GBAGBO’S DECLINING COLLAPSE
Like Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor, embattled and disgruntled Ivory coast’s defeated president is hanging on to power with very little concern about the future of his country – and the West African sub-region now at risk for spill-over effects.
MOMENTS BEFORE boarding his plane to exile in Nigeria, Charles Ghankay Taylor told Liberians what has now become the most famous quote of his final minutes in power: ‘‘I will always remember you wherever I am. I say to you God willing, I will be back.”
MONTHS BEFORE his departure and final agreement to relinquish his hold onto power, Taylor was defiant, rejecting several demands and request to save his nation from further bloodshed and throw in the towel to insurgent rebels battling his reign from all fronts.
TAYLOR’S DEFIANT was all too familiar. Years ago, in his quest to unseat Samuel Doe from power, Taylor became familiar to Doe’s reluctance and defiance.
DESPITE RISING death toll, Doe rejected international calls to step aside and failed to yield to pressure. In the end, a simple slip of fate prompted Doe to walk into his death, killed at the hands of Prince Johnson’s Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia(INPFL).
TODAY, LIBERIA’S next-door neighbours, the Ivory Coast is undergoing a similar play of defiance as Laurent Gbabo, who lost the recent elections resists international calls and pressure to relinquish power to the man who was declared winner, Alhassan Outtarra.
OUATTARA WAS DECLARED the winner of last November's presidential election by the country's election commission and numerous international observers. Gbagbo refused to recognized the results and has clung to power for four months, despite international financial sanctions. Forces allied with Ouattara launched a military offensive last week and advanced rapidly across the country, meeting almost no resistance.
GBAGBO’S defiance comes as forces loyal to Outtarra backed by international troops have encircled Gbagbo into a box amid claims and counter claims of bloody killings from both sides.
THE LATEST BATTLE have forced the United Nations mission in Ivory Coast to evacuate some 200 employees Sunday after repeated attacks on its headquarters, as fighters loyal to the internationally recognized president prepared for a battle to oust Gbagbo.
THE ONGOING BATTLE has kept Ivorians in their home, electricity has been cut intermittently and the water was shut off citywide Sunday morning, though a few women could be seen on the street filling basins with water from the lagoon, according to the Associated Press.
THE ENCIRCLED GBAGBO, on Saturday, called on his supporters to descend into the streets to form a human shield around the presidential palace. Boatloads of youth were ferried into the center of town and have been coursing the streets carrying rudimentary weapons such as two-by-fours and metal bars. Ouattara's camp reports that the vast majority of the military has defected to his side, leaving only a small contingent of fighters to defend Gbagbo.
ON SUNDAY, several French cargo planes arrived with 300 soldiers to reinforce the mission, said Commander Frederic Daguillon of the French Force Licorne, which is now 1,500 strong. French soldiers are in Ivory Coast under the same U.N. mandate as the U.N. peacekeeping force and its primary mission is the protection of civilians.
WITH SO MUCH pressure, both militarily and internationally, Mr. Gbabo’s defiance and hold onto minute power appears to have all but put the West African sub-region at risk with strong possibilities that the refugees spilling over to neighbouring Liberia and other countries in the region could put the region in a state of uncertainty.
MR. GBAGBO must put aside his selfish hold on power and realize that he has lost the confidence of his people, the region and the international community. His continued quest to hold on to power only prolongs his suffering and faint power grip.
GBAGBO MUST realize that it is only a matter of time that he will join the ranks of other defiant African heads of states whose fate have already been decided or are now at the mercy of time. For the sake of humanity and the suffering Ivorian people, Mr. Gbagbo must relinquish his faint hold of power and pave the way for the restoration of hope, peace and civility in what was once and could still be a beautiful Ivory Coast.