On The Crises In La Cote d' Ivoire

We as Africans need to take decisive action on issues of electoral disputes and malpractices because they are becoming just too many. As of now it is only the President of Botswana who has spoken out concerning the electoral dispute in Cote de I’voire. Why is it that the rest of the African leaders have not been able to speak out boldly on this issue? They have all done it before. They have all in one way or the other denied winning candidates from taking over. Blaise Campaore came to power in 1986 and has done everything to entrench himself in office so how can anybody rely on this man to talk about democracy or contribute towards finding solutions to the problem in La Cote de I’voire? The whole world is witness to how the current President of Nigeria, Jonathan Goodluck and his late boss Umaru Musa Yar’adua were smuggled into office, yet these are the men who want to tell us whether one has won elections fairly or not.”
Time must not be wasted in finding solutions to the electoral dispute in La Cote de I’voire, else there might be an escalation of the tension in the country and violence might follow. Both parties must come together and find an amicable solution to the problem without any interference by the international community. Gbagbo and Alhassan might all have very good reasons for believing they have won the elections but in the interest of the Ivorian people, I ask that they iron out their differences and ensure that peace prevails. I also call for a review of the constitution of Cote de I’voire especially the part which talks about the structure and mandate of the electoral commission. The constitutional council must not be the one to declare elections and determine who has won. I say this because of announcements by the BBC and the other mediums that Gbagbo had changed the membership of the council a few weeks before the elections and the obvious implication is that they are likely to do things to favour the sitting President which would go against the tenets of freedom of choice.
I am in full support of the action taken by the Constitutional Committee in declaring President Gbagbo the winner of the elections. Why is everyone, especially the international community trying to rubbish and put aside constitutional provisions which stipulates how elections must be run in that country? The action of the electoral commission of Cote de I’voire amounted to treason and we must see it as such. If for whatever reason they couldn’t declare the provisional results of the elections within three days what prevented them from going to the court to ask for an extension of the time so they could do a proper tabulation of the electoral results? What prompted them to contradict the constitution by declaring half baked results after the process had been taken over by the Constitutional Committee? The choice of the people must be made to prevail. If Gbagbo won, then Gbagbo must govern.”
I initially had some difficulty in understanding what was taking place in La Cote de I’voire with respect to the constitution. It states that the electoral commission would conduct election and declare provisional results three days after the elections has been held. The constitutional commission then would then decide on the candidate who has won the election whilst the Chief Justice does the swearing in of the elected President. In Ghana the electoral commission organizes the elections and declares the winner whilst the Chief Justice swears in the elected President. There is no constitutional Committee and even the courts only come in when there is an electoral dispute. I am of the view that the international community must now step in and help with the settlement of the dispute that has arisen after the elections. I wouldn’t recommend ECOWAS because their intervention in electoral disputes have only aggravated the problem. They all have particular candidates they support in disputes so there is always some mistrust in the camp of the other party in the dispute. What were they able to do in Liberia and Sierra-Leone?

I must say many of us have not followed closely the issues surrounding the elections of La Cote de I’voire and we risk taking uninformed positions on this matter. It was after listening to the submissions of Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Managing Editor of the Insight Newspaper on Alhaji and Alhaji this Saturday that I had a clearer understanding of what exactly took place in La Cote de’I voire. Before then I did not know about the blatant rigging of election in the North of that country and all one could hear on BBC and on the other media outlets was that Laurent Gbagbo had lost elections and was refusing to concede defeat to Ouattara. How can one accept an election where in some instance more than a hundred thousand votes have been added to the votes of the opposition candidate Alhassan Ouattara? How many of the people asking Gbagbo to concede defeat would have done so if they had found their long foot in his shoes?  Why is the so called international community not interested in the evidence of electoral malpractices in strong holds of the opposition candidate, Alhassan Ouattara? Perhaps they have not woken up to the fact that they can no longer impose their stooges as leaders on us any longer.”

I do not know the modus operandi of the electoral commission of La Cote de I’voire but what I can say is that so long as the commission could not declare the provisional results within the three days as stipulated by the constitution, I would not blame the Constitutional committee for coming out to declare Gbagbo the winner of the election that was held recently in that country. Alhassan Ouattara prior to the elections had recognized the structure put in place to organize the election, so if after all said and done, they have come out to declare Gbagbo the winner, why is he refusing to accept the decision of the Constitutional Committee? I wish to also say that measures must be put in place to reform certain aspects of the Ivorian constitution which might lead to unnecessary conflicts. The situation where you have three different state institutions determining the outcome of elections is not healthy and that part of the constitution must be amended”
In so far as the international community is backing Ouattara, I ask Gbagbo to step down. Calling for power sharing is not healthy. It is not likely to get the co-operation of the other camp. The notion of power sharing which is gaining currency in the politics of Africa must be discouraged before it becomes a norm. A lot happened during the election and Gbagbo might have a good reason for believing the elections were rigged in favour of Ouattara. This is why I believe Ouattara must stop sending signals of retaliation when he is properly sworn in as President. This attitude can cause fear in the administration of Gbagbo which might further strengthen them in refusing to hand-over.”
I was supporting Ouattara when the electoral dispute broke but I had no option than to change my stance after having tuned in to radio Gold’s Alhaji and Alhaji Saturday programme. Gbagbo did not declare himself or swear himself into power but it was the constitution which gave him that mandate and we must accept that as a fact. The impression has been created that the Constitutional Committee hijacked but that is not what happened. It was the inability of the Electoral Commission to pronounce provisional results which paved the way for the Constitutional Commission to do what they had to do under the given circumstances. The Electoral Commission must be blamed for what is happening in La Cote de I’voire. Let me also say that there is the need for a certain streamlining of the actual institution responsible for the declaration of elections.” 


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