Monday, November 29, 2004

Follow-Up III: Outrageous Intolerable Incitement - More Gbagbo

In an interview published today in the Senegalese paper Le Soleil [link in French], Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo had the following to say about the de facto partition of the Ivory Coast into a rebel-controlled north and a government-controlled south:

...What does the partition of the country mean? I say that those who have led us into this partition of the country have made a mistake.... The institutions of the country are all functioning. It is necessary to see to it that their effects apply to the totality of Ivorian territory. It is at the interior of the Ivory Coast and within the framework of its institutions that we can try to treat the country’s ills. Coming from the exterior, if anyone proposes solutions to me that do not fit within our institutions, I say in advance “no”. Because this [implementing such solutions] would be the most certain manner of bringing about the death of this country, and by extension of all other African states.... Many think that what is happening in our country only concerns us Ivorians. But it is an African problem. My obligation is to explain to the people of the African continent [devant l’Afrique] my attitude in this war. Yes, the country is partitioned. I want this partition to end. I’ll try all possible methods to bring this about. But at the same time I insist that the solution be found within our institutions, within the rules that the Ivorians have given to themselves.

It should be noted that representatives of the Ivorian military, which at least before most of the Ivorian air force was destroyed in a French attack on November 6 enjoyed a clear advantage over the rebel forces, have accused France of preventing the re-establishment of the territorial integrity of the Ivory Coast.

Put under pressure by France, in January 2003 the Ivorian government entered into what is, in effect, a power-sharing agreement with the rebel forces: the so-called Marcoussis accords. Reports in the French press at the time suggested that French government officials – then Minister of Foreign Affairs Dominique De Villepin was mentioned in particular – threatened to prosecute Laurent Gbagbo or, respectively, his wife Simone before the International Criminal Court if he did not agree to the proposed accords. (I discuss the episode, as well as the, to put it mildly, “ambivalent” – if not to say, hypocritical – attitude of France toward the ICC in my article “A Lawless Global Court”). On the Marcoussis accords, Laurent Gbagbo had the following to say in his interview with Le Soleil:

Yes, I am applying Marcoussis, even if I find that it is a bad document. Indeed, it is even a dangerous document…. [I] say that it is dangerous and bad so that all Africans will understand that this should be the last time that Africans, instead of solving their problems among themselves, go looking for solutions from the exterior – and then one asks them to change their rules with a gun pointed at their heads. This is unacceptable from the point of view of law and, above all, from the point of view of dignity.