Monday, November 29, 2004

Follow-Up II: Outrageous Intolerable Incitement – "Sedition"

Still on the subject of the Ivory Coast crisis, Adam at Free Will cites a Reuters report :

ABIDJAN/OUGADOUGOU, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast angrily pulled out of a summit of French-speaking countries on Friday after police in the host nation Burkina Faso confiscated CDs and documents from the minister leading its delegation.

African Integration Minister Theodore Mel Eg said the CDs containing images of recent violence in the West African state and his speech were seized after his bags were searched upon arrival in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou on Thursday.

The summit, which opened on Friday, will focus on the latest crisis in Ivory Coast....

It is interesting to note that Agence France Press (AFP) in reporting the same episode, and without mentioning the images, refers to the seized material as "anti-French documents". An unnamed official from Burkina Faso is quoted by AFP describing them, more precisely, as "seditious documents against France" (including a text titled "France's War in the Ivory Coast"). Hardly anything could be more symptomatic of the neo-colonial character of the relation that apparently obtains between France and several of its former African colonies than the odd use of the notion of "sedition" in this context. For sedition is, of course, the crime of fomenting rebellion against a state: which is to say, namely, among its subjects. But last heard neither the citizens of the Ivory Coast nor those of any other African country are subjects of the French state.

The Reuters report further notes:

Frederic Tongo, a senior official at the integration ministry, said Mel Eg had brought the CDs to present the Ivorian government's position on the violence and fend off possible sanctions by other Francophone community members.

Ivorian authorities have accused French soldiers of firing on protesters who staged four days of anti-French riots.

"The Francophone ministers adopted a draft resolution on the crisis in Ivory Coast and this resolution seemed unfavourable to the Ivorian authorities. The integration minister's job was to present Ivory Coast's position and to defend it," Tongo said.

In the absence of the Ivorian representative and following a speech by French president Jacques Chirac, on Saturday the assembled heads of state at the "summit of the francophonie" in Ougadougou unanimously passed a resolution [link in French] condemning the actions of the Ivorian government in the current crisis and threatening sanctions against it.