Ivory Coast ( Côte d’Ivoire)

Updates on the situation will be registered in post with the category ‘Ivory Coast’.

New Year’s Day, 2011 update.
Update Jan 5, 2011
Update Mrch 3, 2011, Six female demonstrators shot dead, electricity and water shut down in the north. UN fears civil war.

This information is taken from an interview that Democracy Now conducted with Horace Campbell, Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Syracuse University.

Recent history:
The incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, has refused to leave office after the elections held in November. The U.N., the European Union, the United States, the African Union and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS all say that opposition leader Alassane Ouattara won the November 28 vote. The president of ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States) has threatened to use force to remove Gbagbo if he refuses to cede the presidency to Ouattara.

According to a report on the BBC military action by ECOWAS may not be in the cards as Nigeria is about to hold elections and military action would not be popular and the type of military equipment needed for such an action is lacking.

Quoting Professor Campbell:

“…we have a situation where the person who has lost the election, Laurent Gbagbo, is refusing to step down. And in the process of refusing to step down, he and those around him, they are invoking all forms of xenophobia and hostility to people from the north in order to divide the country. Thankfully, the days when Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were places that could provide the mercenaries so that Gbagbo could develop war, thankfully, we are in the state of transition in Sierra Leone, in Liberia and Guinea so that the possibility for war will be dependent on the extent to which Gbagbo can get support from persons like Lanny Davis in the United States and the bankers and financial elements within the country that will finance his army. ….

What we have to do in this country, we have, in this country, to call on Hillary Clinton to distance herself from Lanny Davis, who has been employed by Gbagbo to lobby for him in Washington to present the government as a transparent and democratic government.”

LSW last wrote about Lanny Davis in connection with the coup in Honduras. He was/is a lobbyist for fractions supporting the coup. Professor Campbell says that Davis is connected to the Clinton faction of the Democratic Party and LSW quotes at length because it is important to get this (the reader is left to fill in the adjective) out into public light:

“It’s the Clinton faction of the Democratic Party politics. And he has been an adviser to Bill Clinton, and he remains close to the Clintons. Lanny Davis has a lobbying firm. Right now he’s employed by one of the worst dictators in Africa, the Nguema clique, that has ruled Equatorial Guinea for 30 years. This is a government that has vast wealth from oil companies, whose children own mansions in California, where banks in Washington, D.C. holds money that should be used for water supplies and health for the people of Equatorial Guinea. Now, this government, Equatorial Guinea, employed Lanny Davis, who’s a lobbyist in Washington, to present an image of these dictators in Equatorial Guinea that could be sold to the corporate elements in the United States of America.”

Salon writes that “Lanny Davis has dropped the account of Laurent Gbagbo, the embattled Ivory Coast leader who was paying Davis $100,000 per month to advocate for him in Washington.”

Background on Ivory Coast
The president of the Ivory Coast, Houphouët-Boigny, when the country attained its independence, made the Ivory Coast a base for counter-revolution in Africa, and allowed the forces of French colonialism, exploitation and militarism to converge in the Ivory Coast and was a base for the support of apartheid in South Africa and of Savimbi in Angola.

As a result of intense investment in the country many people from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana, came to work on the banana and cocoa plantations, with the result that many people who live in the north of the country have ancestors who were migrant workers.

When Houphouët-Boigny died in 1993, Ouattara was the prime minister but the Supreme Court issued a judgement that people from the north were not Ivorian citizens. Ouattara’s mother was supposedly from Burkina Faso, was not allowed to stand for the presidency.

Between 2000 and 2004 there was a civil war because a general, who was head of the army, did not allow Gbagbo to be president after Gbagbo won an election that he himself ran. The civil war brought on the intervention by the African Union and South Africa.

LSW thinks that the following is key to gaining at least a superficial understanding of the present situation and thus quotes directly from Prof. Campbell:

“…the African Union worked to overturn that judgment of the Supreme Court that said that persons from the north could not be citizens.

And this idea is a sentiment that is whipped up in the country called Ivority. Ivority is a chauvinistic notion. It is an anti-pan-African notion. It’s a notion that says only those who are Christian from the southern area of the country can be citizens. Now, this is not something that is carried by the majority of the citizens of the Ivory Coast; this is an idea that is whipped up by the elements of the Ivorian capitalist class. These are Ivorians who have made millions of dollars out of cocoa plantation, out of exploiting the workers in the Ivory Coast.”