The Ivory Coast: An Uncertain Future

Laurent Gbagbo is making a last stand and warning that any attempt to use force to remove him from power could start a civil war in the country. He apparently told France’s Le Figaro newspaper yesterday that no one can trample on Ivory Coast’s laws and constitution. Considering that almost everyone in the world recognises his rival Allassane Ouattara as the true winner of the elections held on November 28, one can only assume that no one can trample on Ivory Coast’s laws and constitution except him.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has previously threatened to use force to get Gbagbo to leave. According to reports, on Tuesday a delegation from ECOWAS will arrive to offer Mr Gbagbo one final opportunity to make a peaceful exit. They were not coming to negotiate but to offer Mr Gbagbo a dignified way out.

Ouattara has called for a general strike beginning today, Monday, December 27, to force the incumbent out of power. This comes amid mounting pressure by the international community on the defiant Gbagbo to step down.

The Ivory Coast’s Independent Electoral Commission declared Ouattara the winner but its Constitutional Council invalidated those results and said Gbagbo won.

Despite the upheaval, the army is remaining loyal to Gbagbo which is considered the main reason why he has been able to defy calls to step down. However, if ECOWAS makes good on its threat to step in, will the army continue to support a leader that many in the country and most outside the country do not see as the official winner of the November 28 elections? Adding to Gbagbo’s problems, the West African regional central bank has cut his access to funds which will make it difficult if not impossible for him to continue to pay the wages of the soldiers who back him. The Central Bank of West African States, or BCEAO, has supposedly given control over state reserves to Alassane Ouattara whom the bank acknowledges as Ivory Coast’s president.

It has been reported that since the beginning of the crisis over 170 have been killed. As well as clashes between the rival sides in this political fight for the presidency, there have been accusations of masked groups from the Gbagbo camp hauling people away in the night. Gbagbo has demanded the U.N. Peacekeepers leave the country and is refusing to let human-rights monitors probe any reports of wrong doing.

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