Beans, But No Chocolate

This is amazing and heart-breaking at the same time.  These farmers grow the beans, but have never tasted the final product – they don’t even know what their crop is used for!

via First taste of chocolate in Ivory Coast – YouTube.

Worst-Case Scenario Comes True

via Ivory Coast: Massacre in the West, Siege in the East | FP Passport.

War has returned to the Ivory Coast in the shape of massacres, mercenaries, a besieged capital, and a humanitarian nightmare. Over the last week, a political deadlock that was by all accounts frozen has become a heated contest on the battlefield. Make no mistake: This was the worst-case scenario mapped out for the Ivory Coast back in November when this crisis began.

Caritas, the Catholic charity, estimates over 1,000 people were massacred in Duékoué, possibly by Ouattara’s men.  This includes children according to the only Westerner in the town:

the BBC’s Andrew Harding  writes that he counted 20 corpses in just one city block, children among them.

Now reports from Abidjan indicate that Gbagbo is using human shields to protect the presidential palace.

Even more worrisome is the fact that residents of thst city are trapped in their homes, unable to buy food and necessities.

Residents of Abidjan today warned that they were running out of phone credit. Water has been cut off to parts of the city, so young women and children are often visible on the streets, scurrying with buckets to fill.

So what happens next?  It’s likely that Gbagbo will be forced out, but that doesn’t mean peace.  The election was close, so if Ouatarra is vengeful, his supporters and opponents could continue the fight.

This is about more than two men’s egos at this point. It’s about a country, back in civil war. And if we’d like to prevent a protracted armed conflict, maybe it’s time to start plotting out options if it comes to that.

Update: from the BBC

UN troops and French helicopter warships have attacked 2 of Gbagbo’s military bases in Abidjan.  According to the news sources the bases were being used to fire mortars and other heavy artillery that was hitting civilian neighborhoods.

Violence Intensifies in Ivory Coast

via BBC News – Ivory Coast: Laurent Gbagbo supporters ‘join army’.

Thousands of supporters of Ivory Coast’s disputed President Laurent Gbagbo have gathered at an army base to enlist, amid fears the crisis could destabilise West Africa.

The young activists were heeding a call to join the army from a key ally of Mr Gbagbo, Charles Ble Goude.

He urged them to fight supporters of Alassane Ouattara, widely recognised as the winner of last year’s elections.

The conflict is certain to escalate, and possibly destabilize the whole region.  Refugees are flooding across the border into Liberia, which just ended a civil war.  The needs of the refugees are straining the limited resources of that country.  Other refugees are heading east into Ghana.

Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, used to enjoy the highest living standards in West Africa.

The November election was supposed to reunite it after a 2002-3 civil war but Mr Gbagbo refuses to cede power.

There are 9,000 UN Peacekeepers in Cote d’Ivoire, stationed there to monitor the 2003 cease-fire.  They have been providing security for Mr. Outtara, winner of the November elections.

The UN helped organise the election and says that Mr Ouattara won – a position endorsed by the African Union, which has said Mr Gbagbo should stand down by 24 March.

What happens next?  Most likely more violence, as grown men use the poor to fight for them.

  • 435 killed since disputed election
  • 500,000 forced from their homes
  • 9,000 UN peacekeepers to monitor 2003 ceasefire
  • Election intended to reunite country
  • World’s largest cocoa producer
  • Previously seen as haven of peace and prosperity in West Africa
  • Alassane Ouattara recognised as president-elect
  • International sanctions imposed to force Laurent Gbagbo to go

Pathetic Leader Scared of Marching Women

via Ivory Coast forces kill at least six women protesters – The Globe and Mail.

[A]n African strongman clings to power and his forces have killed hundreds. Desperate inhabitants have turned to a new tactic in Abidjan: strength in weakness. Daily women’s marches have been held in neighbourhoods across the city, with slogans that don’t support either man claiming to be president. The women simply called for the killing to stop.

Their call went unheard and at least six women were killed Thursday when incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo’s Republican Guard opened fire.

Tribal differences are being exploited by the leaders, AK-47s are being passed out to teenagers, and all out war seems to be looming on the horizon.

The UN says that more than 200,000 people have fled Abobo, on the outskirts of Abidjan, and as many as 76 have been killed there since the fighting started.

The banks have closed, and gas, water, and electricity have been shut off in the north where Ouattara’s supporters live.

African leaders have been working for some resolution since last November, but nothing has changed except the level of violence against the citizens.

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and other Arab nations have taken center stage, and Cote d’Ivoire has been pushed aside.  But people are suffering there, and they hope for a new president, and peace.

 

 

 

Continuing Trouble in Côte d’Ivoire

via BBC News – Ivory Coast: Rebels take western town Zouan-Hounien.

Ivory Coast rebels fighting to oust President Laurent Gbagbo have taken control of a town in the west of the country, Mr Gbagbo’s forces confirm.

The rebels, who control the north of the country, seized the town of Zouan-Hounien in an overnight attack.

Witnesses say unrest has spread to the capital Yamoussoukro, and the UN has warned that the country is at risk of relapsing into civil war.

 

16 million people, half under the age of 15, in a country the size of New Mexico, with over 60 different ethnic groups – a recipe for disaster.

The country has 3 distinct regions – northern Sahel, southwestern forest, and southeastern lagoons.  Once upon a time, the Ivory Coast was a model of a stable African state, but the situation has deteriorated in the country that is the world’s leading producer of cocoa.  Since the troubles began after the election of Alassane Ouattara as president, exports have dropped.  Former President and loser of the election Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down, and a stand-off has ensued.  UN forces are protecting the new president as fighting rages around the country.

Separately, the UN’s refugee agency says the number of civilians fleeing west to Liberia has surged.

“Until mid-week we were seeing around 100 people crossing the border daily. But over the past 24 hours alone, the numbers coming across have swollen to 5,000 people,” the agency said in a statement.

African leaders have urged Gbagbo to cede power to the winner, but they have not been successful in their requests.

What will happen next?  Most likely, another un-civil war in another African state.

Winners and Losers

 

 

 

 

via VOA | US: Ivory Coast Leader Has Little Time Left for ‘Dignified’ Departure | Africa | English.

The State Department said there should be no power-sharing deal between Mr. Gbagbo and the internationally-recognized winner of the November election Allassane Ouattara.

Officials here confirm that the United States is willing to consider giving refuge to Mr. Gbagbo as a way of helping resolve the political crisis in Ivory Coast.

ECOWAS announced today that Mr. Gbagbo has said he is willing to have “talks” about the dangerous stalemate.  But as yet, he has not offered to stand down.

Fortunately, our country is accustomed to the rule of law, so when the Supreme Court ruled on the Bush-Gore election, Americans accepted the decision, even if they disagreed.  Unfortunately, most African nations do not have the democratic history that we do, and so elections are seen as a way to maintain corrupt power and privilege for a few elites.

Gbagbo and his supporters have earned the scorn of the free world, and we can only hope that the situation is resolved relatively peacefully, and soon.

 

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