Apparently, Former Ivorian President Laurent Ggagbo’s administration spokesperson Ahoua Don Mello recently read a statement on Ivorian state television accusing foreign journalists of being “quick to voluntarily disseminate false information” about Ggagbo and his loyalist military’s operations, which include the firing of shells on a market in the Abidjan suburb of Abobo last Thursday (17 march 2011). Abobo is a stronghold of the internationally recognised Ivorian president Alassanne Ouattara.
Now this is really shocking stuff. Since he lost the election in November 2010, Ggagbo has blamed every one except himself for his defeat, including foreigners who illegally voted- he says. Since then, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the international community at large have announced that they recognise Alassanne Ouattara as the legitimate president of the Ivory Coast- now, Mr Ggagbo wants to blame foreign journalists for all his political ills.
Somebody needs to unequivocally tell Mr Ggagbo that the game is up; that he has lost the political war, and that he needs to respect that 440 Ivorian lives that have been lost since the beginning of this standoff- why should anyone else die? Really, what is he thinking? It seems as if he is suffering from some pathological disorder of paranoia which leads him to believe that everyone except himself is to blame for his current quandary.
The current situation in Libya is nothing short of terrible. We cannot be sure of the exact numbers, but we can expect that thousands of lives have been lost in that conflict, and that hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. Furthermore, there is speculation that the Libyan conflict might drag on for months. This should demonstrate to all the radicals that just because Mubarak and Ben Ali stepped down relatively peacefully, it does not mean that all leaders will follow suit. But in the context of Ivory Coast, we must all appreciate that by stepping down relatively peacefully, the former presidents of Tunisia and Egypt avoided anymore unnecessary bloodshed in their respective countries, and ultimately, they respected the sanctity of their citizen’s lives. Former president Ggagbo needs to respect Ivorian lives, even if he won’t listen to ECOWAS, AU, and generally the whole world. His current resolution to selfishly cling to power without the blessings of the West African region, the African continent and the wider world is not only sadistically self-centred- it is an embarrassment to Africa at large.
Although this writer does not think that the protests in Egypt and Tunisia achieved their desired results, and although this writer does not believe it is necessary for similar uprisings to occur South of the Sahara- given the greater potential for loss of African lives- it must however be said that a true leader seeks to preserve the lives of his or her citizens, and not to destroy the population by, for example, shelling the marketplace of Abobo.
Now, the Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan is apparently lobbying the United Nations (UN) to take tougher action against the Ivory Coast. Currently, there are already UN peacekeepers in that country, and the cocoa industry has been sanctioned. So tougher action is nothing short of invasion, which means the loss of more African lives- more women widowed and more children orphaned- and for what? Laurent Ggagbo’s ego?
Surely Sun Tzu is proven right when he says “When your weapons are dulled and ardour dampened, your strength exhausted and treasure spent, the chieftains of neighbouring states will take advantage of your crisis to act. In that case, no man, however wise, will be able to avert the disastrous consequences that ensue. Thus, while we have heard of stupid haste in war, we have not yet seen a clever operation that was prolonged. For there has never been a protracted war which benefited a country.”
Mr Ggagbo, please step down!
Tau Tawengwa is Secretary General of Zimbabwe Renaissance Society.