National Parliament of that time, Konan Bedie, to assume office of head of state without problems. Fortunately, Gbagbo was vigilant enough to stand firmly for fair play and to remind to the entire Ivorian population at that time that we must all respect the constitution and should therefore let the legitimate successor Bedie assume office without contestation.

Bedie's period in the office as President of Cote d'Ivoire was a time of peace and freedom for Ouattara who had to return to the IMF where he was appointed as deputy director. Bedie, who knew the young Burkinabe student Ouatara when he was the Ivorian ambassador in USA, could never accept the fact that Ouattara wanted to be a presidential contestant against him in 1995. It must be remembered that at that time Ouattara had clearly accepted the decision that he could not be a presidential candidate because the law of the country did not allow him to stand. And from that period, Ouattara decided to bring stark brutal violence into Ivorian politics.

He had boasted a lot of times before the so-called military coup d'etat of December 1999 that he would have beaten that regime of Bedie up to his collapse. He had tried in vain to convince Ivorians later that the regime was preventing him from becoming a presidential candidate because he is a northerner and Muslim, something I described as one of the most dangerous lies ever peddled for selfish political ambition in the entire history of Cote d'Ivoire. Being from the north-west, particularly from Touba, I was aware of the intentions of this colonially indoctrinated ally of the imperialist powers of the West that were looking for an African puppet to help them achieve their sinister purposes in our mother country: devide and exploit!

The coup d'etat of General Guei, which hapened on 24 December 1999 was, in reality, planned and executed by soldiers close to Allassane Ouattara and with the backing of French power during the era of Jacques Chirac, one of the stubborn upholders of the dangerous system called the Francafrique. There are thousands of pieces of evidence that Ouattara declared in the airplane he took when going back to Cote d'Ivoire from France soon after the military coup d'etat that he was going to take power and gave many glasses of Champagne to other passengers in the plane to celebrate with him.

He could have never imagined how big was his mistake because General Guei himself was very much interested in keeping the power for himself. This is how again Ouattara decided to reorganise his international campaign based on deceptive arguments about his affiliation when the Constitutional Court banned him again to stand during the presidential election of October 2000 by claiming that Ouattara was not eligible. The Americans and French all know that he went to university and worked later at the IMF and BECEAO as a national of Burkina Faso. It is a matter of fact not speculation.

The most important point that needs to be grasped in this connection from the principled standpoint of pan-Africanism is the refusal of the opportunist likes of Allassane Dramane Ouattara to openly declare their original places of birth and argue in defence of African Unity for recognition to freely participate in the politics of whichever country of the continent or diaspora they would like to involve themselves, rather than to falsify their personal details as and when it suits their selfish ambitions and even worse, mainly in order to fulfil anti-people tasks, even with nation-wrecking bloody, reactionary violence, in the mercenary service of imperialism as the modern Trojan horse-riding quislings of neo-colonialism prepared to work without any iota of conscience, for the recolonization of Africa!

The victorious candidate of the 2000 election, President Laurent Gbagbo, came to power following a popular uprising, after leading the masses in foiling the attempt of Guei to confiscate power after his defeat at the election. The same Ouattara who did not even take part in the voting tried again, in vain, to send his supporters onto the streets to prevent Gbagbo from effectively governing the country. The new enemy of the imperialist-fabricated ‘international community’ was now Laurent Gbagbo whom they never accepted as the legitimate president of Cote d'Ivoire. With his new way of defining the relations with the colonial French masters, Gbagbo was presented in the Western media as a populist or nationalist leader who did not like foreigners while he was asking for justice and equity and real freedom for us.

He wanted our relations with the Western establishment to be as fair as possible even while they had total control over our raw materials and other resources. In reality Gbagbo wanted to change the old system of Houphouet-Boigny according to which the land belonged to those who had seized it with colonial reactionary violence and exploited without any respect for the rights of the original indigenous owners. The new laws being drafted, openly debated and voted for by the Ivorian parliament upon the initiative of President Gbagbo were an additional cause for the French imperialists to back Ouattara into organising a new coup d'etat which failed and became a civil war from 19 September 2002. This new rebellion was automatically backed by Western powers, the UN and their machinery which never condemned the cabal of the rebellion led by Soro Guillaume, IB, Watao, Cherif Ousmane, Konate Siriki, CMDT Fofie and their friends who benefited from the lavish help of Allassane Ouattara, their main international fund-raiser.

Since the very beginning of the war, the western part of Cote d'Ivoire from which an important quantity of our cocoa and coffee is produced was under the control of the rebels who used to trade our produce via Burkina Faso all these years. The Ivorian mining sector was under foreign control via the same Burkina Faso because of the nefarious role played by its President Blaise Compaore, who is the most effective supporter of Ouattara Allassane in West Africa, along with the former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade. The division of our territory since 19 September 2002 was beneficial to French and American companies and others who exploit our gold, diamond, cocoa and coffee at the expense of our impoverished population abandoned in the hands of the rebels and their foreign funders like Zomcom, Cargill, Amajaro Negoce, ADM Cocoa Sista, Barrow Cadbury, etc.

It must be strongly emphasized that the largest number of the soldiers used by Ouattara and Soro were mercenaries from Burkina Faso who gained a lot from this imperialist proxy war in Cote d'Ivoire. Having proved his gangster credentials of a loyal quisling by callously murdering the heroic pan-Africanist founder of Burkina Faso, Captain Thomas Sankara, the bloody usurper Blaise Compaore became the new puppet-in-chief of French imperialism in West Africa after the death of Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who used to be counterposed to President Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.

From the beginning until now, there is a massive resettlement of thousands, if not millions, of nationals of Burkina Faso who are being moved deceptively into our forests, mainly in the western and the southern areas of Cote d'Ivoire, in order to populate these regions with newly relocated residents who will be used later as fake Ivorian voters for the coming elections in our country to ensure for Ouattara an easy victory against any other Ivorian candidate. Such newly resettled migrants are also supposed to work for free or at the cheapest in starvation wages for the multinational corporations because Ouattara promised to reward them at the most opportune time with Ivorian lands and forest resources.

The prolonging Ivorian crisis has to be explained to all truth-seeking Africans and other peoples in quest of freedom, justice and sustainable world development, particularly all those seeing themselves as freedom fighters for global justice, so that we can all understand the Nazi-type big lies and genocidal and ecocidal plots of Euro-American imperialism and its Western capitalist networks and their puppets of all hues and shades who have been bloodily plundering Africa since the era of Chattel and colonial enslavement.

We must clearly state that Nicolas Sarkozy and his friend Hussein Barak Obama manipulated the UN and forced Laurent Gbagbo to organise the presidential elections of the year 2011 without any disarmament from Soro's rebels, in spite of their agreement during the Ouagadougou summits to do so before the general elections. We are convinced that despite all this, Laurent Gbagbo easily won the first round of the election, as was legally endorsed in accordance with the Ivorian Constitutional Court decision which was accepted by all parties involved, even initially by the UN. But the second round was violently disrupted and the elections in the northern, western and eastern regions were disturbed when Ouattara and his rebels realised, since the morning of the second round, that Bedie's supporters were not reporting their votes like they had been expecting. For, many of Bedie's supporters refused even to go to vote for somebody they knew to be not a legitimate Ivorian.

There are many pieces of credible evidence that Gbagbo’s representatives were beaten, chased and even more violently kept far away from the ballot boxes so that Soro's soldiers could put as much votes as they wanted in the ballot boxes. At the end in some areas, Ouattara had more votes than the total number of the population registered on the official electoral lists. The Electoral Commission led by Youssouf Bakayoko, which should have declared the results within three working days, failed to do so within the constitutionally stipulated period. This is why the Constitutional Court led by Professor Yao Paul Ndre had to give the final results according to the stipulations of the Ivorian Constitution. The victory of Laurent Gbagbo was clear and without any justifiable contestation because the law had been followed to its letter and spirit.

But this was unacceptable to the French colonial master who had to impose its puppet known as Ouattara. Unfortunately, the American and other Western ambassadors kidnapped the president of the Electoral Commission 24 hours after, took him to the electoral campaign headquarters of Allassane Ouattara where he declared before their own selected international media, without any respect for our Ivorian Constitution, Ouattara, their favourite candidate, as the newly elected president of our country. What a shame for Africa! This is the truth and the sad situation of our continent as it actually is in today. They ignored the violence organised by the Forces Nouvelles everywhere in the north. They ignored the irregularities that happened.

In response to all these plots, misbehaviour and shameful attitudes of the so-called international community, Laurent Gbagbo only responded by asking them to recount the votes in order to show the world community how much he believes in democracy and freedom. He just wanted to make sure all humanity sees what was the truth about the Ivorian elections. The UN Secretary-General shamefully responded that it was unfair to the Ivorian people to recount the votes. They already had their own Solution: to use their guns, their planes and killing machines to attack our country. They bombarded the presidential palace, helped the rebels to kill our population from the north to the south and on their way they organised the Guere genocide in the region of Duekoue where more than 800 people of the Guere ethnicity were killed on the same day. Some of these killings are clearly identified by various pieces of evidence from videos to pictures and testimonies of living victims.

By this way they wanted to stop the struggle of the masses of our African people in Cote d'Ivoire under the leadership of those who know clearly what is the nature of our common enemy. Yes our enemy includes the French colonial/neocolonial power as part of European imperialism under the hegemony of the United States of America, which is dispossessing, super-exploiting and murderously oppressing African workers, peasant-farmers, mostly unemployed youths, underprivileged women and other ‘Wretched of the Earth’ around the globe. Our struggle everywhere is the same, now more so as imperialism and its reactionary forces of neoliberal capitalism are adding even worse crimes of ecocide to those of genocide and threatening not just humanity and biodiversity but also the entirety of our very dearest planet, Mother Earth!

Finally, I invite all Africans around the world to wake and stand up because since the eras of Chattel and colonial enslavement up to the current phase of neo-colonialism today, it is obvious that nothing substantial has changed but rather it is even becoming worse. They use their media, their financial and other powers to do more openly with impunity today what they used to hide before. Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Muammar Gaddafi and many others of our martyred heroes and sheroes ought not to have been killed for nothing. We must better learn, reorganise and fight in principled unity for the total liberation of the continent and diaspora of Africa now!

We Ivorians who have fled from our country since the bloody French coup d'etat of 11 April 2011 are calling upon all freedom fighters, especially those upholding revolutionary pan-Africanism and championing global justice for all, to respond with solidarity actions which raise our pan-African banners of Ivorian resistance in their own battles as we are preparing to raise higher their banners in our own battles within and outside Cote d'Ivoire. Let us strive to better study, understand and support each other’s struggles for freedom, justice and peace so as to completely liberate our homelands from the stranglehold of inimical foreign powers and the entrapments and other deceptive guises of their anti-people puppets even within our own midst who get so corrupted as to throw away all dignity.

These traitors want to give away our land and our other precious resources, facilitate the wanton devastation of our environment and even sell their own dignity to imperialists and their foreign institutions and predators who are bent upon even more violently genocidal and ecocidal schemes for the recolonization of Africa in order to prolong moribund capitalism even beyond our Earth into space, because it can no longer be sustained profitably in their selfish interests.

We therefore urge all peoples of conscience to help us stop the Ouattara killing machine which is still putting us in jail, occupying our lands, forests and houses without any substantial protestations from the so-called international community. It is because the fake president Ouattara has nothing to share with the Ivorians that he keeps on killing us, ill-treating us up to today, nearly two years since his bloody foreign imposition upon our homeland. We know that our dignity remains in our struggle. Our future prosperity depends upon our permanent struggle. We believe in authentic pan-Africanism which champions global justice for all but we hate all sorts of traitors who betray our homeland and the entire continent and diaspora of Africa and our dearest Mother Earth.

We share the suffering and resistance of our people and want to share the struggles of all African and Black peoples and of all other ‘Wretched of the Earth"!

The struggle must continue untill our certain victory throughout a completely liberated, unified and peoples' empowering Africa in a peacefully just world!

We shall by all necessary means win!

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* Brother Toure Moussa Zeguen is a pan-Africanist Ivorian in exile. zeguenonvci@gmail.com


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