Top 40 Winner Human Rights Blog

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An Ivorian Solution to an Ivorian Problem

Laurent Gbagbo is another African in the dock at the International Criminal Court. The former President faces four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, in relation to the post election violence of 2010. Although, the International Court focused its investigations on the crimes ensuing from the post election violence, the Court recently extended its mandate to include crimes from as far back as 2002, which had originally spilt the country into two separate governments. A brief history on the conflict leading up to the Gbagbo’s trial at the International Criminal Court is as follows. Since 2002 the Northern part of the country has since been led by Allassane Quattara and the Southern part by Laurent Gbagbo. Elections eventually held in 2010 made the political climate in Cote‘d Ivoire even more volatile given the deep rifts already prevalent between the North and the South. So, it came as no surprise that the call for elections by the international community merely acted as a catalyst for the violence which ensued with Gbagbo refusing to step down from his presidential post.

The situation was even further complicated by the fact that the country’s electoral commission  declared Quattara as the rightful winner, while the body actually responsible for announcing the winner, the constitutional council held that Gbagbo had won the election. I would have expected at this stage that both parties be brought before the ICC, since supporters from both camps were involved in the violence which ensued? Gbagbo refusing to step down was then supposedly captured by French forces after a military assault on his residence. That version of capture was quickly changed to the version that Northern rebel forces had effected capture of the ex-President after which time he was transferred to the ICC.

How do French interests play a role in all of this? Well, Quattara for one has been projected as having the backing of most Western countries, with mainly France and the US backing his presidency. This has led many commentators to conclude that Quattara has been more affable to Western influence.  Quattara is also former deputy managing director of the U.S dominated international monetary fund and criticism has come to bear against him for being a puppet of the West and compromising Ivorian economic interests. Gbagbo on the other hand was known as being more interested in establishing ties beyond the West, mainly with Russia. What does Cote‘d Ivoire has to offer to these countries you might say? Well for one they are a leading exporter of cocoa, coffee and vast array of minerals. Furthermore, offshore oil deposits have been recently discovered making trade with the country even more desirable. Infact, Ivory Coast boasts an oil production of currently 60000 barrels a day and it estimated to reach 200000 barrels a day by 2020. So economically countries that share good trade relations with Ivory Coast and its President will certainly benefit. France, being the frontrunner.