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Gbagbo, Ivorian Scenario, UN Action & Timing 

By Bouddih Adams

"Peace everywhere is now something which matters to us all; our own human happiness and our economic and social progress are involved in it." ‘Man and Development’, Julius Nyerere, Oxford University Press – London, New York, 1974 (from ‘A speech to diplomats accredited to Tanzania, on January 1, 1968’, titled: "A Peaceful New Year."

The author, Philosopher and President of Tanzania, Julius K. Nyerere, then – forty-something years ago – observed: "Yet peace by itself is not enough for the human spirit if it means just the absence of violent conflict." Nyerere meant that there are other conflicts, social and economic and otherwise, which are equal threats to peace, as are violent or armed conflicts. The former, inevitably, engenders the latter. This means that if social and economic conflicts are averted; violent conflicts can be avoided.

He propounded that: "There may even be times when international action against humanity by one nation is called for – although all of us can see the dangers of this concept and the necessity for long and earnest consideration before we embark upon anything of that kind. Yet, would it not have been better for the world, if the League of Nations had been able to intervene in the mid-30s to destroy the Nazi racialism which finally led to six million Jews being murdered?

Was peace at that time the kind of peace which human beings should support?" quipped Nyerere (one of the rare ‘Philosopher Kings,’ according to New Society – London).
From the Ivorian experience, the UN should now realise that, after 66 years of existence, it should have adopted a preventive approach to issues, rather than curative. The Darfur debacle swallowed millions of souls before the world body got interested and a lasting solution is being sought.

Had the UN stepped in just when the Ivorian dispute began, the thousands of lives lost, would have been protected. Now, it has started in Burkina Faso. The mutiny is so serious that the house of the Army Chief of Staff, Dominique Diendieré, was roasted. Blaise Compoaré, Head of State for 24 years, had to flee the capital, Ouagadougou, for his native home in Ziniaré.
Compaoré, who has ruled Burkina Faso for two and half decades, after toppling his former co-coup plotter, Thomas Sankara, (both EMIAC-Cameroon trained), purportedly won Burkina presidential election a couple of years ago.

Sake of Peace

It is an arrogant affront for someone to rule for one, two decades and more, but wants to rule again and still lays claim to democracy. This is like wanting day and night at the same time. One cannot be a dictator and a democrat at the same time. After 27 years in prison, Mandela became President and ruled for five years only and adamantly refused to take another mandate, even when South Africans wanted him to.

For the sake of peace, upon assuming the mantle of power, he advocated forgiveness and buried vengeance through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission – for the sake of peace. Tejan Kabba of Sierra Leone let go the presidency after a seriously flawed presidential poll, after a long civil war – for the sake of peace. In Cameroon, Fru Ndi is generally known to have won the 1992 presidential election, but when Biya confiscated his victory, he allowed it for – the sake of peace.

After the Presidential Election of 2000, whose results were contested, Gbagbo was allowed to mount the throne in Ivory Coast. Peace was, evidently, sacrificed to a civil war. After his mandate ended, Gbagbo picked the title of Maradona of politics, from Nigeria’s Babangida by employing gimmicks, while banking on the civil war, not to organise elections. This earned Gbagbo a ten-year reign – the mandate the Ivorian people gave him plus a five-year bonus.

After ruling for 10 years, Gbagbo could have let go – for the sake of peace – if he truly loved the Ivorian people. By sticking to his guns, until he was humiliated, Gbagbo, a professor of History, apparently went through History without History going through him. When Hitler demonstrated that he would fight to his last drop of blood, he did. It is generally believed that he took away his life before the allied forces caught him.

Saddam, who was smoked out of a hole like Gbagbo, was stubbornly and steadfastly steel-hearted to the last breadth as he was being hanged. But, did you see Gbagbo – a whole Head of State, Supreme Magistrate and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, accepting to wear just any shirt that was offered him. He should have continued his standoffish stance, by bowling at his molesters: "Stop it! Don’t give me that crap." But, there was President Gbagbo, adopting a humble supplication to fellows he had hitherto: "Don’t kill me!"

UN Homogenous Action

Lest the UN be accused of double-speak and vested interest of super powers: the UN has set the pace in Ivory Coast, albeit belatedly, which, it must continue. There are many countries trending towards situations akin to Sudan and Ivory Coast, where early intervention would have saved people and property. Prevention is better and cheaper than reconstruction.  

After Ivory Coast, we hope the UN will do the rounds of all countries, where other election riggers or people who lose elections but steal the victory through their Supreme Court appointed judges, to cling to power. Gbagbo, however, ruled for one decade only. Other countries are talking about two and more decades.

It is hot in Burkina Faso where the dictator has ruled for two and half decades. Just like it is hot in Libya. The UN should step in, in each case, supervise elections and let the winner become President. Meantime, there are other countries with longer-reigning dictators. The UN has a long haul and can neither end in Ivory Coast, nor in Burkina Faso nor in Libya.
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