WHO IS ONSIDE ON IVORY COAST DEADLOCK?

“…ignores basic facts on the situation in Cote d’Ivoire just so they can build a case against Laurent Gbagbo to settle a neocolonial vendetta.”

The editorial piece which appeared on Sunday Independent’s edition of the 09th January 2011 under the title “Mbeki offside over Ivory Coast deadlock” refers. The views stated in the said editorial are widely held in white and foreign privately owned media groups that controls majority of print media in this country. These views have been very economic with the truth such that their conduct simply borders on duplicity and dangerous mischief.

The use of force promoted by the Sunday Independent will only hurt poor African masses in that part of the world and in the neighboring African states which shares the borders with Cote d’Ivoire. This new found bloodthirstiness of the Sunday Independent is course for concern not only because it propagates genocide but because it ignores basic facts on the situation in Cote d’Ivoire just so they can build a case against Laurent Gbagbo to settle a neocolonial vendetta.

I say new found bloodthirstiness because, to my recollection, the Sunday Independent has never called for military force to be used against Israel over the genocide going on for decades in Occupied Palestine or the US over their continued illegal occupation and murderous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or King Mswati of Swaziland’s repressive absolute Monarch, to say the least. Does democracy not matter to citizens of these countries?

The Constitution of Cote d’Ivoire, from which all democratic institutions and processes in that country flows from, was voted and adopted in a popular referendum by the people of Cote d’Ivoire themselves and is therefore a product of a direct democratic vote. The elections were possible thanks to this constitution. The legislative framework for the elections is also premised on this popular constitution.

The constitutional and legal framework in that country should be embraced as a whole and not half-heartedly, for if we are to analyze the elections stand off objectively…with integrity, and provide a workable and legitimate solution to the impasse, we must have regard to the existing overall constitutional and legal framework. Elections were held in that country because it is a democratic state otherwise there would not have been elections there or at least some popular candidates would have been frustrated to give advantage to the incumbent president.

Participation in the elections also meant that all parties committed themselves to oblige by all laws governing elections in the country through to the end. These laws include an elections appeal process where a candidate can file a dispute over election results with the Constitutional Council which makes a final decision on the dispute and declares the final results. This is exactly what happened and this mechanism is in no way less democratic and legitimate than the primary election machinery which produced the initial election results which are susceptible to appeal.

The decision of the Electoral Commission was legitimate but now has been reviewed, set aside and replaced by another legitimate and superior decision of the Constitutional Council within the ambit of the law. That is the whole point of the rule of law, isn’t? So in the circumstances do we stand for constitutional democracy or anarchy? Where is honour and integrity or does this matter in Sunday Independent’s world?

The Constitutional Council is allegedly made up of Gbagbo’s appointees, we are told. Is it about personalities or the institution? Should we ask who appointed the electoral commission in Cote d’Ivoire before we take a stand on its pronouncements? I suppose the Electoral Commission would also have been branded evil had it pronounced differently. So what do you stand for Sunday Independent?

There is value in separating principles from personalities. Principles are constant while personalities are a different cattle of fish so to speak. The Constitutional Council may make your day one day, fair and square regardless of who sits there, just like the Electoral commission did. Should we ask who pays the salary of the Sunday Independent Editor every month before we read its editorial and should we automatically conclude that the Editor always pander to the whims of the paymaster?

We are also told that about 200 people have died so far. But the question is: Who killed who? Under what circumstances? Who are these deceased persons? Are they soldiers or civilians? Where in the standoff do they belong? It makes a big difference to clarify these questions otherwise the misleading impression is deliberately created that every single person who dies is a victim of Cote d’Ivoire’s army on rampage, at the behest of Laurent Gbagbo. It is utter nonsense to suggest that in a warlike situation, casualties only befall one side of the warring parties. There is also no mystery in soldiers dying in a combat situation. It is inherent in the nature of their work.

The alleged 200 deaths will be a drop in the ocean if Sunday Independent’s wish of force against Gbagbo were to find its way. This is Mbeki’s point which Sunday Independent is opposed to but controversially supporting a full scale war in the region which will potentially displace and kill several thousands of people. Intellectual promiscuity of this kind really lowers the revered standards of journalism. The simple question is does Sunday Independent stand for saving lives or destroying lives?

May I also say that the UN with its exclusive and minority veto rights is not the bearer of righteousness, justice, fairness and equality? The AU is out of order for turning a blind eye to the constitutional and legal dispensation in Cote d’Ivoire. We cannot follow our gut feel or improvise a solution were the law is explicit, clear and precise on what should happen under a given situation. The UN, EU and the AU have no business pronouncing themselves in contempt of the legal prescripts of Cote d’Ivoire and so is the Sunday Independent.

However because the UN has engineered and fuelled a dangerous standoff and escalated tensions in Cote d’Ivoire, it is unrealistic to simply insist on upholding the rule of law. Let’s therefore support political efforts to resolve the impasse peacefully without any further drop of the African blood. Enough is enough. Our country will be better off without people who wish to see more African blood spilled to further imperialist interests. The people of Cote d’Ivoire are our own flesh and blood.

By Hulisani Mmbara

(The article first appeared on Facebook group “Friends of Cote d’Ivoire”)

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