ECOWAS


EPA negotiations are going on in Accra right now.  Remember, the EU and the West depend upon African resources.  Africans need to drive some hard bargains in order to participate in the benefits of African wealth.

ECOWAS EPA Meeting

Ahead of an ECOWAS experts meeting on the Economic Partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU), to be held in Accra from 20-22nd of February 2013, there are gloomy clouds on the horizon, firstly about the possible direction that ECOWAS officials’ might lead the region and ‘betray’ their peoples and the sub-region by reversing current negotiating positions and offering even more liberal terms to an intransigent and aggressive European Union; and secondly, about the role that Ghana might play in such an unfortunate turn of events. ECOWAS CSO’s have issued a public admonition to the officials about the prospect of such a ‘betrayal’

ecowas-countries

Given Ghana’s delicate and potentially game-changing position in the West African EPA framework, it is imperative to call on the Government to show consistency of purpose and offer some leadership at this critical juncture in the EPA process.

The Ghanaian President spoke against the EU’s imposition of arbitrary and aggressive deadlines on countries like Ghana to sign the EPAs as well as the EU’s insistence on far-going, outright liberalization and how these will damage national revenue (through sharp reductions in customs revenue collection); adversely impact entire economies of what are still developing and least developed countries; and undermine regional economic integration such as that pursued by West African states through ECOWAS.

Despite such clear grasp of the fractious and anti-developmental nature of the current EU-driven EPAs, Ghana has continued to equivocate on its own EPA positions in ways that undermine and weaken ECOWAS as a whole. Even the pro-free trade World Bank states that opening of more than 65% of West African markets on equal terms to EU companies and goods will destroy domestic industry. Yet, in the face of an already struggling Ghanaian industry, barely gasping under the choking weight of unfair competition by imports, and despite the ECOWAS position of 70% market opening in the EPAs, Ghana’s go-it-alone interim EPA offers an 80%+ opening to the EU. As long as such as this exists the EU will use it as a benchmark pushing the entire region towards this lower, disastrous threshold.

Such inconsistency is all the more dangerous in the face of the contrasting single-minded aggressiveness of the EU to exploit its political position to gain pole position in certain global markets both to export its way out of its current crisis and to secure its competitiveness for the future. …

For the EU, this strategy is continuously being developed, evolved and renewed. For instance in 2008 the EU launched its raw material initiatives that seeks to enable Europe gain unimpeded access to raw materials to guarantee proper and sustainable functioning of the EU economy. … It is therefore not strange that the issues expressed in the raw materials initiative find expression in the EPA negotiations.

The European Union had based its assessment and projections for the coming decades on the firm conclusion that its survival depends on access to and control of strategic raw materials, assets and markets across the world hence the growing importance to it of projects such as the EPAs.  With the rise of new competitors on the global scene like China, the need to leverage spheres of interest and markets controlled since colonial times increases even more, and with it, the (as yet) non-violent political warfare for the Continent’s (Africa) resources. The warfare will be intensified in the wake of the never-ending financial and economic crises that engulfed the euro-zone since 2008.

The stakes are very high. For us, it is our economy, our development and our livelihoods. But it is also about our governments and their integrity at the national but also the sub-regional level as well.

Sylvester Bagooro, Programme officer, Third World Network-Africa; email:politicaleconomy@twnafrica.org

West African Civil society strongly oppose further opening of West African market to the EU

We strongly opposed to any new concession for opening the West African market to the European Union and are warning West African negotiators against any violation of the mandate given them by the region.

The civil society reminds West African experts as well as policy-makers of three pieces of evidence:

(1) the EPA is a trade agreement with a partner and, as such, cannot be a substitute for the trade policy in Africa West, let alone determine or influence the economic choices of the region that needs some appropriate policy space to build its development;

(2) Being aware of the risks that the failure to conclude an EPA could have on regional integration, especially through the signing of interim agreements with countries in the region, the civil society has never rejected the EPA negotiations, but they have always remained constant about their willingness to only accept an agreement that promotes development;

(3) In accordance with the MMC’s recommendations of November 2011 in Accra, the civil society requested West African decision-makers to initiate immediately a high level policy dialogue with the European Union to find a fair solution that would protect current and future interests of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and the entire West African region.

Source: West African Civil Society Platform on Cotonou Agreement (POSCAO)

It is in the economic interests of the EU and the West in general that African countries remain underdeveloped suppliers of raw materials.   Aid and EPAs provide a cover for agricultural dumping and other unfair trade practices that undermine African business,  farmers, and entrepreneurs.  It would be in all our interests if Ghana will provide some leadership with a bit of backbone in the current EPA negotiations.

Alassane Ouattara is the current President of Ivory Coast, selected by France and the United States on behalf of the international community, and with the assistance of U.N. mission chief to Ivory Coast Y.J. Choi, they declared Ouattara the winner of the November 2010 Ivoirian presidential election in 2011. Ouattara spent much of his career at the IMF, including serving as Deputy Managing Director of the IMF from 1994-1999.

A popular photocartoon of Ouattara as Sarkozy's puppet. I think it is appropriate here.

On Feb. 17 we heard that Alassane Ouattara Is the new Chairman Of ECOWAS. In his acceptance speech he concentrated on security issues, which works well with the the priorities of France, the US, and NATO.

The Ivorian president was elected for a single-year tenure at the 40th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS concluded in Abuja on Friday.

Quattara said in his acceptance speech that his administration would define common policy and combine resources to fight terrorism, piracy, banditry and proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the sub-region.

The Ivorian president also said that he would ensure the modernisation of ECOMOG to tackle security challenges.

He thanked his immediate predecessor, Jonathan, for his efforts in piloting ECOWAS in the resolution of the Ivorian political crisis and consolidation of peace and stability in other member- states.

The next summit of ECOWAS has been fixed for the Ivorian Capital, Yamussoukrou, on a date to be announced by the chairman.

At Nairaland, where the comments can be interesting, in comment #5 here, Danka7777 wrote:

Quattara – a known former IMF executive, this guy that was hand picked by the western countries to rule Ivory Coast. We are finished. Nigerians reading this, don’t take my words at face value, go and do your own research on why former President of Ivory Coast, Gbagbo was hunted and ousted from power. This guy was trying to untie Ivory Coast from the shackles of colonial France, in other words, he was trying to untie Ivorian currency from french currency. … essentially what this means is that the former colonial master(France) still controls the currency value of Ivory Coast. Gbagbo was hunted because he VOWED to untie Ivory Coast from the shackles of colonial slavery. They tell you in the mainstream media that Quattara won? Lets put this in context: how did he win? Who decides on who won elections? What constitutional body has absolute and final say on election malpractices? Is it the supreme court or electoral body? My judgement tells me its the Supreme court and most of you will agree. Who decided the election of President Goodluck Jonathan vs. Buhari few weeks ago and in the past elections, was it Supreme court or Electoral body(INEC)? Of course it was the Nigerian Supreme court. Who decided the election of Bush vs. Gore in 2000? United Supreme court did. Now, conversely, when the Ivorian Supreme court ruled that Gbagbo was the winner of the election in Ivory Coast, the western world said, No! no! no! … Who did these people think they are fooling? Like we are babies and can’t think for our selves.

IMF policies, particularly the market theology inspired SAPs, structural adjustment programs, have been responsible for the death and suffering of hundreds and thousands of people and the dismantling and destruction of vital institutions of government in many developing countries around the world. The IMF is the tool of bankers, with a banker’s view of the world. Currently we can see how harmful that can be in Greece.

I think it is important to consider this in the light of recent studies and information about the nature of global finance.

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

The study’s assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.

The work, to be published in PLoS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

Crucially, by identifying the architecture of global economic power, the analysis could help make it more stable. By finding the vulnerable aspects of the system, economists can suggest measures to prevent future collapses spreading through the entire economy. Glattfelder says we may need global anti-trust rules, which now exist only at national level, to limit over-connection among TNCs. Sugihara says the analysis suggests one possible solution: firms should be taxed for excess interconnectivity to discourage this risk.

the super-entity is unlikely to be the intentional result of a conspiracy to rule the world. “Such structures are common in nature,” says Sugihara.

I don’t believe much in conspiracies, eventually people talk. The more people that know a secret, the less likely it is to stay a secret. Common interests are a different matter. Individuals and groups can organize and act as powerful forces to protect their own interests without the need to conspire.

As a long term employee and official of the IMF, Ouattara is a part of the global financial structure and likely to work for its interests above the interests of Ivory Coast, West Africa, or the continent of Africa. To date he has shown no sign that his allegiances are with Ivory Coast or with Africa above the IMF, Sarkozy, France, and the bankers.

The petition below has my heartfelt support. EPAs have nearly destroyed Ghana’s poultry industry (and a great many more economic sectors) and severely damaged our family farming efforts. The EU dumps frozen chicken parts on Ghana and West Africa that are subsidized to sell below what it costs to produce them. Frozen chicken parts are not as tasty or as healthy as locally grown chicken, but they are cheaper, and the Ghana poultry farmers can’t compete. Only a few times a year, generally on holidays when people want something really good, will they splurge and buy chickens grown locally.

As it says in the petition below:

The EU’s current economic crisis is partly due to the same unbridled liberalisation policies it is trying to impose on us through the EPAs.
we locked ourselves into agreements that predictably provided all the guarantees and benefits for our ‘partners’. We are left with dwindling shares, missed opportunities, the destruction of livelihoods and of the very environment we live in! Our national and regional development plans and their integration must come first and determine the scope and content of any EPAs. The world is very different at the end of 2011 than it was at the beginning of 2002 when EPA negotiations began. The speed of change, including negative change is the key feature of economic fortunes. The entire ECOWAS leadership and the Government of Ghana must begin to lay down concrete alternatives to the EPA as they meet in Accra this week.

Thirty or so years of trade liberalisation … has brought collapse of industries, paralysis of agriculture and unprecedented mass unemployment and youth discontent in our societies.

As another press release from Third World Network Africa points out:

The other change [since 2002] is in the shifting centre of gravity of the global economy from regions like Europe to East Asia. Our contention is that the IEPA must be abandoned. It is a threat to the re-positioning of the national economy and to regional integration in ECOWAS.

The full text of the petition is below the graphic. The distinguished groups who sponsor and sign it are listed at the end, all members of the EJN, Economic Justice Network of Ghana.

Handshake wrapped in money, who gets the money?

PETITION TO THE MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY ON THE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
Written by members of the ECONOMIC JUSTICE NETWORK OF GHANA (EJN)
Monday, 28 November 2011 14:29

GHANA CANNOT RIDE TWO HORSES – PETITION TO THE MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY ON THE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (EU) WITH THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION ON 28TH NOVEMBER 2011

1.0 Preamble

As Ghana hosts the ECOWAS Ministerial Monitoring Committee Meeting (MMC) from the 28 -30th November 2011, the preservation of the coherence of our Economic Community and the future of West Africa’s Regional Integration hangs in the balance. The so-called Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) West Africa is currently negotiating with the European Union (EU) has already caused costly divisions in ECOWAS.

The EPA has created at least 3 contradictory trade regimes in a region that is supposed to have a single unified trade regime. LDCs in West Africa currently trade with the EU under the non-reciprocal Everything But Arms regime; as a non-LDC, Nigeria trades under what is known under the EU GSP; and Cote d’Ivoire has a bilateral EPA with the EU under which it is exempt on a small range of taxes imposed on Nigerian exports to the EU, BUT in exchange for exempting 81% of all imports from EU into Cote d’Ivoire from any tariff whatsoever.

The EU is our biggest trading partner and impacts our economies for better or for worse. Goods coming into West Africa from the EU will come in at 3 different tariff regimes and costs. What then will happen to the flow of these goods from each of these three sets of countries into each other as well as all other goods trade that exists between them? It is not difficult to imagine the trade bans, blockades and wars that will escalate within the region. This is the state of affairs that exists in West Africa as the MMC convenes in Accra today. The implications for ECOWAS are simply staggering.

But in can get much worse. In addition to these three trade regimes Ghana is on the brink of finalising and making PERMANENT its own INTERIM EPA which it undertook as a temporary measure three years ago. The Ghana IEPA has only slightly better terms in the scope of free entry it allows imports from Europe. Thus, Ghana will join Cote d’Ivoire in offering EU imports the most liberal, widest and therefore potentially most damaging market access. Meanwhile Ghana’s terms are not identical to that offered by Cote d’Ivoire. In effect, the Government of Ghana would have created a FOURTH trade regime in West Africa. How can anyone seriously claim that this is and will remain in the national interest of Ghana? If taken any further, Ghana’s unilateral stance will be a disaster for herself and for the region she is permanently tied to!

However this need not happen if Ghana and sister West African governments show vision and leadership and put the defence of ECOWAS’ integrity today and its progressive development tomorrow as the central common priority and shared destiny.

The current MMC which gets underway in Accra this morning and the outcomes it produces will accelerate ECOWAS fracture or consolidate and enhance its future.

2.0 Issues in the EPA and Our Position:

1. The threats by Ghana Government to sign and ratify the interim EPA initialed in 2007 will destroy efforts over the years to integrate as one region. Ghana’s Interim EPAs eliminates tariffs on above 80% of EU trade goods but the collective ECOWAS EPA is currently offering much less than that. ECOWAS is now considering 70% offer, we think this is already too high and too dangerous for our economies! But the EU still rejects the (excessive) 70% offer. The EU is intransigent to the ECOWAS position because once it has the 80%-plus benchmark from Ghana (and Cote d’Ivoire) it knows West Africa’s common stance has been greatly weakened. The EU’s ruthlessness, divisive and bullying stance in the EPAs has been officially acknowledged and condemned by African governments, including Ghana. But the example and fact of Ghana’s IEPA gives the EU clear evidence and encourages its confidence that if it remains just as ruthless for long enough other West African governments will crack. Today, it is Ghana’s position that is in the balance. The Ghana IEPA is a Trojan horse. We demand the Ghana IEPA be suspended immediately and Government commits fully and unconditionally to the collective ECOWAS EPA process, including the immediate issue of the collective position on the scope of Market Access.

2. ECOWAS must take a collective stance which, among others, compensates non-LDC members like Ghana for the costs in extra tariffs that their exports to the EU market will attract if they abandon the IEPA. Credible estimates indicate that the three non-LDCs in West Africa will incur additional tariffs on their exports into EU of about €132million if they trade without an EPA. Ghana’s direct share of these losses will be about €37 million euro. The economy, total global trade and the livelihoods of the overwhelming majority of 25 million Ghanaians cannot be sacrificed for a paltry tax bill of 37 million euro. West Africa’s development and its future cannot be sold for 132 million euro. ECOWAS must immediately create a REGIONAL SOLIDARITY FUND to absorb these losses. Ghana must signal her complete commitment to promoting this Regional Solidarity Fund rather than its ‘national interest’ in the IEPA. It must also reject the attacks the EU is making on the ECOWAS levy in the EPA negotiations, as this is the kind of mechanism needed to create the solidarity fund.

3. Beyond the immediate threat of extra tariffs on exports to Europe from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria (the non-LDC countries in ECOWAS), it must be made clear that ALL West African countries will incur massive fiscal losses from the EPAs. It is worth reminder that the 13 West African LDCs currently export everything but arms duty-free, quota-free to the EU market. But they are currently entitled to impose tariffs on all EU imports. Revenue from trade tariffs are the lifeblood for these and other least developed as well as vulnerable lower income developing countries. Ghana alone stands to lose $194 million (UNECA, 2005). Under the EPA even the LDCs have to grant EU imports free entry and lose the associated revenues from tariffs. This will be ‘in exchange’ for something they ALREADY HAVE (and have for free), i.e. duty-free quota-free access to EU markets for all exports apart from arms.

Further, the EU’s position on various aspects of the EPAs, e.g. standstill on introduction of new tariffs and taxes or increase in existing ones; restrictions on the use of export taxes and quantitative restrictions; the MFN, non-execution clause and others, collectively termed ‘contentious issues’ in the negotiations, will divert trade within West Africa as well as West African trade with other, non-EU countries and regions to their gain but to our loss. They will also undermine the Region’s efforts to industrialize and its ability to move up the industrial value chain. As a result, the region will remain a perpetual supplier of raw materials, with all the adverse implications that this entails. Any regional EPA must remove these EU impositions and narrow the scope of threat or damage to ECOWAS. Suspending Ghana’s IEPA and the provisions it contains on these issues will enhance ECOWAS ability to review and strengthen its collective positions.

1[4]. The EU’s demands and pressure in areas that go beyond tariffs and World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments – such as Financial Services, Public Procurement, Investment, Health, Raw Materials, Natural Resources and Intellectual Property – pose even greater threats and are of more strategic importance to Ghana’s (as well as West Africa’s) economic transformation, industrialization and overall development. In the case of Services, internal trade within West Africa is even bigger and more dynamic than trade in goods within the region. But West Africa is hardly in a position to export services to the EU. Officials claim that negotiating and including services (as well as the other WTO-plus, Trade-Related Issues like Procurement. Investment and Intellectual Property) will create a predictable environment for EU trade and investment in West Africa. We have already had increasingly free trade in goods with the EU and others for more than 30 years. There is one predictable outcome we already know – EU companies will dominate in these areas, our already low existing capacity will be weakened even further, including our foothold in the growth areas of trade in services and in manufactures within West Africa. Any EPA must be a goods-only agreement and must exclude Services and the so-called Trade related Issues.

5. While ECOWAS has bent over backwards to accommodate EU demands, her ‘partner’ remains inflexible, unyielding or worse. In fact the EU has consistently flouted and retracted on commitments it has previously made. A most telling example is in the area of EU responsibility to finance fiscal losses West African countries will incur as a result of entering into EPAs. Another is the subterfuge the EU has shown in respect of providing ADDITIONAL funding for the EPA Development Programme (or ‘PAPED’). The EU has watered down and reversed commitments and has engaged in patent falsehoods, recycling existing European Development Fund commitments as ‘new and additional funding’. By foul and other means the EU continues to show beyond all reasonable doubt that its interests in the EPAs have little or nothing to do with ECOWAS development or regional integration aspirations, but everything to do with securing preferential advantages in West African economies and markets against all comers – including our own domestic and regional producers and our development needs. ECOWAS must insist and secure binding and unequivocal EU compensation, adjustment and development commitments as a pre-condition for any EPA.

6. But Ghana and West Africa must also prioritize the diversification of their trade away from the EU, as well as our own developmental regionally integrated production capacities, investments and markets. The EU’s current economic crisis is partly due to the same unbridled liberalisation policies it is trying to impose on us through the EPAs. In Europe today, the corporate monopolies in the financial services sector in particular are holding all working people in Europe and whole economies to ransom. Meanwhile as current trends show, many more prospects exits for production partnerships, trade, investment and economic development with emerging regions in the global South. Locking in our entire trade, investment and development finance policies by giving EU privileges no one else has, not even our own companies and citizens, is not a forward looking policy. Today we are unable to share in windfall profits of mining companies because we locked ourselves into agreements that predictably provided all the guarantees and benefits for our ‘partners’. We are left with dwindling shares, missed opportunities, the destruction of livelihoods and of the very environment we live in! Our national and regional development plans and their integration must come first and determine the scope and content of any EPAs. The world is very different at the end of 2011 than it was at the beginning of 2002 when EPA negotiations began. The speed of change, including negative change is the key feature of economic fortunes. The entire ECOWAS leadership and the Government of Ghana must begin to lay down concrete alternatives to the EPA as they meet in Accra this week.

3.0 Conclusion

As Ghanaian organisations and citizens we call on the Government of Ghana to live up to the nation’s role and responsibility to ECOWAS and Africa’s unity and to our self-determination in charting and realising our developmental transformation. Thirty or so years of trade liberalisation has not brought us any closer to this. Rather it has brought collapse of industries, paralysis of agriculture and unprecedented mass unemployment and youth discontent in our societies.

Ghana must pull back from the brink of a unilateralism that will put another nail in the coffin of development in our country and in our region. It must suspend its bilateral EPA and fully and unconditionally return to the fold of the collective regional EPA process. Ghana cannot ride two horses at once. Two horses going in different and opposite direction will tear the rider apart and trample her underfoot.

Sister ECOWAS Trade Ministers and Governments must also play their part that we ride together towards the same destination and destiny for our collective mutual protection and benefit. The ECOWAS MMC must define a collective solution that addresses any losses that Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and other countries will face in the absence of their interim EPAs. This is the most immediate means to consolidate ECOWAS in the EPA process and in our deep common interests that go way beyond extra taxes that we will have to pay on a very small proportion of our exports to Europe.

Accra, 28th November 2011. Signed by the ff Organizations:
GHANA TRADE UNION CONGRESS,
GHANA TRADE AND LIVELIHOODS COALITION,
ISODEC,
THIRD WORLD NETWORK-AFRICA,
ABIBIMAN FOUNDATION,
ACTION AID GHANA,
GAWU,
SEND FOUNDATION,
FOODSPAN
– all members of the ECONOMIC JUSTICE NETWORK OF GHANA (EJN)

h/t to E.K Bensah for bringing this to my attention:
Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr.
Communications Officer (Web Journalist)
COMMUNICATIONS UNIT
Third World Network– Africa
9, Ollenu Street East Legon
P.O.Box AN 19452
Accra-Ghana

Thabo Mbeki writes What the World Got Wrong in Côte D’Ivoire. He asks:

Why is the United Nations entrenching former colonial powers on our continent? Africans can and should take the lead in resolving their own disputes.

Gbagbo greets Mbeki during negotiations in Ivory Coast

The second round of the Nov. 28, 2010, presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire pitted against each other two long-standing political opponents, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara. For this reason, and of strategic importance, it was inevitable that this electoral contest would decide the long-term future of the country. Everybody concerned should have probed very seriously the critical question: Would the 2010 elections create the conditions that would establish the basis for the best possible future for the Ivorian people?

Rather, the international community insisted that what Côte d’Ivoire required to end its crisis was to hold democratic elections, even though the conditions did not exist to conduct such elections. Though they knew that this proposition was fundamentally wrong, the Ivorians could not withstand the international pressure to hold the elections.

However, the objective reality is that the Ivorian presidential elections should not have been held when they were held. It was perfectly foreseeable that they would further entrench the very conflict it was suggested they would end.

The 2002 rebellion in Côte d’Ivoire divided the country into two parts, with the north controlled by the rebel Forces Nouvelles, which supported Alassane Ouattara, and the south in the hands of the Gbagbo-led government. Since then, Côte d’Ivoire has had two governments, administrations, armies, and “national” leaders.

Any elections held under these circumstances would inevitably entrench the divisions and animosities represented and exacerbated by the 2002 rebellion.

The structural faults which lay at the base of the 2002 rebellion include such inflammable issues as trans-national tensions affecting especially Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, Ivorian ethnic and religious antagonisms, sharing of political power, and access to economic and social power and opportunities.

In this regard, the international community has assiduously suppressed proper appreciation of various explosive allegations which, rightly or wrongly, have informed and will continue to inform the views of the Gbagbo-supporting population in southern Côte d’Ivoire — and much of Francophone Africa!

These are that Ouattara is a foreigner born in Burkina Faso, that together with Burkinabè President Blaise Compaoré he was responsible for the 2002 rebellion, that his accession to power would result in the takeover of the country especially by Burkinabè foreigners, and that historically, to date, he has been ready to advance French interests in Côte d’Ivoire.

Taking all this into account, the African Union understood that a lasting solution of the Ivorian crisis necessitated a negotiated agreement between the two belligerent Ivorian factions, focused on the interdependent issues of democracy, peace, national reconciliation and unity.

In protracted negotiations from 2002, the Ivorians agreed that the presidential elections would not be held until various conditions had been met. These included the reunification of the country, the restoration of the national administration to all parts of the Ivorian territory, and the disarmament of the rebels and all militia and their integration in the national security machinery, with the latter process completed at least two months ahead of any presidential elections. Despite the fact that none of this was honoured, the presidential elections were allowed to proceed.

In the end, Ouattara has been installed as president of Côte d’Ivoire. Gbagbo, and his wife Simone, have ended up as humiliated prisoners. Many Ivorians have died and have been displaced, much infrastructure has been destroyed, and historic animosities have been exacerbated in the lead up to this outcome.

Many things have gone radically wrong along the road to this result.

Agreements relating to what needed to be done to create conditions for free and fair elections were wilfully and contemptuously ignored. The Ivorian Constitutional Council (CC) is the only body constitutionally empowered to determine the winner in any presidential election and to install the president, with the Electoral Commission (IEC) mandated to forward its provisional results to the CC. However, the very people who insist on the sanctity of the rule of law as fundamental to all democratic practice, elected illegally to recognise the provisional result announced by the chairperson of the IEC on his own, as the authentic outcome of the presidential election.

As provided by the law, Gbagbo contested the fairness of the elections in certain parts of the country, especially the north. The CC, rightly or wrongly, accepted the majority of the complaints made by Gbagbo, identified other “irregularities,” annulled the votes in some districts, and declared Gbagbo the victor. The chairperson of the IEC did not take these alleged irregularities into account and decided that Ouattara had won.

The envoy of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, his fellow South Korean, SRSG Young-jin Choi, also determined that Ouattara had won, but on the basis of fewer votes than those announced by the IEC, having determined that some of the complaints made by Gbagbo were legitimate. In terms of the votes cast for the two candidates, the IEC, the CC, and the U.N. SRSG made three different determinations.

Gbagbo proposed that to resolve this matter, which bears on the important issue of the will of the Ivorian people, an international commission should be established to verify the election results, with the important pre-condition that both he and Ouattara should accept the determination of the commission.

This proposal was rejected by the international community — despite the fact that it would have resolved the electoral dispute without resort to war, and despite the fact that some election observers questioned the fairness of the elections, especially in northern Côte d’Ivoire.

For instance, reporting on the elections in the north, the election observer mission of the AU led by Joseph Kokou Kofigoh, former prime minister of Togo, the independent civil society Societé Civile Africaine pour la Democratie et l’Assistance Electoral led by Seynabou Indieguene of Senegal, and the Coordination of African Election Experts (CAEE) from Cameroon, Senegal, Benin, Mali, Morocco, Gabon, and Togo led by Jean-Marie Ongjibangte of Cameroon, all sounded the alarm about the elections in the north.

For instance, the CAEE said: “After sharing information with other national and international election observers, we hereby state that the second round of the presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire was held amidst major problems in (various northern) regions…

“These problems were stealing of ballot boxes, arresting of candidates’ representatives, multiple voting, refusal to admit international observers to witness counting of ballots, and the murder of representatives of candidates. To that effect, we hereby declare that the second round of voting was not free, fair and transparent in these (northern) localities.”

For its part, to this day, the ECOWAS election observer mission has not issued its report on the second round of the presidential election! Why?

Clearly the independent international commission proposed by Laurent Gbagbo could have been established and empowered to make a definitive and binding determination about what had happened. Time will tell why this was not done!

Further, the U.N. SRSG took the extraordinary decision to exceed his mandate by declaring who had won the presidential election, contrary to his tasks as detailed by the Security Council. This positioned the U.N. Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) as a partisan in the Ivorian conflict, rather than a neutral peacemaker, equidistant from the belligerent parties.

From this point onwards, UNOCI had no choice but actively to work for the installation of Ouattara as president of the country and the removal of Gbagbo. Ultimately, this found expression in the blatant use of its military capacities to open the way for the Forces Nouvelles to defeat the Gbagbo forces and capture Gbagbo, under the shameless pretence that it was acting to protect civilians.

While obliged to respect its peacekeeping mandate, which included keeping the belligerent forces apart, UNOCI did nothing to stop the advance of the Forces Nouvelles from the north to the south, including and up to Abidjan. Nor did UNOCI or the French Licorne forces, as mandated by the United Nations, act to protect civilians in the area of Duékoué, where, evidently, the most concentrated murder of civilians took place! This recalls the United Nations’s failure to end the more catastrophic murder and abuse of civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo!

The Ivorian reality points to a number of incontrovertible conclusions.

The agreed conditions for the holding of democratic elections in Côte d’Ivoire were not created. Despite strong allegations of electoral fraud, the international community decided against conducting any verification of the process and the announced results. This left unanswered the vitally important question of who actually had won the elections, which Ouattara might have done.

The United Nations elected to abandon its neutrality as a peacemaker, deciding to be a partisan belligerent in the Ivorian conflict.

France used its privileged place in the Security Council to position itself to play an important role in determining the future of Côte d’Ivoire, its former colony in which, inter alia, it has significant economic interests. It joined the United Nations to ensure that Ouattara emerged as the victor in the Ivorian conflict.

This addressed the national interests of France, consistent with its Françafrique policies, which aim to perpetuate a particular relationship with its former African colonies. This is in keeping with remarks made by former French President François Mitterand when he said, “Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century,” which former French foreign minister Jacques Godfrain confirmed when he said: “A little country [France], with a small amount of strength, we can move a planet because [of our]…relations with 15 or 20 African countries…”

The AU is also not without blame, as it failed to assert itself to persuade everybody to work to achieve reconciliation among the Ivorians, and therefore durable peace. Tragically, the outcome that has been achieved in Côte d’Ivoire further entrenches the endemic conflict in this country.  This is because it has placed in the exclusive hands of the failed rebellion of 2002 the ability to determine the future of the country, whereas the objective situation dictated and dictates that the people of Côte d’Ivoire should engage one another as equals to determine their shared destiny.

During the decade he served as president of Côte d’Ivoire, Gbagbo had no possibility to act on his own to reunify the country and achieve reconciliation among its diverse people, despite the existence of negotiated agreements in this regard. As he serves as president of the country, Ouattara will not succeed to realise these objectives, acting on his own, outside the context of honest agreement with the sections of the Ivorian population represented by Gbagbo.

What was to come was foreseen by the then U.S. ambassador in Côte d’Ivoire, Wanda L. Nesbitt. In July 2009, she advised the U.S. government:

“It now appears that the Ouaga IV agreement, [the fourth agreement to the Ouagadougou Political Agreement which prescribed that disarmament should precede the elections], is fundamentally an agreement between Blaise Compaore [President of Burkina Faso] and Laurent Gbagbo to share control of the north until after the presidential election, despite the fact that the text calls for the Forces Nouvelles to return control of the north to the government and complete disarmament two months before the election…

“But the 5,000 Forces Nouvelles soldiers who are to be “disarmed” and regrouped into barracks in four key cities in the north and west until a new national army is created, represent a serious military capability that the FAFN [Forces Nouvelles] intends to keep well-trained and in reserve until after the election. The hand-over of administrative power from the FAFN to civilian government authorities is a pre-requisite for elections but, as travelers to the north (including Embassy personnel) confirm: the FAFN retain de-facto control of the region especially when it comes to finances.”

The failure to address the “pre-requisite for elections” predetermined their outcome. The rebel “control” of the north, mentioned by Ambassador Nesbitt, prescribed the outcome of the 2010 presidential election. Similarly, it was the “military capability” of the rebellion, which Ambassador Nesbitt mentioned, that was used to ensure that Ouattara became president of Côte d’Ivoire.

It is little wonder that as the post-election crisis deepened, Laurent Gbagbo would cry out: I was betrayed!

At the end of it all, there are many casualties.

One of these is the African Union. The tragic events in Côte d’Ivoire have confirmed the marginalization of the union in its ability to resolve the most important African challenges.

Instead, the AU has asserted the ability of the major powers to intervene to resolve these challenges by using their various capacities to legitimize their actions by persuading the United Nations to authorise their self-serving interventions.

The United Nations is yet another casualty. It has severely undermined its acceptability as a neutral force in the resolution of internal conflicts, such as the one in Côte d’Ivoire. It will now be difficult for the United Nations to convince Africa and the rest of the developing world that it is not a mere instrument in the hands of the world’s major powers. This has confirmed the urgency of the need to restructure the organisation, based on the view that as presently structured the United Nations has no ability to act as a truly democratic representative of its member states.

Thus, in various ways, the events in Côte d’Ivoire could serve as a defining moment in terms of the urgent need to reengineer the system of international relations. They have exposed the reality of the balance and abuse of power in the post-Cold War era, and put paid to the fiction that the major powers respect the rule of law in the conduct of international relations, even as defined by the U.N. Charter, and that, as democrats, they respect the views of the peoples of the world.

We can only hope that Laurent and Simone Gbagbo and the Ivorian people do not continue to suffer as abused and humiliated victims of a global system which, in its interests, while shouting loudly about universal human rights, only seeks to perpetuate the domination of the many by the few who dispose of preponderant political, economic, military and media power.

The perverse and poisonous proceedings that have afflicted Côte d’Ivoire pose the urgent question: How many blatant abuses of power will Africa and the rest of the developing world experience before the vision of a democratic system of global governance is realised?

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Gambia coat of arms

The government of the Gambia refuses to recognize the Ouattara government in Ivory Coast.

Gambia Government’s position on the tragedy in Cote D’Ivoire or Ivory Coast

The events in Ivory Coast have vindicated us on our earlier assertion that Western Neo colonialist sponsored agents in Africa that owe allegiance only to themselves and their Western Masters are ready to walk on thousands of dead bodies to the Presidency. This is what is happening in Ivory Coast.

Africans should not only wake up, but should stand up to the new attempts to re-colonise Africa through so called elections that are organized just to fool the people since the true verdict of the people would not be respected if it does not go in favour of the Western Backed Candidates as has happened in Cote D’Ivoire and elsewhere in Africa.

What is really sinister and dangerous about the neo colonialist threat is that they are ready to use brute force, or carry out outrageous massacres to neutralize any form of resistance to the Western selected President as has happened in Cote D’Ivoire

In Ivory Coast, we know the role played by the former Colonial power who, outside of the UN Mandate, first Bombarded the Presidential Palace for Days and eventually stormed it through a tunnel that links the Presidential Palace to one of the residences of their diplomatic representative.

The reasons for the bombardment of the Presidential Palace prior to the raid was according to them; to prevent Gbagbo using heavy weapons against civilians! But both the UN and France were aware of the outrageous massacres of civilians, entire villages that supported President Laurent Gbagbo were wiped out by the so called republican forces fighting for Ouatarra. Were Gbagbo supporters not supposed to be protected by both the UN and French Forces against Massacres?

These so called republican forces that were supposed to be fighting for Democracy, ended up killing thousands with impunity and are now engaged in massive looting!

Our position is very clear. The case of Laurent Gbagbo is a replica of the Case of Patrice Lumumba who; as a a Freedom Fighter for the dignity and Independence of not only Congolese people but the entire black race was overthrown by Western powers including the UN, and handed over to his sworn enemies to be murdered.

History is repeating itself as the same Neocolonial forces that overthrew Patrice Lumumba, captured him and handed him over to his enemies almost fifty years ago; are the same forces involved in the Ivory Coast with the only difference being that it is now a different former colonial power.

If justice is to be done, there should be an impartial and comprehensive investigation into all the atrocities carried out in Ivory Coast by a team of honest and decent Allah fearing people. Alassan Ouatarra and his forces cannot go scot free and blame everything on President Laurent Gbagbo who according to the Ivorian Constitution is the legitimate President of Ivory Coast. This team should be selected by the Non Align Movement.

One is tempted to ask this Question:

How is it possible that the verdict of the constitutional council that decided on who won the elections in some Francophone African Countries recently were accepted: that is after the election in Ivory Coast but that of The Ivorian Constitution Council was rejected by both the Western powers and the UN?

As far as we are concerned, the only solution to avert a long drawn-out civil War with all its attendant consequences in Ivory Coast is to reorganize Presidential elections in the shortest possible time. In the meantime an interim Government of National Unity should be formed without Alassan Ouatarra; as he also has a lot to answer for as well.

One thing is very clear to all Africans today – the plot to recolonise Africa is very real and we must stand up to it.

It is shameful that the most evil, dictatorial and repressive powers on earth today are calling African leaders Dictators. It is also very shocking and interesting as well that the same powers are not saying anything about the popular uprising that has been raging on Burkina Faso for the past three weeks resulting in the storming of the Presidential Palace in Ouagadougou, last night, with the whereabouts of Blaise Compaore unknown. This uprising has been going on for more than three weeks now and not a single international news media is reporting on it. Is it possible in today’s world that such an uprising can take place in a country like Burkina Faso; so close to the Ivory Coast; a dusk to dawn curfew imposed for two weeks; without the Western Media including those of the former colonial Master knowing about it?

We the new Generation of Africans cannot and will not be fooled. We know what Blaise Compaore stands for in Africa with regards to the West.

Captain Thomas Sankara was murdered for standing up to imperialism and neo colonialism in Burkina Faso in particular and Francophone Africa in general. He was killed for the same reasons that Patrice Lumumba and other African Freedom Fighters died for, their killers eventually becoming Presidents in those African countries and worked exclusively for Western interests in Africa.

Blaise Compaore, is one of them. He has a lot to answer for the civil wars that ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast then, and now.

That there is such a media blackout of the uprising in Burkina Faso, but an up-to-the-minute reporting of events in Yemen, Syria, Ivory Coast etc shows that the so called international news media are the mouth pieces of certain Satanic Powers with a sinister Mission for the rest of the world outside the West.

Why can’t the West respect Africa’s Independence and dignity?

In conclusion, we call on the UN to ensure the safety, protection, and well being of President Laurent Gbagbo; the constitutionally legal President of Ivory Coast and set him free. He cannot be tried whilst Alassan Ouatarra, the internationally selected President goes scot free after massacring thousands of civilians just to be President!

The Gambia Government would not recognize any President or Government in Africa that has been imposed by forces outside of the African Continent for whatever reason. We know what those governments and Presidents stand for in Africa. They loot African resources on behalf of the powers that brought them to power.

MAY THE ALMIGHTY ALLAH Guide, Guard and Protect Africans by giving us the courage to stand up in Defence of African Independence, Dignity and the protection of our natural Resources from those hungry locusts on the rampage in Africa. The road to total liberation may be tough, but we shall prevail very soon INSHA ALLAH.

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This blog has covered many of the points raised by Mr. Mbeki, and by the government of the Gambia.   The Western recolonizers are barely trying to hide their intentions any more.    The people and resources of the entire continent are under assault.

Earlier posts regarding Ivory Coast are:
Creating Failed States For Profit
Humanitarian Invasion In Ivory Coast
Côte d’Ivoire – Military Intervention Vs Constitutional Legitimacy
Ivory Coast – What Happened? What Next?

Anyone who claims that they know, for sure, that either Allassane Dramane Ouattara or Laurent Gbagbo won the election is fiddling with the truth. Dr. Nfor N. Susungi

Considering the facts, it is difficult for Angola to accept that there is an elected president in La Côte d’Ivoire. We believe however, that there is a constitutional president. Jose Eduardo dos Santos, President Of Angola

Estimated undiscovered and recoverable oil and natural gas off the coast of Ivory Coast, extending through Ghana, Togo, Benin, and the western edge of Nigeria.: 4,071 MMBO, million barrels of oil, 34,451 BCFG, billion cubic feet of gas, and 1,145 MMBNGL, million barrels of natural gas liquids, for the Coastal Plain and Offshore AU in the Gulf of Guinea Province, outlined in red. This does not include current existing discoveries, or fields already in production. Note that it extends along the entire coast of Ivory Coast.

“In any case, people should stop to consider the circumstances under which the election results were declared. The election result was not declared by the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire. It was declared by one member of the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire, in Hôtel du Golf, which is the Headquarters of the Opposition. He was accompanied to do that declaration by the Ambassador of France and the Ambassador of the United States of America.

Indeed, the declaration was not done before the Ivorian media. The declaration was done, exclusively before the French media. No Ivorian journalist was present when the declaration was made. And it was made in the Headquarters of the Opposition.”
Kwesi Pratt

OUTSIDE MILITARY INTERVENTION IN IVORY COAST

ECOWAS threatened military intervention in Ivory Coast if Gbagbo does not cede the presidency to Ouattara. In January the Commander of the U.S. Army Africa, General Hogg (misspelled Hagg in the article) toured West African countries, including Ghana, looking for commitments of proxy soldiers for military intervention in Côte d’Ivoire.

“Responding to a question from the Commander of the United States Army in charge of Africa, Major-General David Hagg, Lt Gen Blay said the GAF were overstretched because of their international engagements in peacekeeping operations in various trouble spots in the world and that the top brass had made that known to the Commander-in-Chief of the GAF, President John Evans Atta Mills.

He said the GAF also had their commitments to protect the territorial integrity of the country.

Major-General Hagg was in the country to officially find out whether or not Ghana would commit troops to Cote d’Ivoire, should the need arise.”

Gen. David Hogg, the United States Commander in charge of Africa (left), admiring a gift presented to him by Lt. Gen. Augustine Blay, Ghana's Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), at the Burma Camp in Accra, Jan. 12, 2011.

At his New Year’s Press Conference, H.E. President John Evans Atta-Mills presented Ghana’s foreign policy stance on Cote d’Ivoire as one which respects the territorial sovereignty of its neighbor, seeks to use peaceful diplomatic means to resolve the ongoing electoral dispute and puts a priority on the interests of Ghanaians. President Atta-Mills also said in his “personal opinion” he did not believe that military force will be beneficial in resolving the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire and therefore was opposed to a military invasion of Cote d’Ivoire.

President Mills opined that he believed we should be guided by the Fanti saying in relation troubles “Dzi wo fie asem, mind your own house/business. He received a lot of criticism for this, including from the BBC, whose David Amanor missed the point. A better explantion of the use of the proverb is provided by Nii Aryertey Aryeh. Mills consulted with the head of GAF, the Ghana Armed Forces, who said Ghana is already overextended with peacekeeping and does not have enough soldiers or resources to undertake military action in Côte d’Ivoire. It is also the case that at least a million Ghanaians live in Côte d’Ivoire. Their lives would be in significantly more danger if Ghana were to engage in military adventurism there. Mills advocates quiet diplomacy to resolve the situation in Ivory Coast.

The current planning for military intervention is hardly credible. Kwesi Pratt describes what has been committed so far. He gave an interview on Radio Gold (transcript) which is the most detailed description of the entire situation I have seen. Here is the excerpt describing the ECOWAS military commitment:

“You know, Suhuyini, I’d like to start with some definitions first. And then you will see how ridiculous the proposition to go to war is. Listen to me very carefully. I just checked, I am not a military man, so yesterday, I spent some time to go on the internet. And these are the definitions I got from the internet:

A platoon, a platoon, and fortunately Dr. Tony Aidoo is in the studio, having been Deputy Minister of Defence before, he may understand these things better than me.

Dr. Tony Aidoo: It is a small unit.
Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.: A platoon is twenty six to fifty five men. You understand? I will relate it to what I am going to say very soon. A platoon is twenty six to fifty five men. A company is eighty to two hundred and twenty five men. A battalion is three hundred to thousand three hundred men. And a regiment or brigade, is between three thousand and five thousand men and so on.

Now we are saying that the Ghana government is not committed to war. Other nations are committed to war. What is their concrete commitments? Look, ECOWAS chiefs of staff met in Abuja on the 28th of December last year, to consider the military option. So they said, everybody, bring what you have and let’s go to war. Look at what they brought, Suhuyini, it is very interesting!

Liberia…, Liberia, Liberia committed one infantry platoon. To go to war in La Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia contributed twenty six men!

Dr. Tony Aidoo: Hm hm hm! [chuckling]
Kwesi Pratt Jnr.: Sierra Leone committed one infantry company. That is all they committed. One infantry company! Senegal, Senegal which is leading the charge, Senegal and Burkina Faso which are leading the charge listen to what they contributed. Senegal is contributing one commando company, one motorised infantry company, and one battalion headquarters, take note, headquarters, not a battalion, one battalion headquarters with level two hospital. Benin decided to contribute only one mechanised company! One mechanised company!

It is getting more and more interesting. Now you can see the point I am making. Togo, Togo decided to commit one motorised company, and a possible commando company. A “possible”, it is not definite, commando company. Mali decided to contribute one transport company, one engineer company, and one motorised company.

Burkina Faso, Blaise Campoore’s Burkina Faso. Blaise Campoore who is touring the world to make the case for military intervention. He has been to Britain, he’s been to France, he is all over the place! Look at his contribution and you would laugh! Blaise Campoore’s contribution, Burkina Faso’s contribution is one mechanised infantry company, one commando company, and one engineer company. These are the contributions they are making.

This is a reflection of the commitment of West African leaders to war in La Côte d’Ivoire!

Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.: Nigeria’s contribution is this. One motorised or mechanised battalion. One! One F-17 Fighter Squadron,

Dr. Tony Aidoo: A squadron is five people.
Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.; Yeah. One M-135 squadron, one single company and battalion headquarters. Headquarters-ooh? Sea assets, and additional one or two infantry companies, as may be required. And indeed, Nigeria is making the highest contribution.

Dr. Tony Aidoo: They don’t even reach two thousand!

Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.: Master, this force is going to La Côte d’Ivoire to wage war against a regular professional army of eleven thousand men! This is the force that is going to La Côte d’Ivoire to wage war against a regular professional army of eleven thousand men!
… this is their death warrant being signed!

Dr. Tony Aidoo: Suicide mission.
Kwesi Pratt, Jnr..: This is a suicide mission! Suicide mission! My brother, listen to me very carefully. If you have been to Abidjan before, Abidjan is a densely populated city, with high rise buildings and so on To be able to take Abidjan, you need have total air domination. You need to have troops which would take complete control of the ground and so on. In fact, the estimates to be able to do that, the interventionist force needs not less than twenty thousand men, to be able to do this effectively and to do it quickly.

And yet, our leaders in Africa think that with less than two thousand men, and outdated equipment and so on, they will be able to do it! God bless them! They are only sentencing their soldiers to death, painful death on the streets of La Côte d’Ivoire.

I am happy that our Commander-In-Chief, and President, has taken the wise decision not push Ghanaian soldiers into this reckless adventure! The lives of Ghanaian soldiers are important to us!”

The AU is currently asking a group of African leaders to persuade Gbagbo to step down. Their mandate has been extended through February. So far it looks like a stalemate. Ouattara is recognized the winner by the international community, the US and France feature prominently among those declaring Ouattara the winner, and appear to have engineered the announcement that Ouattara won. So it behooves us to examine exactly what happened. The information below comes from Kwesi Pratt (1) Dr. Nfor N. Susungi (2) and The Socialist Forum of Ghana (3). You can listen to Kwesi Pratt’s interview on Radio Gold.

THE FACTS ON THE GROUND

“Now if you are going to respect the facts, what are the facts?

The African Union, which has joined ECOWAS and the UN in insisting on the military option, and insisting that Ouattara won the elections in La Côte d’Ivoire, sent an observer team to La Côte d’Ivoire to observe both the first round and the second round of the elections. The African Union Team was led by Koku Koffigoh, former Prime Minister of Togo.

At the end of the elections, Koku Kofigoh, made a public statement in Abidjan to the effect that the results of the elections were not credible. They were not credible! And that they were vitiated by extreme violence, stuffing of ballot boxes and so on. Indeed it is interesting that two of the AU observers were kidnapped by the New Forces, and it took the intervention of the United Nations to secure their release.

AU sends an Observer Mission, the Observer Mission says the elections are not credible, and yet the AU declares a winner! And insists that we should go to war in order to make the “winner” the President, when its own Observer Mission, headed by a former Prime Minister, says that the elections were not credible!” (1)

Dr. Nfor N. Susungi provides more detail:

Was the Presidential Election in Cote d’Ivoire Free and Fair?

For once, this is the easiest question to answer because the simple answer is NO. It was not possible to conduct free and fair elections in a country which was still cut in half with the rebel Forces Nouvelles (under the direct Command and control of Prime Minister Soro Guillaume) still controlling the northern half, having resisted all attempts to get them to disarm as required by the so-called Accords Politique de Ouagadougou. In spite of the fact that not even ONUCI with nearly 9,000 troops had succeeded in getting the rebels to disarm before the election, pressure was brought by the US and France, through the United Nations, for the elections to proceed.

The exactions that took place during the elections by armed groups in the rebel controlled north were detailed in consistent and concordant reports presented by various observer groups, including that of the African Union led by former Togolese Prime Minister Joseph Koffi KOFFIGOH, who all concluded that the scale of electoral abuses in the northern zone were on such a scale as to discredit the sincerity of the vote in many areas in the North.

Curiously, Curiously, Curiously, we started hearing voices to the effect that the credibility of local (African) observers was questionable. That is because the reports of European and American observers had already given passing marks to the entire election. The racist undertone to the denigrating commentary directed at African observers was absolutely unmistakable. That is when we all began to suspect that there was a grand agenda in this election which was not known to the public.

So who won the last election in Cote d’Ivoire?

Anyone who claims that they know, for sure, that either Allassane Dramane Ouattara or Laurent Gbagbo won the election is fiddling with the truth. …

The only thing that we know with absolute certainty is that Mr. Youssouf Bakayoko, the President of the CEI, having failed to announce the preliminary results within the stipulated 72-hour period, transmitted the election materials to the Constitutional Council after midnight on Wednesday 1/12/2010. Then on Thursday 2/12/2010 he went to Alassane’s campaign HQ at Golf Hotel to attend a press conference and ended up declaring Allassane the winner in a 3 minute speech. None were more stunned at this development than his fellow members of the CEI who were completely taken unawares.

The second thing that we know for sure is that Youssouf Bakayoko announcement at Golf Hotel was carried live on France 24 and other foreign media and that no Ivorian news network was present. The third thing which we know for sure is that the Constitutional Council declared Youssouf Bakayoko’s results invalid for being made after 72-hour deadline and for making it single-handedly in the campaign HQ of one candidate. The Constitutional Council went on to declare on Friday 3/12/2010 Gbagbo the final winner of the election after ruling on the validity petitions which were filed by Gbagbo to the Constitutional Council.

The last thing that we know with absolute certainty is that everyone seems to have taken sides since then and depending on whether you support Laurent Gbagbo or Allassane Dramane Ouattara, each side has been tuning only into the news networks which amplify the information which is favourable to their point of view.

The Constitution vs. the United Nations

Paul Yao Ndre is a Constitutional Lawyer of impeccable credentials and the ruling of the Constitutional Council under his Presidency cannot be dismissed just because he is reportedly a friend of Laurent Gbagbo. Whatever the case, since his ruling, he has come forward to defend the legal grounds on which he made his rulings whereas, nothing has been heard of Mr. Youssouf Bakayoko since he announced the results at Golf Hotel. The question is where is he and why has he gone into hiding? Who and what is he afraid of?

In all fairness to the camp of Allassane Dramane Ouattara, they may have been inclined to accept fatalistically the decision of the Constitutional Council … But unfortunately they were encouraged to engage in dissidence by the belief that there is another jurisdiction above the Constitutional Council when Mr. Choi, the UN Representative publicly disowned the results of the Constitutional Court by “certifying” that the winner of the election was Mr. Allassane Dramane Ouattara.

I listened, live, to the press briefing of Mr. Choi on ONUCI FM at which Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, a well-known Ghanaian journalist asked him, “Are you saying that there are two Presidents in Cote d’Ivoire now?” Mr. Choi replied in the affirmative. From that moment, I knew that Cote d’Ivoire was heading for an abyss and Mr. Choi was a very dangerous international civil servant who had triggered something very sinister which was now unstoppable.” (2)

U.N. mission chief to Ivory Coast Y.J. Choi (L) attends a meeting with Ivory Coast's Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan December 9, 2010. The U.N. Security Council has backed Ouattara as the winner of Ivory Coast's disputed Nov. 28 presidential election. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

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The Socialist Forum of Ghana fills in more detail with some thought to the long range consequences:

“It is clear that both leaders enjoy significant support and that their supporters genuinely believe that others seek to cheat them out of deserved victory. The imposition of either leader on Ivoirians can only escalate the conflict. La Cote d’Ivoire deserves better.

Pan-African activists must challenge recent declarations made in the names of ECOWAS and the AU as well as the processes through which our regional bodies make critical decisions. The “AU” position was announced by a secretariat official without Council approval and purely on the basis of the supposed ECOWAS position. The Abuja ECOWAS summit itself was attended by only 5 out of 15 eligible heads of State and was apparently conducted on the basis of their “seniority” – i.e. longevity in office. Three of the heads of state present (Presidents Jonathan of Nigeria, Wade of Senegal and Compaore of Burkina Faso) endorsed Ouattara. Presidents Sirleaf-Johnson of Liberia and Mills of Ghana urged caution and engagement. The only other ECOWAS leader that has taken a public position on the matter (President Jammeh of Gambia) has come out in support of President Gbagbo. Three out of sixteen is hardly a democratic majority. It is certainly inadequate for making life and death decisions affecting millions. That the majority of ECOWAS leaders have not spoken to the Ivoirian elections whether of reluctance to attract scrutiny to their own electoral credentials or fear of antagonising the “international community” or sheer short sighted indifference is simply not acceptable. We must demand more of our leaders.

More fundamentally we must challenge the narrative that suggests that La Cote d’Ivoire’s problem is an electoral one. A credible election in La Cote d’Ivoire would help to resolve the larger political crisis. However, the election dispute is only the most immediate of the deep divisions that afflict Ivoirians like. The fundamental division that drives African politics is the division between the incredibly wealthy foreign and local elites that control continental resources and the dispossessed and oppressed African poor that have to sell their labour and surrender their dignity to these elite machines just to survive. This fundamental division in African society has been compounded across the continent by many decades of elite divide-and-rule tactics that promoted secondary identity differences between ordinary working Ivoirians precisely to prevent them from uniting and challenging the elites responsible for their misery.” (3)

[Note: Horace Campbell provides more detail and background on Ivory Coast's recent history, particularly the divisions mentioned above that have been ruthlessly exploited by the powerful to retain power, quoted here in January.]

“In Cote La d’Ivoire several factors allowed those identity divisions to take on a life of their own in the 21st century. These included the growing challenge to French neo-colonial hegemony in West Africa from the US and from certain regional interests. These also included the collapse of local elite coherence following the death of President Houphouet-Boigny. As neo-colonial power fragmented in the mid-2000s identity politics degenerated to militarisation and partition and a massive increase in the woes of the Ivoirian people. Obviously, the imposition by the “international community” of Alassane Ouattara on such a deeply divided society will not solve the La Cote d’Ivoire crisis. What it will do is however is advance the overall cause of neo-colonialism and set the scene for further conflict between France and the US and allied regional powers for control over La Cote d’Ivoire and regional resources – in particular oil and gas.” (3)

In the western media you will not see much about oil being an issue in Ivory Coast. The news stories all talk about cocoa. But if you look at the map above you can see the significance. And no doubt the prospect of oil money makes the Ivorian presidential contenders more contentious. Oil is most certainly the reason AFRICOM’s General Hogg was seeking troop commitments in January for military intervention.

ON COUNTING THE VOTES

Kwesi Pratt tells us more about the vote counts:

“… take the Vallée du Bandama region in La Côte d’Ivoire, the Electoral Commission comes up with votes, you understand, votes, for Ouattara, you add those votes, they come to one hundred and forty nine thousand votes, and yet the declaration of results gives Ouatarra two hundred and forty four thousand votes! Who would accept this? You go to some other constituencies, turn-out, eh? Is two hundred and fifty per cent of registered voters! Two hundred and fifty per cent of registered voters! Who would accept those results?

Indeed, I asked my colleague and friend, Comrade Kwesi Adu, to do an analysis of the election results, because he does these things. He was an election observer in Guinea and so on, so he is so good at it. And I asked him to do an analysis. In one constituency, Gbagbo won one hundred and eighty per cent of all the registered voters. In the same constituency Ouattara won one hundred and something per cent of registered voters. How do you accept these results? How can you say that these results represent the will of the Ivorian people? By what magic?

So, either people are deliberately lying, or they don’t know the facts, or they are being insincere in the discussion of the Ivorian crisis.” (1)

THE IVORIAN CONSTITUTION

Pratt continues to describe the constitutional issues:

“What Does The Law Of La Côte d’Ivoire Say?
The law of La Côte d’Ivoire says it very clearly that the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire declares provisional results. That those provisional results ought to be validated by the Constitutional Council. That is what the law says. So, the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire, does not declare who a winner is. It only declares provisional results. It is only the Constitutional Council of La Côte d’Ivoire, which can declare a winner in an election.

Then you have some apologists of Ouattara, they come up and they say, look, the legal position is that that provision of La Côte d’Ivoire Constitution was suspended because an agreement was reached under UN auspices! My brother, this is a joke! Is anybody telling me that the UN, ECOWAS, AU, or any International organisation, can amend the constitution of a country, without reference to the people of that country? Does it make sense?

Even if you accept that the Electoral Commission of La Côte d’Ivoire is an independent Commission, and you accept that the final constitutional authority for declaring results is the Constitutional Council, what you do have in La Côte d’Ivoire is a situation where the electoral Commission has declared one result, and the Constitutional Council has declared another result. What you do have is a political crisis! It is an issue of the legitimacy of two state institutions.
Do You Resolve That By Going To War?”
(1)

Pratt compares the situation to the recent elections in Belarus and in Egypt, in which nobody suggested interfering or sending in troops, despite questions of legitimacy.

“So they [the international community] are acting clearly from a self-interest point of view! And we say, that our self-interest does not matter! So when the President says “Dzi wo fie asem”, then there is a problem! But all of them, every one of them, France, the United States, Britain, all of them they are “dzing their fie asem”! All of them!

None of them is doing what they are doing because they love West Africans more than themselves! They are doing it because of their interests in the strategic resources of La Côte d’Ivoire!

And that is why it is important for us to wake up to that reality and to begin to raise the fundamental questions of law and constitutionality.” (1)

Dr. Nfor N. Susungi tells us more about the constitutional issues:

“The real adversary standing between Allassane Dramane Ouattara and the Presidency of Cote d’Ivoire is not Laurent Gbagbo; it is Professor Paul Yao Ndre, the President of the Constitutional Council. Contrary to what many people seem to think, Paul Yao Ndre is a very able and independent-minded legal thinker who is sure about the legal grounds on which he made his ruling. He has full constitutional powers to make any ruling on the regularity of any aspects of the electoral process including, above all, on the validity of the announcement which was made by Youssouf Bakayoko at Golf Hotel.

On this particular point, his ruling was that the announcement was null and void because it was made after 72-hour foreclosure deadline and in the partisan context of the campaign HQ of one candidate. This is the most important ruling made by Professor Paul Yao Ndre and it is valid and binding. Any one challenging this ruling is attacking an institution, not a person.

The venom which is being poured prematurely on Professor Paul Yao Ndre at the moment is a serious mistake with which the United States should not be associated because even if an ECOWAS intervention force dislodges Laurent Gbagbo, the Armed Forces of Cote d’Ivoire will never swear their allegiance to defend Allassane as President unless he is sworn-in by Professor Paul Yao Ndre. As things stand at the moment, even if the Presidency became vacant, Allassane cannot claim it automatically because Professor Paul Yao Ndre will have no grounds for swearing-in Allassane to occupy the post of President.

The Role of Regional Organizations
Equally shocking has been the role of regional organizations which took their decisions without bothering to hear both sides of the story. Allassane Dramane Ouattara has been proclaimed winner by the “International Community” while Laurent Gbagbo has been declared winner by the Constitutional Council of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire. None can ignore the other because each one of them can claim to be standing on solid ground.
Clearly, the Ivorian crisis is breaking new ground in defining a new constitutional jurisdiction transcending the concept of sovereign states as defined and understood under the UN and AU charter. That new and emerging constitutional jurisdiction is known vaguely as “the International Community”. The powers that his new jurisdiction has arrogated to itself include the power to certify elections in a sovereign state and to declare war on a sovereign state. It is not yet clear whether the Ivorian crisis is a one-off situation or whether it is part of an emerging trend.

If it is part of a trend, then it is necessary for the world to get together very quickly and adopt some convention defining who “the International Community” is and what are its powers of intervention in the affairs of sovereign states. Failing that, we should expect that the world, and more particularly Africa, will enter a period of political instability on a scale never known before.

It is regrettable that it is only after the last ECOWAS summit unilaterally declared war on Laurent Gbagbo that they finally decided to send a delegation to deliver the ultimatum to Laurent Gbagbo. This is a watershed event in African history. The damage is already done. If the ECOWAS war does breakout, Africa will face its greatest challenge since the advent of independence in the Gold Coast in 1957. ECOWAS and UEMOA are now in deep trouble. The break-up of ECOWAS is on the cards if war breaks out and the withdrawal of Cote d’Ivoire from the CFA zone is also a possibility.” (2)

THE WHOLE PICTURE

Kwesi Pratt quotes His Excellency, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, The President Of Angola, who sums up the issues clearly and unequivocally.

“The facts specifically tell us the following;

One: The president of the Electoral Commission released the results of the second round of the presidential election, when it was out of his competence to do so, since his time, for purposes defined by law, was expired and since the issue had been transferred to the Constitutional Council for due consideration and treatment.

Two: The United Nations representative in Côte d’Ivoire in a hastened move, certified and announced those results when the relevant UN resolution states that the certification should focus on election results validated by the Constitutional Council, which had not yet made a pronouncement.

Three: The declaration by the United Nations representative misled the whole international community.”

And Listen very carefully,. The President of Angola says:

“The declaration by the United Nations representative misled the whole international community, since the Constitutional Council had not validated the provisional results released by the president of the Electoral Commission as a result of having accepted objections and complaints of serious irregularities and fraud which undermined these results.

Four: The Constitutional Council is in fact the only organ with the legal competence to validate and publish the final results of the elections.

Five: Under the law, The Constitutional Council should recommend the holding of new elections within 45 days, but it did not proceed in this manner and instead reported results that attributed the victory to another candidate.

Considering the above facts, it is difficult for Angola to accept that there is an elected president in La Côte d’Ivoire.

We believe however, that there is a constitutional president…,”

And this is very important, listen to the Angolan position:

“We believe however, that there is a constitutional president, the current president of the republic, who happens to be Laurent Gbagbo, who must remain in power until the new election as established by the electoral law of that country. The greatest difficulty now is that the 45 days are not enough to create a favourable climate for elections, and the current crisis complicates the matter further.

We are therefore of the opinion that any military intervention in the particular case of Côte d’Ivoire would have an adverse effect, with serious consequences beyond its borders.

The Angolan Executive supports and encourages dialogue and negotiations to overcome the crisis in this brother country, and believes that by demonstrating political will, wisdom, and realism, it is possible to find a solution that focuses, first and foremost, on the legitimate interests of all the people of Côte d’Ivoire.” (1)

Why does the international community want military intervention? The forces proposed are obviously hopelessly inadequate for the job. Nothing could be accomplished by them except to provoke instability and prolonged civil war. Is instability and civil war the objective? Would that help neo-colonial predators extract natural resources on their own terms? (death and suffering for you, money for us) Military intervention will burn all the parties involved, except perhaps certain multinational corporations engaged in extractive industries.

Côte d’Ivoire is in a state of profound political and constitutional crisis over the legitimacy of state institutions The imposition of either leader on Ivorians can only escalate the conflict. War will escalate the problems and delay any solutions. The country needs dialog and peaceful negotiations and diplomatic assistance. Angola’s President is correct in stating that Côte d’Ivoire has a constitutional president, but not an elected one. Ultimately Côte d’Ivoire needs to hold a new election. Although that may not help until it comes to better terms with who gets to vote, who runs the polls, and who counts the votes. The international community needs to back off from stepping in and overriding the constitution of a sovereign nation.

DAKAR, Senegal (Nov. 8, 2007) – Electrician’s Mate 1st Class James Lamberson congratulates Senegalese Sailors, aboard the Amphibious Dock Landing Ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), after their completion of training from Expeditionary Training Command and Africa Partnership Station (APS). APS aims to bring international training teams to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, and will support more than 20 humanitarian assistance projects in addition to hosting information exchanges and training with partner nations during its seven-month deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class RJ Stratchko ( 071108-N-8933S-060 RELEASED)
DAKAR, Senegal (Nov. 7, 2007) – Senegalese sailors receive hands-on training from Electrician’s Mate 1st Class James Lamberson while Lt. Cmdr Fru Fon Clement, a Cameroon naval officer embarked with the Africa Partnership Station (APS) international staff, translates during basic approach drills. APS aims to bring international training teams to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, and will support more than 20 humanitarian assistance projects in addition to hosting information exchanges and training with partner nations aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class R.J. Stratchko (071107-N-8933S-125 RELEASED)

Both pictures are from the US Navy story on training the Senegalese Navy. From the story:

“In three days you learn a lot, but it isn’t very much time. The next time I hope to train for one week, two weeks, or a month. It’s good for my Army,” said Senegalese Marine Staff Sergeant, Fode Camara.

The Senegalese Sailors and Marines learned about preventative maintenance, combat lifesaving, self defense and small boat maintenance and handling.

“I’m very happy to train with United States Navy. I am very happy to do it, and I want to do more,” said Camara. “Everything we learn is new. Now, when I return to my Army, I want to teach a young boy these new techniques.”

For more news from USS Fort McHenry, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lsd43/.

Juliana Taiwo, who has done some excellent reporting on AFRICOM for ThisDay in Nigeria, reports that:

Chief of Defence Staff, General Andrew Azazi, has said despite Liberian government’s clamour to host AFRICOM, ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff (CDS) would have the final say.

The President and Vice President of Liberia both reiterated their support of AFRICOM.

Azazi said though Liberia is a sovereign country, AFRICOM was a bit more technical to be treated as politics.

“The President addressed it when she met with us and the Vice President said ECOWAS should support Liberia, but what we feel is that nobody at the political level in African Union or ECOWAS knows enough about AFRICOM to make categorical statements. We are advocating that is not an issue for Chiefs of Defence Staff solely, we are advocating that at the political level, there should be either bilateral or multilateral interactions to create awareness to convince African leaders that AFRICOM will be good for Africa. What it means is that Africa must be willing to accept AFRICOM before it is sited. So if Liberia already is thinking of hosting AFRICOM, maybe they have a better understanding than the rest of them, but like the President told us, there are two things, we (the ECOWAS CDS) are going to discuss AFRICOM if our advise is that it is not good for the continent it will be rejected and if it is good, it will be accepted. Otherwise, the general understanding is that AFRICOM is suppose to be good for capacity building, but what we are saying is that we should have a better understanding of all that is going to come about, let’s create awareness, let’s be a partnership that will help both sides,” he said.

Defence sources in Nigeria had in September, disclosed that the Nigerian government was already making serious diplomatic inquiries into the US government’s establishment of a military base for Africa in Stuttgart.

This sounds like the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff are trying to act together and in accord, and that they are not interested in letting one country break ranks. As I understand this, if West Africa were to host AFRICOM, there has to be more information forthcoming from the US, and agreement between West African governments that it works to their advantage. I wonder if this solidarity will hold. And I wonder how this advantage, or lack of it, will be measured. I wish the CDS success in this endeavor. I don’t see how the US can provide information that will genuinely answer the CDS questions. The US has been telling Africans that AFRICOM is not all the things the US media tells the US public that it is.

The USS Fort McHenry in Dakar Senegal. This picture was attributed to a US Navy photographer by the State Department. Then later MSNBC attributed it to an AP photographer, Rebecca Blackwell. As per a comment from b real, this change in attribution looks rather like state propaganda.

Also from the State Department: Africans will be ferried to their floating school, the USS Fort McHenry, via a high-speed Swift boat. (U.S. Navy)

Africa Partnership Station (APS), embarked aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), escorts news media into a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), while the Senegalese navy displays their training.
DAKAR, Senegal (Nov. 7, 2007) – Africa Partnership Station (APS), embarked aboard amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), escorts news media into a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), while the Senegalese navy displays their training to enhance regional and maritime safety and security. APS is scheduled to bring international training teams to Senegal, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe, and will support more than 20 humanitarian assistance projects in addition to hosting information exchanges and training with partner nations during its seven-month deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class R.J. Stratchko (RELEASED)

At a military ECOWAS meeting in Liberia:

West African military chiefs charged that the United States has failed to adequately consult with countries that will be affected by a planned American military command for Africa.
. . .

“The heads of state should be fully briefed; the heads of state should ask pertinent questions that will give them the direction to cooperate fully,” said Col. Toure Mahamane, head of political affairs, peace and security with the commission of the 15-member Economic Community Of West African States, or ECOWAS.

He said the U.S. had neglected such procedures in a disregard for common “due process” on the continent.

Meanwhile the USS Fort McHenry is off the coast of West Africa, and has begun its training mission off the coast of Senegal. For an excellent summary of the history of AFRICOM, and how the AFRICOM spending is being planned see:

Africom: The new US military command for Africa by Daniel Volman.

. . . the difference between Africom and other commands—and the allegedly “unfounded” nature of its implications for the militarization of the continent—are not as real or genuine as the Bush administration officials would have us believe. Of course Washington has other interests in Africa besides making it into another front in its Global War on Terrorism, maintaining and extending access to energy supplies and other strategic raw material, and competing with China and other rising economic powers for control over the continent’s resources; these include helping Africans deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other emerging diseases, strengthening and assisting peacekeeping and conflict resolution efforts, and responding to humanitarian disasters. But it is simply disingenuous to suggest that accomplishing these three objectives is not the main reason that Washington is now devoting so much effort and attention to the continent. And of course Washington would prefer that selected friendly regimes take the lead in meeting these objects, so that the United States can avoid direct military involvement in Africa . . . The hope that the Pentagon can build up African surrogates who can act on behalf of the United States is precisely why Washington is providing so much security assistance to these regimes and why it would like to provide even more in the future. Indeed, as argued below, this is actually one of the main reasons that Africom is being created at this time.
. . .
U.S.S. Fort McHenry amphibious assault ship will begin a six-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea in November 2007. The ship will carry 200-300 sailors and U.S. Coast Guard personnel and will call at ports in eleven countries (Angola, Benin, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo). Its mission will be to serve as a “floating schoolhouse” to train local forces in port and oil-platform security, search-and rescue missions, and medical and humanitarian assistance. According to Admiral Ulrich, the deployment matches up perfectly with the work of the new Africa Command. “If you look at the direction that the Africa Command has been given and the purpose of standing up the Africom, you’ll see that the (Gulf of Guinea) mission is closely aligned,” he told reporters.

The perfect match Admiral Ulrich describes is also a perfect match for training African surrogates to act for US interests. Volman provides some breakdown of AFRICOM related budget appropriations and requests. According to the figures he provides, it looks like a lot more is being spent on military arms and equipment than on any “humanitarian” endeavors. What is also interesting is the money that was not requested:

African Coastal and Border Security Program (ACBS Program)

This program provides specialized equipment (such as patrol vessels and vehicles, communications equipment, night vision devices, and electronic monitors and sensors) to African countries to improve their ability to patrol and defend their own coastal waters and borders from terrorist operations, smuggling, and other illicit activities. In some cases, airborne surveillance and intelligence training also may be provided. In FY 2006, the ACBS Program received nearly $4 million in FMF funding, and Bush administration requested $4 million in FMF funding for the program in FY 2007. No dedicated funding was requested for FY 2008, but the program may be revived in the future.

What appears to me to be the current greatest threat to civil society along the coast of West Africa is organized crime, and right now the cocaine trade is the major problem for Ghana. There is also heroin, illegal oil bunkering, and human traffiking, and illegal fishing. And all of these (including the fishing?) are one and the same with the arms trade. Illegal goods are used to pay for arms. And arms are used to pay for illegal goods. The African Coastal and Border Security Program (ACBS Program) sounds like it would help African countries protect themselves. Protecting themselves is one of the reasons AFRICOM spokesman Theresa Whelan has given for the command. As the State Department article puts it:

The USS Fort McHenry arrived off the coast of West Africa in November to lead an international team of experts that will train African sailors to confront the daily challenges of illegal fishing, piracy, drug trafficking and oil smuggling.

It is easy to add this lack of a funding request to the list of behaviors that make it look like the US is training Africans to act in US interests, and not in their own interests. Although I am profoundly skeptical about US military assistance in Africa, this is the area where it could conceivably be helpful. The US war on drugs has been a resounding failure. The US training for Latin American military has been a breeding ground for coups and crime. So maybe Africa is better off without that kind of help. But the fact that no 2008 funding was requested for this program is worth noting.

It does not look like any country is turning down the training the US is offering. I think it would be foolish to do so. It is always useful to see first hand what your “neighbors” are doing and planning, particularly if they are concealing their motives and intentions.

Before Bush, US military training was the best in the world. Now, with the Bush administration reliance on mercenaries, and with the US military increasingly deployed in Iraq without adequate protective gear, training, or rests between deployments, the US military is in serious trouble. What effect this will have in Africa remains to be seen. Oversupplies of arms and mercenaries look like the biggest danger.

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