Shortly after the announcement and subsequent overthrow of the Ivorian election results, rains of bullets and showers of fire balls pyrotechnically greeted the people of Cote d’Ivoire in trepidation, not in celebration of the victory of their candidate but in protest of his apparently fraudulent displacement.
While I agree that it is acceptable to protest and reject obvious or perceived injustice in every form, I nonetheless believe that better ways other than violence exist and must be explored.
In order that we have a firm grasp of the issues that have plagued politics in Cote d’Ivoire in the years past, I advice that we take an eventful expedition into history. No sooner Houphouët-Boigny won his seventh five-year term as President in October 1990 defeating Laurent Gbagbo of the FPI (Front Populaire Ivoirien or Ivorian Popular Front) than he died in office in October 1993. His death left the race ‘open’ between the President of the National Assembly Henri Konan Bédié a Christian southerner (who in the interim had replaced the late Houphouët-Boigny) and Allasane Ouattara, who is a Muslim northerner of the RDR (Rassemblement des Républicains or Rally of Republicans). Bédié ‘legally’ suppressed the opposition by enacting laws that required all public office holders to have one or both parents of Ivorian descent; this in his interpretation sadly tagged most Muslim northerners as ‘foreigners’ including (and most especially) Mr. Ouattara. As a result of this, the RDR among others staged a boycott of the Presidential elections in 1995 thereby giving Bédié a straight victory. He however was overthrown in December 1999 in a bloodless coup due to declining acceptance. The coup principal, General Gueï conducted a constitutional referendum in July 2000 which retained the restrictions that cited Ivorian ancestry which in the consequent, constitutionally barred Ouattara and others from contesting the elections leaving Gueï and Gbagbo to contest the unfairly weighted race. The PDCI (Parti Démocratique de la Côte d’Ivoire or Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire) and the RDR boycotted the elections yet again. As early results indicated that he was on the trail of Gbabo, General Gueï dissolved the electoral commission and declared himself winner. He was not however to enjoy this self-affirmation for long as a popular uprising forced him out of power leading to Gbagbo being sworn-in as the rightful victor. After the ‘smoke’ cleared, 200 people were reported dead. In late 2002, the Civil War that ensued thereafter only fully established the many dissensions that had engulfed the already unstable polity. These historical antecedents you will agree with me were sufficient impetus for business as usual.
For heaven’s sake Mr. Ouattara, the many people whose lives were extinguished prematurely because of the power intoxication of you and Mr. Gbabo were people whom you promised a better life if only they would ‘come all out’ to vote for you. Their blood, bones and skulls putridly and malodorously foul the same street on which they waited endlessly to cast their vote for you in exchange for a ‘better life’. Mr. Ouattara, I beg to ask: What moral right do you have as a fundamentally equal Ivorian citizen to demand power entrusted to you by the people through their votes with the blood of civilians? Does it mean that the power the votes of the people gives to you is more important than the blood running in the fingers that thumb-printed you into power. These are questions pleading for answers. We may be quick to say that time will tell. I strongly believe that time really has nothing to say if the people continue to keep mum. Only the PEOPLE can tell time what it needs to know!
Mass graves have now become archeological artifacts that are now being on a daily basis, discovered and excavated in surrounding parts of Abidjan- hundreds buried in them appalling. Sights and sounds of village scenery have now become those of whistling terror and wailing rhymes. Street sweepers in daily routines clear ‘rubbish’ off the streets- many of which have countless body parts littering the ‘dirt’.
If truly Ouattara is driven by a passion for service to his people devoid of concealed motives, he should have known that no honour exits in demanding by force, power which was given to him by the ballot- no justification! Disappointingly, Ouattara was not alone in this mess. He had the support of their colonial Westerners who seem utterly confused on their roles as big brothers. While I do not in any way support Gbagbo’s refusal to have left willingly, it must be said that Ouattara’s approach was far from being democratic. This Ouattara-kind of democracy is no democracy at all. It must be openly castigated and totally discouraged if democracy is to firmly take it’s foothold on Africa’s leadership soil.
OLANIRAN, Daniel Mayowa © 2011
He is a chemical engineer, leadership coach, and social justice crusader