elections


Kenya held its presidential election on March 4th. Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as president on April 8. A number of candidates were competing. The winner, with 50.07% of the vote, Uhuru Kenyatta, is son of the first president, Jomo Kenyatta.  Uhuru is the richest man in Kenya according to Forbes .  His victory was challenged in court by the nearest runner up, Raila Odinga, but the Kenya Supreme Court upheld Kenyatta’s victory. Odinga probably won the previous election in 2007, but the counting was shut down and the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, encouraged by the US ambassador, made an electoral coup.

Uhuru Kenyatta is under indictment by the Internation Criminal Court for crimes against humanity following Kenya’s 2007 election. Since the election the witnesses against him and his Deputy President William Ruto, a long time associate of former President Moi, have been recanting their testimony and otherwise withdrawing. There are strong rumors of threats and intimidation of the witnesses.

Regarding the 2007 election, b real writes this comment on March 11 2013:

my read of events in 2007 was that kibaki lost fairly but the u.s., alone at first among external handlers, refused to let odinga win — [US ambassador] rannenberger even spoke openly of this –and managed to get odinga to allow himself to concede w/ the shared post and idea that he would be groomed to win in the next eletion, once he had proven his competence at running this anchor nation approvingly. he believed the u.s. But now rannenberger is gone and things are a little different.

There are those that say the US now needs Kenya more than Kenya needs the US.

In addition to a variety of businesses, Uhuru is:

. . . heir to some of the largest land holdings in Kenya. He owns at least 500,000 acres of prime land spread across the country. The land was acquired by his father in the 1960s and 1970s when the British colonial government and the World Bank funded a settlement transfer fund scheme that enabled government officials and wealthy Kenyans to acquire land from the British at very low prices.

Forbes called Uhuru the richest man in Kenya, but that position is probably held by Daniel arap Moi, president of Kenya 1978-2002. However, most of Moi’s holdings and business dealings are not publicly available information.  Moi is widely perceived as Uhuru’s mentor.

All Kenya's presidents in one room more that 30 yrs Ago. Thanks to Digital Records Tech.

All Kenya’s presidents in one room more that 30 yrs Ago, left to right: Jomo Kenyatta, Uhuru Kenyatta, Mwai Kibaki, Daniel arap Moi. Thanks to Digital Records Tech. Looks more like oligarchy than democracy.

The immediate concern of ordinary Kenyans will be how the incoming government implements a new Constitution designed to devolve power and money to the counties. The document is seen as the key safeguard against a return to the “winner-takes-all” system of old. But historians warn that when Kenya tried devolved governance before, at independence in 1963, the experiment was swiftly sabotaged by Uhuru’s father, Jomo Kenyatta.

Kenya's fourth president, Uhuru Kenyatta, receiving the IEBC certificate

Kenya’s fourth president, Uhuru Kenyatta, receiving the IEBC certificate

Celebrations in Nairobi following the 2013 election

Celebrations in Nairobi following the 2013 election

Looking back over recent electoral history:

December 29th, 2002

Moi. Is. Going. There was a time you didn’t dare speak the words.

My father’s voice exults over static from Nairobi to San Francisco.

Kenya’s election results are rolling in. Mwai Kibaki, the presidential candidate fielded by the rainbow coalition of opposition parties, has won 65% of the vote. Titans of single party rule have lost their seats. An unprecedented eleven women have been elected to parliament. The era of Daniel Arap Moi, and the ruling party KANU, who have plundered Kenya at will for 24 years, is over.

For Kenyans, this is the Berlin Wall coming down. This is a Florida recount where the truth prevails. Kenyans were killed for this. People were tortured, exiled, imprisoned, for resisting single-party rule. I never believed I would see it end in my lifetime.

I’m glued to my monitor, shooting jubilant emails to other Kenyans in Boston, London, New York. We are sitting up all night watching results come in. Tears of hope and renewed pride rolling down our faces.

December 27th, 2007

A record eight million Kenyans rise as early as four a.m. to vote. We queue for up to ten hours, in the sun, without food, drink, toilets. I know a woman who gets out of her hospital bed, pulls the drip out of her neck, crosses the city on matatu and foot with bloodstained bandages visible – to vote. The country speaks through the ballot. Against greed. Against corruption. Against neo-colonialism. Against feudalism. It is the largest, best organized non-violent mass protest in our history.

Opposition observer. Says the tally just announced is different from the one he confirmed in the constituency.…..

The anchor is reporting from outside the conference center. There has been a power blackout at Kenyatta International Conference Center. The media have been ejected by paramilitary police who are arriving in trucks…..

Then, all the channels go dead, except for the government mouthpiece KBC.

There are only three tribes in Kenya. The haves. The wanna-haves. The have-them-removed.

Father Jomo Kenyatta and son Uhuru Kenyatta

Father Jomo Kenyatta and son Uhuru Kenyatta

Patrick Gathara is a talented artist, cartoonist, and fan of biting political cartoons, see KenyaToons or Scarycature. He also writes a blog that is particularly useful for understanding the recent election in Kenya, Gathara’s World, which also features some of his artwork. He is a keen and profound observer. Here are some of his observations, please visit the links for more information and more context.

We had already normalized the abnormal, making it seem perfectly acceptable to have two ICC-indicted politicians on the ballot. At the first presidential debate, moderator Linus Kaikai had been more concerned with how Uhuru Kenyatta would “govern if elected president and at the same time attend trial as a crimes against humanity subject” and not whether he should be running at all. Any suggestion of consequences for Uhuru’s and William Ruto’s candidature had been rebuffed with allegations of neo-colonialism, interference and an implied racism. People who had spent their adult lives fighting for Kenyans’ justice and human rights were vilified as stooges for the imperialistic West for suggesting that the duo should first clear their names before running for the highest office in the land.
March 10,2013

 

Those who oppose impunity, who take a stand against corruption and electoral malpractice, who demand the freedom to speak their thoughts or dress as they wish – these are today’s enemies.

I can’t help wondering whether we have just struck a grand bargain with our murderous elite. Whether we have not traded in justice for peace and values for prosperity. A laptop for our kids and superhighways, virtual and real –these are today’s struggles. Notions of equality and accountability are so yesterday. The imperialist West with its flaky notions of freedom and human rights and its flailing economies no longer holds any attraction for us. We prefer the hard pragmatists in the East. Our new political model is China. What does it matter if you break a few eggs to bake the national cake? Liberal democracy may sound nice but it won’t put food on the table.
April 5, 2013

 

National security has always been the excuse of choice for repressive governments seeking to clamp down on dissent. It is such an attractive ploy because the definition of what constitutes national security, let alone a threat to it, is not only extremely vague but very much dependent on what shadowy figures with “intelligence” declare it to be.

In 2007, so we are told, historical grievances, sparked by the refusal to accept a stolen election, led to a spontaneous orgy of killing and destruction. This, I think, is largely a work of fiction. Or at best, it is a selective retelling. It seems pretty much everyone who has looked into it has concluded that most of the violence was premeditated and prearranged. Meetings had been held and targets pre-selected; pre-outraged thugs had been paid, prepped, armed and ferried about. Politicians and radio stations incited, homes and churches were burnt and people died.

Today, it is not the fact of pre-ordained violence that we are constantly reminded of. Rather, it is the refusal to accept the official version of events, what many saw as a plainly fraudulent outcome, that is portrayed as the casus belli. The narrative of our sojourn into hell has been spun as a consequence of defying our betters, of demanding to see the intelligence and make up our own minds.

To extricate ourselves from this pernicious ideology, we need to go back to the beginning. To recognise that we have been gullible and begin to reconstruct narratives that more accurately reflect the truth.
April 3, 2013

 

The idea of Kenya that had blossomed in 2002 thus proved to be nothing more than a transient phenomenon, a moon flower. Perhaps it was the irrational exuberance of youth that led us to believe that a different Kenya was possible; perhaps it was our sheltered upbringing as privileged members of an aspirational middle class nurtured on a diet of false patriotism, fantastical promises of development, western sitcoms and CNN. Perhaps we wanted to see in ourselves something that wasn’t really there.

For Kenya had not been founded as a community of Kenyans but as a playground for the privileged. The uplifting of the living standards of the majority of the people has never seemed to be the goal of our politics and our politicians. As I have written before, it has always been about the wenyenchi, not the wananchi. Democracy, human rights and all other fashionable slogans have been for them little more than a pathway to power and riches.

Any who thought otherwise were quickly shunted aside. Today we glorify their courage as we trample underfoot everything they stood for.
March 19,2013
[Note: Wananchi literally means "people of the nation." However, it is not to be confused with wenyenchi, for which the closest English translation is "citizens" or "owners of the nation." Within the political discourse, these two terms are opposites; they suggest class distinction, between the majorities who live and work at local levels, and the elites who control the upper echelons of the nation.]

 

The richest man in Kenya is now its leader and in his first address has indicated that he is viewing our problems from a distinctly economic and technological angle. Throughout the inauguration ceremony, we heard promises of double digit economic growth, free laptops, free maternity health, a fund for women and youth.

But the events of the last month have exposed have exposed deep rifts in the national psyche that cannot be papered over with money alone.

In a very real sense, if President Uhuru Kenyatta is to live up to his promise of working towards “a rich and abiding peace,” he will have to confront the very system that has put him where he is. He, perhaps even more than the rest of the country, would need to confront and expose painful realities about the conduct of his family and its old friends. He would have to live up to his name and free himself, and thus his countrymen, from the shackles of the past. If he found the courage to do so, he might just be the best thing that ever happened to Kenya. So, Godspeed to him.

But we all know that this is unlikely to happen.
April 9, 2013

Overview of Ghana’s 2012 Presidential Election

 

On Friday Ghana will hold its Presidential Election.  Ghana presidential elections are on the same 4 year cycle as the United States, though the election is in December rather than November.  Presidents are limited to two terms, same as the United States.  This is the sixth presidential election since the end of military government.  Twice an incumbent loosing party has peacefully turned over power to the incoming winners of the election.  

The most respected pollster in Ghana, Ben Ephson, predicts that John Dramani Mahama of the NDC will win on the first round of balloting, and that the NDC will maintain a majority in parliament.

Below is a sample presidential ballot for this election. 

Sample ballot for Ghana’s 2012 Presidential election

You can find more information about each of the candidates at Ghana Decides. Click on the picture of a candidate and you’ll more information about that candidate. And you can follow news and commentary from Ghana Politics from GhanaWeb

There are a number of active political parties fielding presidential candidates, the main contest is between the NPP and the NDC. The NPP’s strongest area of support is in the Ashanti region, and the NPP candidate is Nana Akufo-Addo. The NDC’s strongest support comes from the Volta Region, although its presidential candidate, John Mahama, is originally from the Northern region. There is more information on Ghana’s regions here.

ghanaregions

Both parties have supporters throughout Ghana. Below you see totebags with the symbols of these two largest parties.

NDC and NPP tote bags for the 2012 Ghana Presidential Election

Savvy and enthusiastic young internet users in Ghana have carried on an active get out the vote effort on Facebook, BloggingGhana, BloGh, on Twitter #GhanaDecides, and Ghana Decides on Youtube. AlJazeera featured this internet presence in an article Turning Likes Into Votes.

A candidate they call “The Facebook president,” another who trended worldwide on Twitter, and a third who is speaking directly to voters via Google hangout. With only 10% internet penetration in a country with more than 14 million registered voters, what role will social media play in Ghana’s upcoming presidential election? And will online support for the candidates translate into offline votes?

In the days and months leading up to Ghana’s December 7 elections, candidates and civic organisations are using social media-savvy techniques to engage the Ghanaian electorate to get out the vote.

From #GhanaDedides comes word map of keywords used by the candidates, about the issues, and in news stories about the election.

2012 Ghana election keyword map

2012 Ghana election keyword map

Ghana has begun using biometric identification for voting. I have serious reservations about this, but will watch to see how it works. My question is who has access to this information, and who will gain access over time. We know the US government wants to collect biometric information on African political figures and activists based on the Wikileaks cables. We know the Pentagon is expanding its spy network in Africa.

 

Some electoral backstory

 

In 1992 Jerry John Rawlings ended his tenure as military leader of Ghana and was elected president. He was the flagbearer of the NDC party, which he founded. He won reelection in 1996, serving 8 years, which is the Ghana Constitutional limit, just like in the US. In 2000 he peacefully turned over power to the NPP and newly elected President Kufuor. Rawlings remains very popular but has bitter enemies as well, whose enmity he has earned. In 2000 his Vice President, John Evans Atta-Mills ran as the NDC candidate against John Kufuor, the NPP candidate. Many people thought it was time for a change, that the NDC had been running things long enough. Kufuor is a very likable guy, and he and the NPP won the 2000 election and were reelected in 2004.

Unfortunately the NPP leadership chose to work on enriching themselves rather than the country. Corruption has always been a problem, but Kufuor and the NPP leadership institutionalized corruption to new levels. They sold off Ghana’s assets and land to themselves and to foreign interests, and pocketed the profits. Money for public projects disappeared with nothing to show for it. Kufuor spent much of his terms in office traveling at taxpayer expense. In 2007 it was officially announced that significant deposits of offshore oil would be coming into production for Ghana from the Jubilee field. Kufuor arranged with Barclays Bank to set up Ghana with tax haven offshore banking.

In my observation, the NPP is very similar to the Republican party in the US. It is a party that wants to reward and advantage existing elites. Many of its leaders come from the families of people who were elites before colonialism, and enjoyed privileged status during the years of colonialism. Many of them opposed independence and then opposed the projects that would help Ghana become economically independent, such as the building of the Akosombo dam and Tema harbor. I think if the NPP had been able to dial down the corruption a bit, and produce a bit more, it would have stayed in power. The battle for votes and battles over counting the votes were fierce in the 2008 election, which went to three rounds. John Atta-Mills finally won the 2008 election. It was decided by one constituency, Tain, in the Brong-Ahafo region. Rawlings campaigned energetically for Mills. Rawlings had helped some to build up the area, but it had been mostly ignored during the tenure of the NPP. Roads were neglected and farmers could not get their cocoa to market to sell.

John Atta-Mills was distinguished by his rare degree of wisdom and honesty. That was not necessarily the case with the people around him. He was good natured and people worried he might not be a strong enough leader, though he could be tough. Rawlings wanted to continue running things through Mills and Mills quietly did not let him. Rawlings frequently railed against Mills from the sidelines throughout the 4 year term. Mills also successfully resisted the persuasions of US AFRICOM to send Ghanaian soldiers into Ivory Coast as US proxies in January 2011.

In July 2012 President Mills died suddenly and unexpectedly, though he was known to have health problems. In another democratic triumph, Ghana moved smoothly and quickly to swear in Vice President Mahama as President, following prescribed Constitutional procedures and without incident. At the time he died Mills was a very popular figure and the entire country mourned his passing. Mahama then became the NDC nominee for President and has shown himself to be knowledgeable and able.

In the NPP, Akufo-Addo, who was Kufuor’s Vice President, and who had run for President in 2008 was nominated again. In 2011 in a speech in Koforidua, speaking about his intentions for the election, in a voice shaking with intensity he said three times “all die be die”, meaning that violence is entirely acceptable if needed to win, deaths are an acceptable price for electoral victory. Akufo-Addo has shown himself prone to violence before, as when his bodyguards beat and killed fellow NPP member Seth Michael Ahyiah. Akufo-Addo has tried to weasle out of the meaning of all die be die, but has never withdrawn the words. Many are afraid he will stir up violence if he does not win. Soon thereafter the wild talking NPP member of parliament, Kennedy Agyepong saidif we do not win, Ghana will become like Rwandaand

… he has declared war on all Ewes living in the Ashanti region, and that the NPP activists in the region should attack Ewes with machetes and cutlasses. He warned that any security personnel who will try to keep the peace in the region will be lynched.

This did get Kennedy Agyepong in trouble with the law, as it should. And there are more recent reports of danger: Akufo-Addo’s all-die-be-die militants unmasked. NPP supporters are not the only source of danger and potential violence, but with “all die be die” they have been the most overt.

Most of the politicians and parties are urging peaceful behavior during the election, and that is a major message of the online electioneering. There is a strong push for peace and respect for the law from all parties.

I have dealt mainly with the political history and maneuvering here, without sufficient attention to the issues. For an understanding of the issues, you might do best listening to the IEA, Institute of Economic Affairs debates, which are on YouTube: IEA Debate in Tamale (30-10-12) [Full], and the edited IEA Final Presidential Debate (21-11-12). Overall my impression was that John Mahama was by far the most knowledgeable with the most breadth and depth of understanding. The most visionary platform (pdf) as I see it comes from the GCPP whose candidate is Henry Lartey, who wants to build a new solar energy based economy. I know little about him or the party, though his father was highly respected.

As mentioned above, you can find more information about each of the candidates at Ghana Decides Click on the picture of a candidate and you’ll find more information about that candidate. Wikipedia has articles on Ghana’s main political parties and candidates. And you can follow election news and commentary from GhanaWeb Ghana Elections 2012

 
 

Update December 9, 2012

John Mahama wins.
Dr. Afari-Gyan, head of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, reports all the votes have been counted and all constituencies have reported. 79.43% of Ghanaian voters turned out to vote.
John Mahama is President Elect with 50.70% of the vote.
Nana Akufo-Addo received 47.74%.

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.

I noted these selected paragraphs from articles I read today. The topics are most certainly related.

From an article in Nigeria’s Daily Independent:

On Sudan, my country Nigeria was made to ratify the break-up of that country into North and South so that the powerful nations can have access to the oil fields in the South which they currently cannot control under the incumbent regime. Will Nigeria allow UN to split it into North and South? Never! …

Gradually, White House is bringing Al Qaeda to Nigeria even when Nigeria has no issue with Al Qaeda. The US attempt to force its Africa Command (AFRICOM) base on Nigeria is responsible for the current bombings being tagged ‘Al Qaeda bombs’, so that Nigeria can accept the inevitability of US forces in Nigeria. What’s more, with CIA agents now prowling Nigeria, more bombings should be expected, as the US is determined to pursue its 2015 prediction that Nigeria will break-up. (Cornelius Segun Ojo)

——–

Which country has the biggest military budget per year?

——–

The US military budget in context

From the Narco News Bulletin:

State Department cables recently made public by WikiLeaks do seem to confirm that the U.S. government is very aware that much of the heavy firepower now in the hands of Mexican criminal organizations isn’t linked to mom-and-pop gun stores, but rather the result of blowback from U.S. arms-trading policies (both current and dating back to the Iran/Contra era) that put billions of dollars of deadly munitions into global trade stream annually.

As the death toll mounts in the drug war now raging in Mexico, it pays to remember that weapons trafficking, both government-sponsored and illegal, is a big business that feeds and profits off that carnage. Bellicose government policies, such as the U.S.-sponsored Merida Initiative, that are premised on further militarizing the effort to impose prohibition on civil society only serve to expand the profit margin on the bloodshed. (Pentagon Fingered as a Source of Narco-Firepower in Mexico)

There is an election this week in Uganda. Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire records some of her observations:

We have also seen Museveni try to tell the youth in the last few days, through the New Vision newspaper, which largely leads with his stories that they shouldn’t vote the opposition for it will sabotage a government plan to give them jobs. I don’t think Ugandan youth are fools to think that what a man has not done in 25 years can achieve in 5 years. Uganda produces about 400,000 graduates from higher institutions of learning every year but less than 50,000 jobs are created annually. President Museveni and his brother Salim Saleh have even gone into security business sending hundreds of Ugandan youth to Iraq and Afghanistan to reduce the numbers of idle youth. The truth is there’s no real plan for the youth and many will not be voting for the ruling party.

… But because many have for long trusted Museveni on security, few Ugandans bother to know or even ask why their sons are fighting in Somalia.

For a regime that has enjoyed such trust on security matters, there shouldn’t be thousands of police officers at every corner in Kampala right now. … no wonder people are now anxious …

We wait for the next three days and see if every home will have a policeman attached to it in the name of security.

Museveni is one of the US’s prized client dictators, sending proxy armies to Somalia and around the world, and also, a favorite of the US Africa Command.

Meanwhile, back at home in the US, the US government fails its own people and fails to do the job of governing:

Dear Poor People, Thank You for Going Without Heat So We Can Buy Another Week of War

As a result of your going without heat next winter, we will be able to afford almost one whole week of fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which cost about $468 million a day. Although when you add in the many hidden costs like increased long-term veteran’s health care due to the conflicts, your sacrifice is probably only really going to cover maybe half a week.

I hope you understand that when we had to choose between providing basic necessities to our citizens or fighting about five more days in Iraq and Afghanistan because of [insert newest justification here], we clearly just had to choose the wars over you.

These few bits of news are worth considering in relation to each other. Our choices have consequences.

May 10, 2011 introductory note: After reading and learning more I wrote Côte d’Ivoire – Military Intervention Vs Constitutional Legitimacy, which will tell you a great deal more about what actually happened and what next. It is summarized in the first part of this post: Humanitarian Invasion In Ivory Coast.

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Koranteng writes:

The usual practice when handing over to oneself is to hold back declaring results in your strongholds and wait until you know how many votes you need. …
Gbagbo and company couldn’t manage to do this, indeed the electoral commission that this sitting government had put in place took its job seriously and was remarkably independent – as well it should since a tremendous amount of effort had been put in place by Ivorians and the international community to stage these elections. The resort, then, was to say that the electoral commission did not have the right to declare the results. Which brings me again to that video clip I noted earlier that I’ve been stewing over ever since (… I recommend to everyone their closing line: “the elections have been canceled six times in the past five years.”). I haven’t seen a more perfect piece of political theater in years. Every actor played their part brilliantly.

Laurent Gbagbo (L) and Alassane Ouattara (R) laugh during a meeting in Abidjan in this November 27, 2010

When the next day, the head of the electoral commission did manage to sneak out and declare the results, the Gbagbo camp would remark that the declaration was invalid since it hadn’t been made within the requisite timeframe. In other words, the declaration that could have been made the prior night had turned into Cinderella’s carriage once midnight had passed.

What then followed would clearly demonstrate that Ivory Coast has had a fictitious election.

It would only be after the election results were declared that a ‘Constitutional Council’ would throw out the votes of 12 percent of the country so that the “results” would be in Gbagbo’s favour. Surely this must be the most innovative response to an electoral contest. …

First for 15 years ago, you say that a large part of your countrymen are not Ivorians, then you say that they are but that they can’t register, then you delay for 5 years, then you allow only some to register as you then delay registration and again delay the vote. Then the whole country votes and even your folks vote against you so that the opposition win. And now you go and nullify their votes even though most of the irregularities were in your strongholds. Words fail me.

Koranteng also points out:

Incidentally, we were on notice as to how ugly things might turn out. Recall if you will, the September story about that Ivorian man arrested in California attempting to buy arms to smuggle in contravention of the UN embargo. The salient quote:

“$1.9 million wired to the US as a 50 percent downpayment on the weapons… the shipment of 4,000 handguns, 200,000 rounds of ammunition and 50,000 tear gas grenades to Ivory Coast.”

… The fact also that millions of dollars were so readily transferred surely indicates the importance the old government placed on the military option and indeed the kind of planning that was involved …

That should have been a tipoff, as should this diplomatic assessment from July 2009 via Wikileaks: “The Reality: There will not be an election unless President Gbagbo is confident that he will win it — and he is not yet confident of the outcome.”

There are reports of mercenaries coming in from Liberia and Angola, although the facts are difficult to determine. Ouattara is talking up the tales of mercenaries. He wants military intervention to help him assume office. But that does not mean that some accounts are not true. And some of Charles Taylor’s former cohorts are looking for work, grabbing their wigs and heading to Ivory Coast in hope that either side might employ them.

In an interview on Democracy Now, Horace Campbell provides his analysis of the aftermath of the election, along with some history:

As Thousands Flee Ivory Coast, Former Clinton Adviser Lanny Davis is Paid Lobbyist for President Who Refuses to Cede Power:
Well, this is a test for the African Union. It’s a test for whether the concept of people’s rights and the idea of democracy will go beyond elections, because in the case of the Ivory Coast, that is called Côte d’Ivoire, we have a situation where the person who has lost the election, Laurent Gbagbo, is refusing to step down. And in the process of refusing to step down, he and those around him, they are invoking all forms of xenophobia and hostility to people from the north in order to divide the country. Thankfully, the days when Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea were places that could provide the mercenaries so that Gbagbo could develop war, thankfully, we are in the state of transition in Sierra Leone, in Liberia and Guinea so that the possibility for war will be dependent on the extent to which Gbagbo can get support from persons like Lanny Davis in the United States and the bankers and financial elements within the country that will finance his army.

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

Gbagbo is trying to exploit differences between the State Department and the White House. The President of the United States called Laurent Gbagbo to urge him to step down, and he was so arrogant that he refused to take the telephone call of President Barack Obama. And he is arrogant enough to believe that he can whip up the kind of xenophobia to divide the people of the Ivory Coast to say that Alassane Ouattara is not an Ivorian … the point is, the people voted for him, and the election’s results should be observed.

And the positive result out of all of this is the clarity of the African Union, the fact that the African Union is taking a very clear position that Ouattara won the election. The African Union is taking a very clear position that they will use force. And the fact that the meeting of ECOWAS that took place two days ago would send a very clear signal so that there could be no manipulation within West Africa itself, I think this is part of the maturity of the African Union process. And we’re going to need that process also in the Sudan in nine to 11 days’ time, when we face a similar crisis in the Sudan. So, what we in this side of the world have to do, we have to keep up our education to the citizens so that people like Lanny Davis and the State Department and the U.S. Africa Command cannot use incidents such as what is happening in the Ivory Coast to represent Africa as backward and divisive and barbarian.

In this interview Horace Campbell also provides some background to the current situation:

Ivory Coast was a jewel in the crown of French colonialism. The Ivory Coast, by its very name, was a place where colonial plunder took ivory and gold. And the Ivory Coast is located in West Africa, bordered by Liberia, bordered by Sierra Leone, and by Ghana. Now, the president of the Ivory Coast, when Ivory Coast became independent in 1960, the president of Ivory Coast was Houphouët-Boigny. Houphouët-Boigny used the Ivory Coast as a base for counterrevolution in Africa. All of the forces of French colonialism, all of the forces of French exploitation, all of the forces of French militarism converged on the Ivory Coast. And for 30 or more years, the Ivory Coast was the base for supporting apartheid in South Africa. It was a base for supporting Jonas Savimbi. Jonas Savimbi was very close to the leader, Houphouët-Boigny. And some of your listeners would know that they were also complicit in the plot to assassinate Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso.

Now, the fact is, because of the intensification of the investment in the Ivory Coast in that period, in the 50-year period, millions of Africans went to work on banana and cocoa plantations, so that there were a number of people, persons from Burkina Faso, persons from Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana, who worked in that country. So the country has 20 million persons. There are 10 or a million more persons from north of the country whose ancestors came as migrant workers. Now, in the spirit of pan-Africanism, one should recognize that the borders in the Ivory Coast were artificially created at the Conference of Berlin.

Well, in 1993, after Houphouët-Boigny passed away, Alassane Ouattara was the prime minister. They wrote a Supreme Court judgment to say that those who are from the north were not Ivorian citizens, and Alassane Ouattara, whose mother supposedly was born in the Burkina Faso, could not become a candidate for the presidency. Now, between 1999 and 2000, Gbagbo himself ran in an elections, and when he won the elections, the general who was the head of the army said that Gbagbo could not come to power. Gbagbo himself organized so that he could come to power, and there was a civil war in the country between 2000 and 2004, which, again, brought about the intervention of South Africa and the African Union. In that invention, the African Union worked to overturn that judgment of the Supreme Court that said that persons from the north could not be citizens.

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

Abayomi Azikiwe writes What’s Behind the Calls for Military Intervention in Ivory Coast, in which he provides more historical background on the situation in the Ivory Coast, including:

Guy De Lusignan in his book entitled “French-Speaking Africa Since Indpendence”, said … They staked their all on big business and foreign capital. The brilliant potentialities of the country are a challenge and their answer to that challenge is undoubtedly ‘neo-colonialist’ in spirit.

And Azikiwe writes about US and French policy in Ivory Coast. He does not support military intervention, at least not yet, because that intervention would inevitably be used as a tool of US imperialism, another exercise in proxy war. Azikiwe writes:

What is happening in Ivory Coast cannot be viewed in isolation from the overall U.S. and French policy of increasing military involvement in West Africa under the guise of the so-called “war on terrorism.”

During the period of French colonialism and the first three decades of independence (1960-1990),Ivory Coast was promoted to the public as a model for imperialist rule that worked.

What the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables revealed was that through successive U.S. administrations, including Barack Obama, the same imperialist aims and objectives determine the character of its foreign policy toward Africa.

U.S. imperialism is strictly designed to further penetrate the economic, political and military affairs of the continent. The threatened intervention by ECOWAS would inevitably translate into large-scale deployments of both Nigerian and Ghanaians troops into Ivory Coast.

Such an operation that would place thousands of ECOWAS troops in Ivory Coast would require the logistical support of the U.S. and France. This would place the imperialists in a position to monitor events in Nigeria, with its own political problems of regional and intra-religious conflict, as well as other states including Mali and Sudan.

Consequently, anti-war and peace movements inside the United States must oppose any effort by the U.S. to bolster its military presence in Africa by utilizing the Ivorian crisis as an excuse to indirectly invade the country through funding, coordinating and transporting ECOWAS troops in an invasion into the Ivory Coast. Such a course of action could spark even more bloodshed in the West Africa region.

The mediation efforts of former South African President Thabo Mbeki provides some hope of resurrecting a political solution to the crisis. Why should their be an ultimatum given to Gbagbo while the other states in the region have been able to work out internal problems through political intervention and negotiations?

The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) over the last year has conducted large-scale military maneuvers on the continent. In West Africa war games have been conducted under the guise of enhancing the security capacity of African states.

Although some fear the US State Department supports Gbagbo, citing particularly Lanny Davis and his close relationship with the Clintons, Ouattara appears to be the current darling of the US and France:

He is a former International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist. He was deputy managing director of the IMF from 1994 to 1999 and governor of the Bank of Central African States. He [Ouattara] was prime minister of Ivory Coast from 1990 to 1993 and is closely identified with the free market policies introduced under an IMF structural adjustment plan that removed price subsidies and deregulated the labour market. State-owned enterprises were privatized and tariff barriers removed.

The economic and social tensions that were ultimately to break out into civil war can be traced in part to the process of economic liberalisation that began in the 1990s. President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled Ivory Coast from its independence in 1960 until his death in 1993, was able to maintain a degree of stability by sharing patronage among rival sections of the country’s elite. Under his successors tensions became increasingly acute. Falling commodity prices hit Ivory Coast’s chief export of cocoa, and structural adjustment reduced the amount of patronage available.

Ivorian politicians whipped up communalist sentiments as they attempted to win a greater share of the country’s wealth for themselves and their supporters. This led to two years of civil war that was only brought to an end by a power-sharing agreement in 2004, which left the country divided.

France and the US are eager to see Ouattara in the presidential palace because they see him as the ideal candidate to push through economic measures that will make Ivory Coast the key to developing the entire region as a supplier of raw materials. Their outright backing for Ouattara represents a shift from their previous preference for a power-sharing agreement between the northern, mainly Muslim, and the southern, mainly Christian, Ivorian factions.

The New Forces are not thought to be a match for the Ivorian army and would need help from foreign troops if Ouattara were to attempt to oust Gbagbo by military means. ECOWAS seems to be readying itself to do that, in the form of the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG).

ECOMOG has previously intervened in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. The operation in Liberia was noted for the extent of the looting and corruption on the part of ECOMOG forces, which earned them the nickname “Every Car or Movable Object Gone”. ECOMOG would need logistical and other technical support from the great powers. Their intervention would in this sense be a cover for an extension of more direct colonial authority over Ivory Coast.

French defence minister Alain Juppé has said that his country’s troops stationed in Ivory Coast are ready to protect French citizens, but would only intervene directly with a UN mandate. But if Ouattara called on their help as president, they could intervene under a French-Ivorian defence treaty that dates back to 1961. The Financial Times has warned that French intervention would be counterproductive, but with French troops already on the ground this must be one of the most likely outcomes of the conflict over the presidency.

Ouattara’s call for a general strike has undoubtedly followed consultations with his French and US backers. It is uncannily similar to the mass action discussed between Zimbabwean opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and the US embassy in Harare which has been revealed in the exposed WikiLeaks cables. Tsvangirai agreed to plan strike action for the Christmas holidays when schools, public buildings and many businesses would be closed anyway.

The strike call in Ivory Coast is a cynical manoeuvre, intended to give Ouattara some semblance of popular legitimacy, while possibly providing the pretext for a foreign military intervention. If the strikers came under attack from the Ivorian military, which is still loyal to Gbagbo, then an invasion by West African troops with French and US backing could be presented as a humanitarian operation.

I think the White House is backing Ouattara. And I’m sure Gbagbo didn’t do himself any favors by refusing to talk to President Obama.

Daniel Drezner at Foreign Policy has fantasies of a surgical strike by US special forces citing this BBC report in which Mr. Ouattara is trying to encourage a strike against Gbagbo, saying he could be taken out without starting a civil war or killing Ivoirians.

“Legitimate force doesn’t mean a force against Ivorians,” Mr Ouattara told reporters on Thursday, AFP news agency reports.

“It’s a force to remove Laurent Gbagbo and that’s been done elsewhere, in Africa and in Latin America, there are non-violent special operations which allow simply to take the unwanted person and take him elsewhere.”

Unfortunately the unwanted person has sometimes been the winner of a democratic election, whose removal the US has engineered or facilitated, as with Aristide in Haiti or Zelaya in Honduras or the failed attempts to oust Chavez using proxies. And the US, in the person of Ambassador Ranneberger, backed Kibaki in his coup against what should have been a successful election in Kenya, plunging the country into violence, then forced a power sharing agreement on the country when the coup was so outrageously obvious and widely condemned that it could not stand.

One thing we do know about US policy in Africa, it has relentlessly repeated the same mistakes year after year decade after decade. This includes backing and arming both sides in some conflicts and sponsoring dictators and coup makers, training the militaries that terrorize their people. The present attempts to militarize the continent with the Africa Command, and its shores with seabasing, are just the most recent and vigorous example of this energetic and relentless rush in the wrong direction. It would be fabulous material for comedy if it weren’t so lethal.

Ouattara is a free market fundamentalist and practitioner of the zombie economics so favored by the corporate predator state, policies that helped damage the Ivoirian economy and many more developing economies, the policies that are currently bringing down the US economy. He is also the legitimate winner of the election, chosen by the voters in Ivory Coast and all parties should respect that.

Samuel Adjei Sarfo provides more detail on the election itself and events as they transpired. Follow this link for details of the electoral process and events: Ghana’s Policy On The Ivorian Crisis. Sarfo is an advocate for military intervention. He is justly afraid of a possible power sharing agreement, writing:

Of this kind of arrangement [power sharing], Kenya and Zimbabwe point the way to its insufficiency and danger. That kind of arrangement [power sharing] sets up a paradigm for the demise of democracy in Africa. Why must the winner of elections compensate himself by playing second fiddle to the loser of that election? In the Ivorian situation in particular, such an arrangement is superfluous because power-sharing already existed, and the election was conducted to give meaning to democratic rule through the direct franchise of the Ivorian people, and to end the civil war and the unpopular power-sharing arrangement.

Of course power sharing can be advantageous to outside predators. It keeps a government weak and divided, unable to properly protect itself, its people, and resources.

The situation in Ivory Coast may already be having an unfortunate effect on democracy in Africa, from the Financial Times January 4 Congo rulers use crisis to review poll laws:

Ivory Coast’s disputed election may have become Africa’s latest get-out-of-democracy-free card, after the Democratic Republic of Congo, the vast mineral-rich country to its south, announced it wants to revise its constitution to avert a similar fate.

The government of Congo, which suffers from a conflict in its east that has displaced more than 1.4m people in the past 18 months alone, said this week it would seek to do away with a second round in presidential elections due to be held this year, a move many regard as a pretext for an early victory for Joseph Kabila, the incumbent president.

I don’t know what will happen next. Gbagbo’s position is untenable. I don’t think military intervention is a good idea, see many of the arguments above. Although I do understand the arguments for an ECOWAS intervention. If military intervention occurs, there are certain to be ugly unintended consequences, ugly consequences that should be anticipated, and some ugly consequences that are intended. It should be possible to use pressure and diplomatic negotiation to resolve the situation. Keeping talking, and talking, and talking more is about the only way to resolve issues where the parties are determined not to compromise.

________
09ABIDJAN406, ELECTIONS IN COTE D’IVOIRE: THE MYTH AND THE REALITY
cable July 2009 via Wikileaks

http://213.251.145.96/cable/2009/07/09ABIDJAN406.html

________
See my later post:
Côte d’Ivoire – Military Intervention Vs Constitutional Legitimacyfor more information on exactly what happened and what it means going forward.

Police violence following Kenya election, inset Ambassador Ranneberger

Police violence following Kenya election, inset Ambassador Ranneberger

The energetic continuation of Bush administration policies in East Africa and the Horn of Africa are damaging the United States. Though far less well known, these policies are as mishandled and misbegotten as the Iraq war, the handling of the Katrina disaster, and the global financial meltdown.

US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger bears much responsibility for the disasterous handling and direction of these policies. He actively undermined democracy in the Kenya elections a year ago. As a result Kenya is less democratic, and less safe and secure. Extra judicial murders are on the rise.

The New York Times finally wrote some of this up in A Chaotic Kenya Vote and a Secret U.S. Exit Poll. Much of this was reported at the time in a variety of places, you can read an account with links in this article, including the comment thread: The Coup in Kenya.

What the NYT article makes clear is that Ranneberger had determined Kibaki should win the election before the election occurred.

Heading the institute’s Kenya operations in 2007 was Mr. Flottman, on leave from his job as a senior counsel for a major defense contractor. … Mr. Flottman said he was surprised when, before the election, Mr. Ranneberger made public comments praising Mr. Kibaki and minimizing Kenyan corruption.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Flottman recalled, the ambassador was even more direct. A few months before the election, Mr. Ranneberger proposed releasing a voter survey showing Mr. Kibaki ahead and trying to block a roughly simultaneous one favoring Mr. Odinga, according to Mr. Flottman, who said he witnessed the episode during a meeting at the ambassador’s office. The suggestion was dropped, he said, after the embassy learned that the pro-Odinga results were already out.

“It was clear, in my opinion, that the ambassador was trying to influence the perceptions of the Kenyan electorate, and thus the campaign,” Mr. Flottman said.

Many of us watched the polling in Kenya and felt the soaring optimism that democracy might really be working. It was quite clear to any observer that the trend was strongly in favor of Mr. Odinga, and the polling was reasonably orderly and peaceful. As the ballots were being counted, President Kibaki and his cronies made a coup, seized control, and declared Kibaki the winner. Ambassador Ranneberger was quick to congratulate Kibaki on his win, although in the face of international opinion he had to retract this later. Then the US through Ambassador Ranneberger and Jendayi Frazer did its best to prevent completion of the vote count, and prevent a recount. Terrible violence followed the elections, and it was clear the security forces were responsible for a majority of the killings. Since it was clear and could not be denied that Odinga had won a lot of votes, the US pressed for a coalition government. That is not what Kenyans voted for. And now Kenyans say government failing them 1 year later.

During the Kenya election the IRI, was conducting an exit poll, which Mr. Flottman was supervising. Since the votes were not counted, Kenyans really wanted to see the results of the exit poll. but the results were supressed. From the NYT:

Under its contract, the institute was expected to consult with the Agency for International Development and the embassy before releasing the exit poll results, taking into account the poll’s technical quality and “other key diplomatic interests.”

Quality was not expected to be a concern. …

When the voting ended and ballot-counting began, Mr. Gibson and others involved in the exit poll said they expected its results to be announced soon.

But senior institute officials decided to withhold it. Most opposed to releasing the numbers, Mr. Flottman said, was Constance Berry Newman, … Mr. Flottman said Ms. Newman opposed “any kind of release from the outset — essentially suggesting it would be inflammatory and irresponsible.”

Ms. Newman, who had worked with Mr. Ranneberger when she was the Bush administration’s assistant secretary of state for African affairs, declined to comment.

Mr. Gibson said he told the institute that its technical concerns were baseless, to no avail. His contract barred him from publicly disclosing the polling data for six months, and in March of last year the institute asked him to sign a new contract that would have restricted him from speaking publicly about the institute’s polling program without written permission.

I think they were trying to shut me up,” he said. “I refused to sign it.”

In July, after his contract expired, Mr. Gibson and one of his doctoral students presented their analysis of the data at a seminar in Washington. A month later — one day before Mr. Gibson was to testify before Kenyan investigators — the institute announced that, after the outside review, it “now had confidence” in the poll and released the results.

When Mr. Kibaki claimed victory on Dec. 30, 2007, the State Department quickly congratulated him and called on Kenyans to accept the outcome, even though international observers had reported instances of serious ballot-counting fraud. American officials backed away from their endorsement the next day and ultimately pushed the deal that made Mr. Odinga prime minister.

After insisting for months that the poll was flawed, the institute released it last August — long past the point of diplomatic impact — after outside experts whom it had hired determined that it was valid. It showed Mr. Kibaki losing by about six percentage points.

Michael Ranneberger led an active fight against democracy in Kenya. But it is not just in Kenya. As his State Department bio says:

Michael E. Ranneberger is currently serving as U.S. Ambassador to Kenya and is also responsible for U.S. relations with Somalia.

He has been ambassador to Kenya since mid 2006, when the Islamic Courts Union took control of Somalia. This brought the first functioning government Somalia had in 15 years. Under the ICU, piracy by Somalis stopped completely. Peace was restored, businesses sprang up, Somalis abroad returned home. But the US claimed that the Islamic government was allied with al Qaeda, even though many people knew, and a West Point study told them that:

“Al Qaeda found more adversity than success in Somalia,” states the report by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. “In order to project power, al Qaeda needed to be able to promote its ideology, gain an operational safe haven, manipulate underlying conditions to secure popular support and have adequate financing for continued operations. It achieved none of these objectives.”

At the end of 2006, the US supported an invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia, contrary to international law. The US helped install a (non) government by the hated Ethiopians allied with the hated Somali warlords, restoring civil war, exploitation, and insecurity to the Somali people. The US arranged with Kenya to rendition refugees of that disaster, who crossed the Kenya border, to be tortured in Ethiopia as “terrorists”. When asked about the US participation in the invasion, and killing Somalis, Ranneberger just ignores the truth and repeats lies:

Question [Dom]: Ever since the last attack by US to Somalia near Kenyan Border, which killed more than 20 innocent civilians. No word of apology has been spelled out yet. Was that not a mistake?

Answer [Ambassador Ranneberger]: I appreciate your question, because there has been a lot of rumors and misinformation, and I am happy to clarify what happened. No innocent civilians have been killed in U.S. attacks. U.S. efforts are solely directly against known terrorists.

This despite the fact that the US was:

running U.S. death squads in Somalia to “clean up” after covert operations. (The latter is no deep dark secret, by the way; officials openly boasted of it to Esquire Magazine.)

But Ambassador Ranneberger blithely continues to support the violent and corrupt TFG he helped install, and innacurately condemn the ICU government he helped overthrow:

Q [Abdalla]: … Somali people were able to say enough is enough and they established a government free from the warlords. The international community instead of forcing the warlords to accept the government it sided with the warlords and allowed the government to be dismantled and Ethiopia succeeded in establishing a client government led by warlords. Somali people again as usual and eager to have law and order they accepted the TFG with it is short comings and the past/present records of its members. The Warlords instead of working for their people they become dysfunctional and started harming the Somali people. Fortunately, in June 2006 the Somali people plus Islamic courts succeeded in getting rid the south-central part from the warlords. The only city they remained was in baidabo with the protection of their Ethiopian master. The international community blatantly ignored the presence of Ethiopian soldiers in a sovereign country. During the reign of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) the Somali people were able to forget the clan mentality and corrupt clan elders. For the first time the minority and un-armed Somali communities felt that they are part of the Somali society. They had a voice thanks to Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Sheikh Dahir aways who was able to control former militias.

Also, we Somalis in the Diaspora were able to invest in the country in my case I built a house for my mum and planned to visit her in January 2007. Unfortunately, the American justice is with us and our old enemy plus the warlord government is back to Mogadishu. America rewarded the warlords and punished the ICU who brought peace and tranquility to their people. …

All of these good things are destroyed now and we are back to 1991.

A [Ambassador Ranneberger]: I recognize that the Islamic Courts did manage to establish a degree of order in Mogadishu. However, the Islamic Courts never had broad support among the Somali people and, importantly, the Islamic Courts were moving in a very radical direction, which would not have been to the benefit of the Somali people. The Transitional Federal Institutions were developed, with the assistance of Kenya, as the legitimate representatives of the Somali people. With the ousting of the Courts, the TFG now has an opportunity to establish its credibility in order to become an effective, inclusive government. Our objective is to support this process.

I want to emphasize our commitment to an inclusive process that truly bring together all Somalis who reject violence and extremism. This is the only way forward for Somalis to achieve lasting stability and security. I believe that the Somali people are tired of the chaos and conflict that has plagued their country and want to participate in an inclusive political process. This will, in turn, lead to a smooth transition to an elected government in 2009.

You can not appeal to people who reject violence and extremism if you have just overthrown their government by violence and extremism. There is no path to “security and stability” that way. Overthrowing the Somili government with Ethiopian proxies meets no definition of the word inclusive. It works against any possibility for democracy.

Ranneberger is telling the Somalis that he knows better what is good for them than they do. Whatever else this is, it is NOT democracy. The TFG brought violence, exploitation, and insecurity. It has been beaten and discredited since then. The 2009 elections were held by a small group of Somalis in Djibouti, arranged by the US, and then called “representational”. They elected Sheikh Sharif, the handpicked choice of Ambassador Ranneberger. Sheikh Sharif has been “persuaded” by Ranneberger to become an ally of the United States. Sheikh Sharif is supposed to give a new face to the TFG, but so far, there is not much evidence he will be accepted, or that things will change for the better. Any solution to the governance or the piracy problems in Somalia must involve Somali communities. Ranneberger’s actions continue to actively harm any possibility for democratic processes or participation. Inviation only “elections” in Djibouti will not help Somalia.

As b real points out, Ranneberger:

… has had official capacity wrt sudan during the early part of this decade, possessing a cv that intertwines w/ a history of cia hotspots & covert arms transfers

  • country officer in angola (1981-84) while the u.s. was overtly supporting the “proto-terrorist” Unita
  • then constructively engaged as deputy chief of mission in mozambique from ’86-9 while the u.s. was covertly supporting the outright terrorist mvmt Renamo
  • then paraguay for the ’89 coup and on through 1992
  • then ’92-94 around el salvador & guatemala for who knows what
  • a brief stint as deputy chief of mission in mogadishu around ’94
  • then some work in haiti
  • then coordinator for cuban affairs (’95-99)
  • on to ambassador to mali from ’99-2002
  • in sudan from 2002-4 for a civil war while the u.s. supporting the south
  • then on to the african bureau
  • sudan again, as senior representative for sudan
  • and, since 2006, ambassador to kenya & responsibility for u.s. relations w/ somalia

One of the things that has distressed me for decades is how negative and counter productive US policy has been towards the developing world, particularly during the Cold War. This is not just in Africa, but in Asia and Latin America as well. Look at the ravages that military coups wrought on Latin America under the training and aegis of Southcom and US Cold War policy. Cheney, with Rumsfeld and Bush, has done his best to lock Cold War patterns and thinking into place, and to lock Bush’s successors into misguided and counter productive policies going forward, policies that ultimately hurt the United States. So far Obama has slipped right into that trap.

In an interview Mahmood Mamdani speaks about the:

way in which the Cold War almost seamlessly morphed into the war on terror.

We see that in action in the work of Ambassador Ranneberger. He opposed democracy when it was actually working. By doing so he hurt the United States by harming people in countries that would like to be our friends, by denying democracy, and by damaging trust, and the reputation and integrity of the United States.

mary-yates-africom
yates-ghana_us

Above: Yates address on drug trafficking, below: Yates meets President Mills at Osu Castle.

THE UNITED States Military Command for Africa (AFRICOM) has pledged to strengthen military ties with Ghana’s Military High Command and the Ghana Armed Forces towards enhancing Ghana’s democratic regime and good governance.

A delegation led by Mary Carlin Yates, Deputy Commander for Civil Activities of the US Military Africa Command, called on President John Mills at the Osu Castle yesterday [Wednesday March 4] and commended Ghana for the impressive elections held recently.

Yates and President Mills exchanged a number of compliments on democracy in each others countries. I do not think Yates was strictly honest in this, as I suspect the US wanted to interfere in the recent elections in Ghana, and may have made some attempt. Luckily, the interference was nothing to the scale of the interference with Kenya’s presidential election. Jendayi Frazer, U.S Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, was in Ghana just before the December 28 runoff: Frazer meets the press. At about the same time there was talk in the Ghanaian press about “power sharing”, and I suspect that was her work. It was unpopular, and inappropriate to the circumstances.

I think the previous US government and the AFRICOM establishment were far more comfortable working with the previous NPP government, not so much for ideological reasons, but because the NPP government was reliably corruptable. And I’m sure AFRICOM, which already has a robust presence, will try to expand in Ghana. The corruption quotient remains to be seen for the new government. I am a little bit optimistic, and very worried. I think the intentions of the present government are good for now, but the drug money and the coming oil money will be powerful forces encouraging corruption. And, with special thanks to the Kufuor government, corruption is seen by many in Ghana as the way government and business “works”. Not that there was no corruption before, but in the last eight years it was encouraged, and grew exponentially.

Drugs were one of the reasons Yates visited Ghana. As I have written before, drugs are the tool AFRICOM will use to infiltrate into Ghana. It is thanks to the counter effective US “War on Drugs” that the drug trade has moved to West Africa. The primary beneficiaries of the War on Drugs have been defense and security contractors, the same folks who are looking to AFRICOM for more contracts.

As I have written before:

The US War on Drugs has been a failure for at least half a century. It started long before Nixon, as the article indicates. You can read a history of it here: How America Lost the War on Drugs.

… the catastrophe along the [Mexican] border looks like a final reckoning for overseas interdiction. ” It’s like a balloon effect – we’ve never succeeded in cutting off the traffic, we’ve just pushed it around,”

But nobody is giving up the pretense that the effort is serious and worthwhile.

“It is absolutely shocking what has happened — the increase in drugs,” Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates says. …

… West Africa has seen a dramatic increase in narcotics trafficking, with an estimated $2 billion worth of cocaine crossing the mid-Atlantic from South and Central America. A majority of the drugs passing through West Africa are headed for Europe.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates at least 50 tons of cocaine transits through West Africa each year. Local communities are increasingly disrupted because drug traffickers pay their transport costs in cocaine instead of money, increasing the amount of narcotics available to populations.

In Ghana, as part of a larger US government program, US Africom is helping to fund drug screening equipment and upgrades at Ghana’s international airport to support Ghanaian counter-narcotics and customs programs.

Africom also is helping to fund a police evidence storage and training facility to provide more capacity in storing evidence in support of counter-drug operations. The goal is to assist in achieving a greater number of lawful convictions. The facility includes a training center and computer lab, with estimated completion this summer.

Before arriving in Ghana, Yates visited Cape Verde where she talked cooperation in counter-narcotics, illegal fishing, and illegal trafficking.

Yates is meeting with a range of officials to discuss how regional militaries can cooperate in partnership with police and other security organizations to address the growing trend of illegal narcotics, illegal fishing, and other criminal maritime activities.

Cocaine is a serious problem for Ghana. AFRICOM offers hype rather than help. Please keep in mind that the AFRICOM programs to counter drug trafficking, illegal fishing, and other police and security functions were not funded. Talk is cheap.

AFRICAN COASTAL AND BORDER SECURITY PROGRAM (ACBS) – 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 … No dedicated funding was requested for FY 2008 [or for 2007]
From: AFRICOM from Bush to Obama

So the militarization of political space continues. This comes at a particularly dangerous time for Ghana. The coming expected oil revenues will create dangerous expectations, temptations, and pressures. A military strengthened beyond the control of civil institutions is a grave danger for any country. The active interference of AFRICOM, spells grave danger. Using AFRICOM, the US is already engaged in supporting and choosing sides in internal politics in African countries, most visibly in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. So far the same people are running Africa policy for Obama that ran it for Bush. This is a time to be wary.

from the Daily Nation

At Moon of Alabama b real has Coup In Kenya: Part II – Exploring U.S. influence in the Kenyan Elections posted. I recommend you read it. It is not a pretty picture. I saw Fareed Zakaria on a Daily Show last week, and he saidwe (the US) like democracy in strategically irrelevant countries, anywhere important, we don’t like it.” US behavior in Kenya is a glowing example of this. Coup In Kenya: Part II went up today, and if it follows the pattern of Coup in Kenya – Part I, it will be worth checking back from time to time over the next week or so to read the comments.

You may also wish to read Countdown to Deception: 30 Hours That Destroyed Kenya by Kenyans for Peace and Justice, also available here. And you might want to read Anatomy of a Rigging by Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, KPTJ.
This last is an hour by hour account -

drawn from the statements of four of the five domestic election observers1 allowed into the verification process the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) . . .

The account illustrates the list of anomalies, malpractices and illegalities that lay behind those results, raising questions as to the ethics, non-partisanship and professionalism of the ECK Commissioners and staff as well as to the validity of the supposed results.

In The Great Divide, authors Holman and Mills write about the political process in contemporary African countries, and say:

the best role that external actors can assume is to be honest in their deliberations about and with these countries, and not attempt to pick and back winners.

from the Daily Nation

Over at Moon of Alabama b real has an excellent writeup of the post electoral Coup in Kenya – Part 1. I recommend you go and read it. In addition to the article, the comments have continued all week, and contain a lot of valuable information and observations, including some from David Barouski who has covered that part of the continent in depth, and for some time. Included is Kibaki’s visit to Uganda, and his use of Ugandan troops against Kenyan citizens to hold his coup in power.

You may also want to take a look at the remarks by Immanuel Wallerstein: “Kenya: Stable Democracy or Meltdown?”

Pambazuka News has several excellent articles on the aftermath of the recent election in Kenya. I’d like to quote three points that sum up a great deal about what has been happening. I have put these in bold. There are lessons here that need to be heeded in a lot of places, in Africa, and around the world, including in the US. From It is the Kenyan people who have lost the election by Firoze Manji:

That the elections results were rigged – of that there is little doubt. The hasty inauguration, the blanket banning on the broadcast media, the dispersal of security forces to deal with expected protests – all these have given the post election period the flavour of a coup d’etat. What was not expected was the speed with which the whole thing would unravel. The declaration of the members of the Electoral Commission that the results were indeed rigged only added to the growing realisation that a coup had indeed taken place.

People across the country took to the streets to protest and were met with disproportionate use of force by the police and GSU. Emotions ran high. And there is evidence that politicians from all sides used the occasion to instigate violent attacks against their opponents constituencies. . . . The western media has been quick to describe these as ‘ethnic clashes’ – but then they appear only to be able to see tribes whenever there are conflicts in Africa. What is ignored by them is that the security forces have been responsible for the majority of killings.

. . .

But the real tragedy of Kenya is that the political conflict is not about alternative political programmes that could address the long standing grievances of the majority over landlessness, low wages, unemployment, lack of shelter, inadequate incomes, homelessness, etc. It is not about such heady aspirations.

No, it boils down to a fight over who has access to the honey pot that is the state. For those in control of the state machinery are free to fill their pockets. So the battle lines are reduced to which group of people are going to be chosen to fill their pockets – and citizens are left to decide perhaps that a few crumbs might fall off the table in their direction.

And the electorate – the mass of citizens who have borne the brunt of the recent violence and decades of prolonged disenfranchisement from accessing the fruits of independence – are reduced to being just being fodder for the pigs fighting over the trough.

M. at the tHiNkErS ROoM writes: where two kiosks and adjacent homes owned by friends of mine were looted and burnt

M at Thinkers Room, and Ory Okolloh at Kenyan Pundit are both thoughtful observers writing from Kenya. They share their observations and some relevant links.

M provides a lot of information and description, about the lead up to the election, and about what happened after, he writes:

Much ado has ben made over the right to vote, and the empowerment of the voter. Kenyans were told that they had the power to shape their destiny and choose their leadership. And so they turned out in colossal numbers and they voted. They were told that they had a voice and that it would be listened to.

And when it came down to it their voice, the ballot was ignored. And so they had only one voice left — protest.
. . .
Supporting this travesty because it favours someone you like is a dangerous and foolish precedent.

What we have lost, my friends, is our voice. The power of the ballot. The right to determine our leadership and our destiny. The very thing our forefathers risked their lives fighting for.

So if you are celebrating because Kibaki ‘won’ or you are bitter becauase Raila ‘lost’ my friends you need to wake up and smell the coffee.

You need to be better because your voice has been stolen from you.

Ory Okolloh at Kenyan Pundit writes:

- Bankelele has a good post that highlights why the conflict is about more than just Kikuyu vs. Luo (can the international media please catch up).
. . .
- For those who are asking about other blogs that are covering the situation in Kenya. Hash has a comprehensive list.

. . .
We are all feeling so helpless and are reduced to platitudes like “let’s hope for the best” and all “we can do is pray” and “it will end soon” and “these guys need to do something” but all we are doing is masking our fear that we are on a precipice.

- Google Earth supposedly shows in great detail where the damage is being done on the ground. It occurs to me that it will be useful to keep a record of this, if one is thinking long-term. For the reconciliation process to occur at the local level the truth of what happened will first have to come out. Guys looking to do something – any techies out there willing to do a mashup of where the violence and destruction is occurring using Google Maps?

. . .

- ODM plans to hold another rally on Saturday. I fail to see the point of these rallies…they’d be better off trying to assist people who have been affected by the violence.
. . .
I’m really just stunned by the fact that the government is not even attempting to avert the humanitarian crisis – there’s no talk of shelters, no talk of relief supplies, zero . . . at minimum they have the resources to alleviate the suffering of those who have been displaced and they’ve done nothing.

African Loft also has some links and comments.

Woman harvesting mangos, taken from Farm Acquisition and Management Consultants in Ghana, a site that encourages Ghanaians abroad to invest in mango farming. I know nothing about the company, but I like the picture.

I am heartsick over what is happening in Kenya. The vast numbers of people queuing to vote was quite inspiring. There was obviously a huge desire for change, and a huge desire for participatory democracy. I had hoped the returns would be counted with some semblance of honesty.

Abba Mahmood wrote about Nigeria that Yar’Adua presidency is:

. . . signaling the retirement of a whole generation of the leadership . . . both civilian and military, who owe their starting point in the 1960s. They have been over-recycled. They are tired but they don’t want to retire. How they take their loss of influence will have profound effect on the nation’s polity.

Many other countries are facing similar leadership challenges, and inevitable change. The peaceful turnover of power is one of the most difficult things for any country to accomplish. It looks like President Kibaki has failed this critical test of his leadership, with devastating effect on the country.

In a odd piece of news the AP reports, reproduced at GhanaWeb, two US sailors from the USS Fort McHenry, also called the African Partnership Station, have been found dead in a hotel room in Tema. I find it impossible to guess what happened. There is crime in Ghana, but mostly it is a safe place to be. So what was going on?

Update Jan. 3: WASHINGTON (CNN)

Two U.S. sailors who were found dead in a Ghana hotel room may have died of alcohol poisoning, a Navy official told CNN on Wednesday.

There were no signs of foul play in the incident, said the Navy official, who asked not to be identified due to the ongoing investigation.

An unidentified naval official told The Associated Press that the two were among a trio of sailors who checked in at La Palm Beach Hotel in the capital of Accra on December 31 “and on the next day, the third sailor found the two dead in their rooms and duly reported this to the hotel authorities.”

The official told AP there was no evidence of a robbery or an attack on the sailors.
. . .
Although preliminary indications point to the possibility the sailors drank a lethal amount of alcohol, the official said the Navy is awaiting toxicology test results before determining cause of death.

And, because I would like to begin the year on a positive note, I included the handsome picture above of the woman harvesting mangos. An article at GhanaWeb titled Mango day celebrations encourages Ghanaians to create a mango holiday, and to grow and invest in mangos.

Kenya had record making heavy turnout for the elections today. People wanted, and took advantage of their chance to participate and vote. And from what I read so far, things went well. People had to wait in long lines, but it was generally peaceful, and people were able to cast their ballots. Heavy turnouts usually signal people want a change of government, but the results are not yet in. You can read more at AllAfrica.com, and the AllAfrica blogs on Kenya. If you click these last two links, by that time all the information may be updated, and we may know more about the results.

The polling was not without problem or incident. There were some serious problems with missing names from the voter rolls, including the candidate Raila Odinga’s name was missing,
from The Standard:

ODM presidential candidate Mr Raila Odinga finally voted on Thursday at 12.36pm.

Earlier in the morning, Raila and his wife, Ida, had failed to cast their votes because his name was allegedly missing from the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) LangÕata constituency voter register.

Moving over to South Africa, Dibussi Tande has collected selections and links to a number of South African blogs that discuss the recent party congress that elected Jacob Zuma to be President of the ANC, which means Zuma is likely to be the next President of South Africa.

Kenyan blogger Ken Opalo believes that Zuma’s election is a loss for Africa because he lacks Mbeki’s Pan-Africanist credentials
. . .
He has proven to be a populist and to the best of my knowledge has not shown much interest on the region as a whole. If he chooses to be a domestic leader, like he seems he will, his election will indeed end up being a loss to the African people who desperately need visionary continental leadership to correct the evils of poverty, disease, ignorance and bad leadership.

There are a number of other bloggers who express both optimism and doubt about Zuma’s potential as a leader, and his strengths and weaknesses. All have points of view worth considering.

And in Nigeria Yar’Adua has removed Malam Nuhu Ribadu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Ribadu has been ordered to attend a compulsory one year study at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), in Kuru near Jos.

Ribadu has gotten a lot of credit for cracking down on the 419 scammers. But it also looks like he may be a fixer for Obasanjo. On Dec. 22 I quoted from an article by Tony Eluemunor, who is Abuja chief for the Daily Independent.

Eluemunor writes:

Nigerians may not know it but the man Obasanjo used to ram in support for his failed third term bid and in getting the last April polls to go his way, Nuhu Ribadu, has become active again in advancing pro-Obasanjo plans. Ribadu is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman.

It is said that after meeting Obasanjo in early June, Ribadu began to arraign Yar’Adua’s former governor colleagues, distancing them from him, so that if the presidential poll was cancelled, Yar’Adua would have scant support among his former co-governors.

Yar’Adua’s ratings had remained high everywhere until Ribadu began to spread the message that the President was shielding his former co-governors from being prosecuted for corruption.
. . .

Ribadu’s used his anti-corruption agency to discredit Obasanjo’s political enemies ahead of the April 2007 elections but his sins are now forgotten. He had produced reports indicting dozens of politicians, who were opposed to Obasanjo’s Third Term bid, and which INEC acted upon to bar such persons from contesting the elections.

Courts have been reversing such decisions in ruling after ruling. To show that INEC was insincere, scarcely any of those so barred from the polls have been prosecuted six months after.

So it looks like Yar’Adua is consolidating his position. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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