A Travesty of Justice Delivered By France And Her African Puppets

On Tuesday, January 6, 2015 the current Ivory Coast Government of Alassane Ouattara and his French master, Helene le Gal, will put on trial Simone Gbagbo and eighty-two other co-accused from the Gbagbo government who refused to step down in favour of Ouattara in 2010 who claimed a victory in a rigged and illegal election.

Gbagbo, with the support of the Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court, proclaimed his victory in the election over the rag bag of Ivoirian rebels and warlords who supported Ouattara and refused to leave his elected post. The French troops, assisted by a strange band of UN peacekeepers, attacked the legitimate government of the Ivory Coast and used planes, helicopters and artillery to kill large numbers of the people in Abidjan and thousands more across the interior of the country; finally attacking the Presidential palace and turning the President and his wife over to the armed militia of rebel Ivoirians which the French had mobilised and armed.

Former President of the Ivory Coast, President, Laurent Gbagbo Source: AFP  Via: Panafricanvisions.com

Former President of the Ivory Coast, President, Laurent Gbagbo
Source: AFP Via: Panafricanvisions.com

The President, Laurent Gbagbo was taken to The Hague and held for three years facing charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC). However the Ivory Coast has repeatedly refused to hand his wife over to the ICC on the same charge for trial at the ICC. With him is Charles Ble Goude who led the student movement in support of Gbagbo and the elected government. The presidential couple were arrested April 11, 2011 after five months of fierce fighting following a final push by French forces against their residence. Simone Gbagbo has been held under house arrest in Odienne in the northwest of the country since April 2011 and only recently transferred to Abidjan for her trial. The sudden rush to have the trial of Mrs. Gbagbo and the others results from the deadline imposed by the European Union which had pledged five million euros as part of a programme to ‘rehabilitate the Ivorian justice system’.

 

The French troops, assisted by a strange band of UN peacekeepers, attacked the legitimate government of the Ivory Coast and used planes, helicopters and artillery to kill large numbers of the people in Abidjan and thousands more

 

This trial of President Gbagbo in The Hague and the upcoming trial of Simone Gbagbo on Tuesday is a result of the blatant interference by France (under Chirac, Sarkozy and Hollande) in the internal affairs of their former colony and their promotion of a rebellion dating from 2002. It is difficult to understand the charges against the Gbagbos without reference to the history of the French war against the Ivory Coast which only ended when their troops attacked the Presidential Palace in 2010 and the capture of the Gbagbos.

The Legacy of Francafrique and the Pacte Coloniale

There is no way of understanding what has happened to the Ivory Coast without understanding the key role of the French in dividing the country and supporting the rebellion for over twelve years. The French defended their extensive economic interests in the country and were happy to murder and pillage the Ivory Coast citizens; to assist in stealing their lands; take back monopoly control of its industries and financial centres for French business; destroy its Air Force; plot coups and assaults against the Gbagbo government; force Gbagbo to accept the illiterate and incompetent rebels as Cabinet members; rig the elections and jail thousands of patriots, including the President, who is currently at the Hague defending himself against claims of a crime against humanity. Other than eating African babies it is hard to imagine anything else the French could have done to the country.

The French never actually gave up owning and controlling the Ivory Coast even after it had achieved “flag independence”; having a flag, a national anthem, a seat in the UN and a football team.

The reasons for the continuance of French dominance of the Ivory Coast are easy to see. The root cause of this situation is the French Françafrique policy towards Africa; its neo-colonial activities which have blighted Ivory Coast democracy for decades. The French never actually gave up owning and controlling the Ivory Coast even after it had achieved “flag independence”; having a flag, a national anthem, a seat in the UN and a football team. The Pacte Coloniale, which had tethered the economy, trade, finance and military structures to France was carried out in every Ivoirian ministry, bank and institution by the hundreds of French nationals sent to the Ivory Coast as ‘advisors’ under the French Ministry of Co-operation. In some Ministries there was one Frenchman for every Ivoirian. Ivoirian sovereignty was demeaned by the presence of the French ‘co-operants’ who made many of the actual decisions in running the country. French soldiers and police were based in the Ivory Coast and were responsible for the training, equipping and deployment of the Ivory Coast forces; indeed they were also responsible for the promotions given to Ivoirian officers. To this day the French Treasury continues to control the Ivory Coast currency, it capital reserves and its trade and investment policies. The French Army continues to control the rebel mob of half-trained soldiers and “Dozos” which make up the Ouattara Army, its equipment, its training and its deployment. The French business community dominates almost every aspect of the national economy, even the oil industry and the cocoa industry where it shares its presence with a limited number of overseas companies. Other than those they maintain a monopoly in transport, water, electricity and ports and control most of the international commerce in Ivory Coast products and imports. There are hundreds of French administrators standing alongside Ivorian civil servants, ‘guiding’ their decisions.

It was only the government of the FPI, led by President Gbagbo, who tried to loosen the French reins on the country.

It was only the government of the FPI, led by President Gbagbo, who tried to loosen the French reins on the country. When the FPI government of Gbagbo, the democratically elected president,  took office after the period of military rule by Guei, there was a hope among the people of the country that the economy would improve; that medical and social programs would be reinstated; that the budget would be diverted back from military expenditures to civilian programs; that the needed reinstatement of the infrastructure would be undertaken; that a fair system of electoral reform and citizenship would be undertaken to correct the xenophobia of Bedie’s and Guei’s periods in power.

They continued to suffer under the burden of the Pacte Coloniale. Not really having planned for it, in 1960 de Gaulle had to improvise structures for a collection of small newly independent states, each with a flag, an anthem, and a seat at the UN, but often with precious little else except a football team. It was here that Jacque Foccart (De Gaulle’s eminence grise) came to play an essential role, that of architect of the series of Cooperation accords with each new state in the sectors of finance and economy, culture, education, and the military.

There were initially eleven countries involved: Mauritania, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Dahomey (now Benin), Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Niger, Chad, Gabon, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, and Madagascar. Togo and Cameroon, former UN Trust Territories, were also co-opted into the club. So, too, later on, were Mall and the former Belgian territories (Ruanda-Urundi, now Rwanda and Burundi, and Congo-Kinshasa), some of the ex-Portuguese territories, and Comoros and Djibouti, which had also been under French rule for many years but became independent in the 1970s. The whole ensemble was put under a new Ministry of Cooperation, created in 1961, separate from the Ministry of Overseas Departments and Territories (known as the DOM-TOM) that had previously run them all.

The key to all this was the agreement signed between France and its newly-liberated African colonies which locked these colonies into the economic and military embrace of France. This Colonial Pact not only created the institution of the CFA franc, it created a legal mechanism under which France obtained a special place in the political and economic life of its colonies.

The Pacte Coloniale Agreement enshrined a special preference for France in the political, commercial and defence processes in the African countries. On defence it agreed two types of continuing contact. The first was the open agreement on military co-operation or Technical Military Aid (AMT) agreements, which weren’t legally binding, and could be suspended according to the circumstances. They covered education, training of servicemen and African security forces. The second type, secret and binding, were defence agreements supervised and implemented by the French Ministry of Defence, which served as a legal basis for French interventions. These agreements allowed France to have pre-deployed troops in Africa; in other words, French army units present permanently and by rotation in bases and military facilities in Africa; run entirely by the French (and, incidentally, paid for by the Africans).

In summary, the colonial pact maintained the French control over the economies of the African states; it took possession of their foreign currency reserves; it controlled the strategic raw materials of the country; it stationed troops in the country with the right of free passage; it demanded that all military equipment be acquired from France; it took over the training of the police and army; it required that French businesses be allowed to maintain monopoly enterprises in key areas (water, electricity, ports, transport, energy, etc.).  France not only set limits on the imports of a range of items from outside the franc zone but also set minimum quantities of imports from France. These treaties are still in force and operational.

One of the most important influences in the economic and political life of African states which were formerly French colonies has been the impact of a common currency; the Communuate Financiere de l’Afrique (“CFA’) franc. There are actually two separate CFA francs in circulation. The first is that of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) which comprises eight West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo. The second is that of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) which comprises six Central African countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon), This division corresponds to the pre-colonial AOF (Afrique Occidentale Francaise) and the AEF (Afrique Equatoriale Francaise), with the exception that Guinea-Bissau was formerly Portuguese and Equatorial Guinea Spanish).

Each of these two groups issues its own CFA franc. The WAEMU CFA franc is issued by the BCEAO (Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) and the CEMAC CFA franc is issued by the BEAC (Banque des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale). These currencies were originally both pegged at 100 CFA for each French franc but, after France joined the European Community’s Euro zone at a fixed rate of 6.65957 French francs to one Euro, the CFA rate to the Euro was fixed at CFA 665,957 to each Euro, maintaining the 100 to 1 ratio. It is important to note that it is the responsibility of the French Treasury to guarantee the convertibility of the CFA to the Euro.

The monetary policy governing such a diverse aggregation of countries is uncomplicated for African Central Banks because it is, in fact, operated by the French Treasury, without reference to the central fiscal authorities of any of the WAEMU or the CEMAC. Under the terms of the agreement which set up these banks and the CFA the Central Bank of each African country is obliged to keep at least 65% of its foreign exchange reserves in an “operations account” held at the French Treasury, as well as another 20% to cover financial liabilities.

The CFA central banks also impose a cap on credit extended to each member country equivalent to 20% of that country’s public revenue in the preceding year. Even though the BEAC and the BCEAO have an overdraft facility with the French Treasury, the drawdowns on those overdraft facilities are subject to the consent of the French Treasury. The final say is that of the French Treasury which has invested the foreign reserves of the African countries in its own name on the Paris Bourse.

In short, more than 80% of the foreign reserves of these African countries are deposited in the “operations accounts” controlled by the French Treasury.

In short, more than 80% of the foreign reserves of these African countries are deposited in the “operations accounts” controlled by the French Treasury. The two CFA banks are African in name, but have no monetary policies of their own. The countries themselves do not know, nor are they told, how much of the pool of foreign reserves held by the French Treasury belongs to them as a group or individually. The earnings of the investment of these funds in the French Treasury pool are supposed to be added to the pool but no accounting has ever been given to either the banks or the countries of the details of any such changes. The limited group of high officials in  the French Treasury who have knowledge of the amounts in the “operations accounts”, where these funds are invested; whether there is a profit on these investments; are prohibited from disclosing any of this information to the CFA banks or the central banks of the African states.

This makes it impossible for African members to regulate their own monetary policies. The most inefficient and wasteful countries are able to use the foreign reserves of the more prudent countries without any meaningful intervention by the wealthier and more successful countries.  Most importantly, the French Government uses these funds on deposit in France as assets of France. The CFA franc devaluation of 50 per cent against the French franc in January 1994 was a great surprise to several of the African states and caused major problems for them.

In summary, the colonial pact maintained the French control over the economies of the African states; it took possession of their foreign currency reserves; it controlled the strategic raw materials of the country; it stationed troops in the country with the right of free passage; it demanded that all military equipment be acquired from France; it took over the training of the police and army; it required that French businesses be allowed to maintain monopoly enterprises in key areas (water, electricity, ports, transport, energy, etc.).  France not only set limits on the imports of a range of items from outside the franc zone but also set minimum quantities of imports from France. These treaties are still in force and operational.

Under the Presidency of Felix Houphuet-Boigny this allowed the Ivory Coast to prosper and the French companies, banks, insurance firms, shipping and air companies and exporters of Ivoirian raw materials to prosper even more. This continued with the Presidency of Konan Bedie who succeeded him and the coup maker, Guei who ousted Bedie. It was a shock to the French when Laurent Gbagbo and his FPI Party won the election in 2000.

The Roots of The Rebellion

The root of Ivory Coasts’ problems can be seen in the post-election period in September 2002, when Gbagbo was on a state visit to Rome. The military dictator Guei had recently been defeated at the ballot box and the new Ivorian government was busy untying the stranglehold of French corporations over the nation’s economy. The team of the President and his two key Ministers represented a powerful force for change in the Ivory Coast and had substantial support from the Ivory Coast population. Change and reform in the Ivory Coast meant a struggle to relax the control by the French over banking, insurance, transport, cocoa trading and energy policies. The Gbagbo government had demonstrated, during its short term in power, a spirit of nationalism, which had mobilised the population. It was also threatening the French hold over the Ivory Coast economy by inviting in companies from other countries to tender for Government projects.

The French met in Ouagadougou with Blaise Campaore and Ouattara who had fled to sanctuary in the French Embassy when the rebellion started. They decided that they would take advantage of a visit of Gbagbo to Rome and prepared for a coup – the first of many. When Gbagbo travelled overseas, the French plotters saw their opportunity. On the Wednesday, in September 2002, when the rebellion began, there were about 650 rebels holed up in Bouake. These were Guei appointees who had been purged from the Army. They had little equipment and ammunition, as they had expected a conflict of no more than five days. President Gbagbo was in Rome, meeting the Pope and the rebels felt sure that the coup could take place quickly with the President out of the country.

Fortunately for Gbagbo, his loyalist Army was led by his Minister of Defence, Moise Lida Kouassi; a former cellmate of Gbagbo’s when they had been jailed earlier, under Houphouet-Boigny, by his Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. The internal security was in the hands of another cellmate, the Minister of the Interior, Emile Boga Doudou. As the coup began in the second largest town, Bouake, the loyalist troops under Lida Kouassi responded. They were able to surround the rebels, trapping them in the city, and killing about 320 of them. They were positioned for a final onslaught on the remaining 330 rebels but were suddenly stopped by the French commander of the body of French troops stationed in the Ivory Coast. He demanded a delay of 48 hours to evacuate the French nationals and some US personnel in the town. Gbagbo’s army demanded to be allowed to attack Bouake to put down the rebels but the French insisted on the delay. As soon as there was a delay, the French dropped French parachutists into Bouake who took up positions alongside the rebels. This made it impossible for the loyalist troops to attack without killing a lot of Frenchmen at the same time.

During those 48 hours the French military command chartered three Antonov-12 aircraft, one of which picked up a load of weapons in Franceville in Gabon; military supplies stocked by the French in Central Africa. Two of the other planes had started their journey in Durban where Ukrainian equipment and military personnel were loaded on board. The chartered planes flew to Nimba County, Liberia (on the Ivory Coast border) and then on to the rebel areas in Ivory Coast (Bouake and Korhogo) where they were handed to the rebels. Busloads of Burkinabe troops (supplied at a price by Blaise Campaore) were transported from Burkina Faso to Korhogo dressed in civilian clothes where they were equipped with the military supplies brought in by the French from Central Africa and the Ukraine.

All of a sudden there were 2,500 fully armed soldiers on the rebel side as mercenaries from Liberia and Sierra Leone were also brought in by the same planes as well. They were equipped with Kalashnikovs and other bloc equipment which was never part of the Ivory Coast arsenal. France supplied sophisticated communications equipment as well. Once the rebels were rearmed and equipped, the French gradually withdrew, leaving operational control to the Eastern European mercenaries who directed the rebels in co-ordination with the French headquarters at Yamoussoukro.

France has had a long track record of supporting similar violent rebellions in Africa.

The fact that the French had intervened to bring about the success of creating a rebel force was not really news for Africa. France has had a long track record of supporting similar violent rebellions in Africa. During and after the genocide unleashed in Rwanda during April 1994, France was shown to have played a similar role in this horrendous crime, which caused the deaths of at least 800,000 people. Belgium, France and the United Nations knew in advance that preparations were being made to exterminate the Tutsi minority in Rwanda, and did nothing to prevent it. The French government, which kept the Hutu-led government in power, protected the killers and supplied them with weapons while the massacres were in progress. “Operation Amaryllis,” the French code name for the evacuation of European civilians in Rwanda in 1994, also organized the removal to France of Hutu “extremists” centrally involved in the genocide. At the same time the French military refused to evacuate Tutsi employees of the French embassy in Kigali, who faced extermination. A second evacuation, “Operation Turquoise,” was mounted later, as the RPF (Tutsi) offensive was on the brink of taking power, to bring the Hutu Rwandan government and military leaders to safety in France while French officers managed the “transition” to RPF rule. The French armed the Hutu militias for a period of ten days after the genocide began and intervened to protect the Hutu military when it was endangered. It supervised the removal of the Interahamwe to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where they continued their depredations. Thousands more Africans were murdered earlier in the suppression of the English-speaking population of the South Cameroons; including the poisoning of the Cameroonian President Félix-Roland Moumié in 1960 by the French government-sponsored terrorist group ‘Red Hand’  whose agent slipped thorium into the president’s cocktail in Geneva.

The French demanded that the United Nations peacekeeping forces be activated to maintain the safety of the rebels in their Northern section of the country and to relieve the French of some of its financial burdens of empire.

The French demanded that the United Nations peacekeeping forces be activated to maintain the safety of the rebels in their Northern section of the country and to relieve the French of some of its financial burdens of empire. They asked for the provision of West African ECOMOG forces to come to the Ivory Coast to serve as peacekeepers. However, this African ‘peacekeeping’ was designed to be the preserve of francophone countries, primarily Senegal. These francophone countries are under the direct or indirect control of the French army. Their officers are trained in France or by French soldiers in country. Their armament and supplies come from France and are supplied on credits from the French Treasury. Their foreign intelligence and military communications systems, and quite often their transport systems, are run by French officers. They are, to all extents, black French surrogate military forces. They offered little succour to the Ivory Coast patriots but spread the costs of their occupation to the UN. Despite having lost the rebellion, the French created a northern rebel state whose borders were patrolled by French and françafrique soldiers who were financed by the ‘international community’.

On 29 February 2004 the UN Security Council agreed to send a peacekeeping force of more than 6,000 troops to Cote d’Ivoire to supervise the disarmament of rebel forces and to prepare for the presidential elections due in October 2005. After a long period of delay, the ministers from the New Forces took their place in the Cabinet. The violence continued. The post-war violence was not much different than the violence perpetrated during the conflict, except that the French and UN helicopter gunships and tanks were not then being used. According to Guillaume Ngefa, the acting human rights chief in the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) “Violations committed include proven cases of summary, extrajudicial executions, illegal arrests and detention, the freeing of people in return for cash, extortion, and criminal rackets against numerous drivers” There were twenty-six extrajudicial executions documented by the UN in Côte d’Ivoire in just one week, including that of a 17-month-old baby; over a hundred other human rights abuses were perpetrated in a single month by the FRCI. This is not only in the military fiefdoms operated by these tin pot warlords in the North since their rebellion in 2002, but in the heart of Abidjan itself.

One of the reasons for the French unhappiness with Gbagbo was that he refused to carry on with the traditional French corruption of the Ivory Coast. At the time of the coup, the country was virtually out of fuel. The director of the S.I.R (Société Ivoirienne de Raffinage) had emptied the reserves of the country’s energy coffers at the time of Gbagbo’s election. He fled to France with the money where he was offered sanctuary and immunity for his theft from the French. There was no fuel and no money to buy fuel. The representative of Total-Elf visited Gbagbo’s office with the French ambassador and said that they had two ships standing by off the Ivory Coast ports, which they could offer to Gbagbo. All they wanted in return was the country’s only oil refinery, which they would purchase for one symbolic franc. The French would operate the refinery as it wished, using the high-priced oil Total would supply. They brought a bag full of money for Gbagbo. He ordered them out of his office and told them not to forget the bag of money they had left. A similar exchange took place with the cocoa entrepreneurs.

The same was true for the Companie Eléctricité Ivoirienne, the national power company. The contract with the CIE was due for renewal in early 2004 and the French (SAUR) demanded the right to continue to operate the national electricity grid in the way in which they had been operating previously. The Ivory Coast government consumed about 170 billion CFA francs (about 260 € million) a year. The French would supply overpriced gas to the ABB Azito gas power plant as their rent on the power station and grid but would charge everyone else fees for power. These fees were not to be taxed as revenue to the operators but remitted directly to them. There was no value added to the national economy, no amortisation of the debt incurred in building the stations and the grid and with no control over the prices. Gbagbo and his ministers said that this was unreasonable and promised that when the current contract ran out it would be open for international tender. The French were fuming.

The French (Bouygues) had agreed with President Bedie in 1999 to build a new bridge in Abidjan. The price agreed was 120 billion CFA francs (183€ million) or 200 billion if it were to be a bridge with an upper and lower level. When Gbagbo took office he was appalled at this gross overspend and cancelled the contract. When Gbagbo was in China the Chinese said they could do it for 60 billion (for an upper and lower bridge) and they were given the contract in May 2002. The French were furious but could only continue to plot against Gbagbo. There were many such conflicts. The French knew their game was up and decided to do something about it. They decided that, whatever the cost, they would remove Gbagbo from office or make the country ungovernable (except with French help). This was in spite of Gbagbo paying over US$4 million to Chirac for his presidential campaign in France.

France’s allies in the Ivory Coast were among the most bloodthirsty of Africa’s irregular soldiers/killers. Most of these rebels were not Ivorian at all. They were the wandering mercenaries of the Liberian and Sierra Leone wars who had attached themselves to the military coup leader, Robert Guei whom Gbagbo defeated in a free election. There were three rebel groups which appeared in theIvory Coast: The Ivory Coast Patriotic Movement (MPCI) – which was the first to take up arms against the government; The Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP); and The Ivorian Popular Movement of the Great West (MPIGO). Of these the MPCI had a political base within the Ivory Coast formed from Guei supporters and the large immigrant communities of Burkinabes, Malians and Guineans who had come to Ivory Coast as economic migrants. (They were better known by their initials Mouvement Pour Les Cons Ivres – because they showed up in battles drunk and drugged.) The other two were ad hoc groups of Liberians, defeated Sierra Leonean rebels and Guinean dissidents offered shelter and support by Charles Taylor of Liberia. The familiar faces from the Liberian civil war were seen in the television clips of the rebels. Moskito Bockarie from Sierra Leone was familiar face among the rebels. Ukrainian pilots and mercenaries from these wars and the wars in the Congos andAngola appear regularly. A substantial proportion of the rebels spoke English with each other rather than French.

After a period of sustained fighting a temporary cease-fire was agreed. In this the rebels were in control of a large portion of the West and North of the country. This didn’t mean peace for the poor Ivoirians living in rebel-controlled areas. On the 15th of February 2003 the UN Humanitarian Envoy for the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, Carolyn McAskie, reported that “Western Cote d’Ivoire, extending roughly from the coastal town of Tabou to the mountain towns of Man, Danane and Touba, remains highly insecure because of continued fighting between armed elements and the national army. The presence of Liberian militias running rampant and drugged kids committing every kind of atrocity possible has rendered the area a ‘no-go’ zone. She went on, including the North, “The complete interruption of all administrative functions, including banking, in rebel-held areas since September 2002 is causing a crippling lack of cash flow, especially in the north, and the continued paralysis of health services.” There were almost one million internal refugees inside the Ivory Coast.

In that climate of civil disorder, the French invited all the warring parties, to a peace-making session from 15 to 23 January 2003 at Linas-Marcoussis, in France. Attending the meeting were representatives of the legitimate Ivory Coast Government as well as the rebel factions and the other major Ivory Coast political parties who were not in the government. At that meeting the political opponents of the Gbagbo Government and the rebel military forces agreed to create a government of reconciliation, which would include them. The French and the rebels decided that the opposition would play a crucial part in the running of the government. They demanded the posts of Minister of Defence and Minister of the Interior. This was never to be. However, a ‘neutral’ Prime Minister Seydou Diallo, was put in to supervise the harmony.

Perhaps the most devastating effect of the rebellion was the reaction of the French and the international community to the division of the country. In an effort to restore order and constitutional rule the treaties signed in Linas-Marcoussis, Accra, Pretoria and Ouagadougou were designed to restore peace and order in the Ivory Coast; all enshrined the notion of condominium. That is, the international community insisted that the Prime Minister step down and be replaced by an appointee chosen by them and that there were Cabinet posts reserved for the ministers appointed by the rebel political parties. Gbagbo and the FPI, who had been democratically elected in 2000, had to accept a prime minister not of their choosing and a Cabinet made up, in part, by rebels.

These new Cabinet ministers demanded large salaries, cars and jobs in their ministries for their friends and families. No notion of competence or training was used in the selection of the new Cabinet ministers; only that they were chosen by the rebel bands. In fact, few actually showed up to work. The civil administration of the country was incoherent and conflicted as the national interest took second place to the demands of rival Cabinet ministers. The FPI was effectively stymied by internal dissent from a Prime Minister who refused to obey the wishes of the President and the National Assembly and a Cabinet which refused to obey any rule other than the Law of the Jungle.

In May 2004, the UN found mass graves in the northern town of Korhogo. Later there were gun battles between rival rebel factions which left 22 people dead in Korhogo and the central town ofBouake. These firefights began with a late-night attack on June 20 by “heavily-armed elements” on a convoy travelling from Burkina Faso to Korhogo carrying rebel leader Guillaume Soro. The violence in June followed what forces loyal to rebel leader Guillaume Soro described as an assassination attempt, for which they blamed his Paris-based rival Ibrahim Coulibaly, known as IB.  Internecine warfare spread across the rebel-held areas with rebel militias attacking other militias.

On 29 February 2004 the UN Security Council agreed to send a peacekeeping force of more than 6,000 troops to Cote d’Ivoire to supervise the disarmament of rebel forces and to prepare for the presidential elections due in October 2005. The council voted unanimously in favour of creating the new peacekeeping force after the United States dropped its earlier opposition to the proposal. The UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) formally came into existence on April 4 for an initial period of 12 months. It replaced the existing UN mission in Cote d’Ivoire, known by its French acronym MINUCI, which included a handful of military liaison officers.

France made it clear that its 4,000 troops in Cote d’Ivoire would not become part of the UN peacekeeping force. The French soldiers kept the peace and everything else they could find. Twelve French soldiers on peacekeeping duties in Ivory Coast were arrested in connection with a bank theft three in September 2004. The troops had been assigned to protect a branch of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) and were charged with stealing $120,000 (100,000 euros). This was not a unique case of the French troops stealing and looting.

The UN also voiced concern at violent clashes between the army and young villagers in several areas, denouncing “acts of intimidation, extortion and numerous obstacles to free movement committed by army elements.” Citing cruel and inhuman treatment and violation of property rights, he said similar abuses had also been perpetrated against ethnic groups, such as the Bété, Bakwé, Attié and Ebrié. People were being attacked, robbed and killed for their tribal identity.

What did they expect? The rebels who separated the North from the South of the country after their 2002 rebellion were not regular soldiers. There were less than 1,250 regular soldiers in the New Forces which morphed, by decree, into the FRCI. These rebel troops were shoemakers, porters, rubbish collectors, itinerant labourers. They were joined by experienced mercenaries from the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia who showed them how to run these rackets. At the time of the rebellion all the civil servants, educators, doctors and the other members of the professional class fled from the North. The poor farmers who were left there paid no taxes, no rents, no customs fees, and no services to the central government. They paid these only to their local rebel commanders. They are still paying these to their local commanders. Only now, this corrupt and vicious system has spread to cover the whole of the Ivory Coast since this malignant northern rabble was allowed to take over power in the South and the municipalities.

Throughout 2004 and afterwards the rebels refused to carry out their agreed disarmament. They were engaged in an internal struggle and a continuous struggle against the FANCI. They continued to refuse to allow normalcy (schools, hospitals, public services) to be restored across the country. On November 4, 2004, the Ivory Coast government launched air strikes against rebel positions in the northern part of the country, around the self-proclaimed rebel capital town of Bouake. The air strikes forced the UN to suspend its humanitarian operations, and marked the first hostilities since the signing of a ceasefire in May 2003.

On November 6, 2004, aircraft from the Ivorian Government struck a French military base where the rebels had been given shelter, resulting in the deaths of nine French troops and the wounding of an additional 31. In retaliation, the French military destroyed two Sukhoi-25 aircraft, in addition to five helicopters and an Ivorian army weapons cache, effectively destroying the Ivory Coast Air Force. The order to retaliate was reported to have come directly from French President Jacques Chirac. The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, held an emergency session to discuss the situation in the country and called for an end to all military operations by Ivory Coast forces.

In the meantime, pro-Gbagbo militants began setting fire to a number of French schools in the capital, Abidjan, and looting French property. In response to escalating tensions, the French military dispatched three Mirage jet aircraft to another French military base in Libreville in nearby Gabon, to be put on standby. The French Ministry of Defence, on the following day, announced that it was dispatching as well an additional 600 troops as reinforcements; 300 of which were dispatched from Libreville, while the remaining 300, along with a squadron of gendarmes, were sent from France.

The destruction of the Ivorian Air Force was a serious blow, as this was the Government’s main advantage over the rebels; the control of the skies. The French destroyed this. This allowed the rebels to continue their rebellion and the French to continue to manipulate the Ivory Coast at its pleasure.

This came up for debate in the United Nations. An emergency UN Security Council meeting in New York condemned the bombing raid as a violation of the May 2003 cease-fire and gave the 10,000-strong peacekeeping force permission to use “all necessary means” to stop the fighting. It didn’t recognise that the troops who should be suppressed were the French troops. As the Ivory Coast spokesman, Desire Tagro, said “The Security Council ought to be taking action against France; we are going to inform the entire world… that France has come to attack us.”

 

unnamed

The French effectively divided the country in half.

The United Nations peacekeeping force,  the ONUCI was created at a time of relative stability in Cote d’Ivoire with a mandate “to use all necessary means” to monitor a May 2003 ceasefire agreed in Linas Marcoussis and to assist a government of national reconciliation to re-establish peace, disarm and resettle combatants and organize elections in October 2005. It was also charged with protecting UN staff and civilians under threat.  It was set up to assist the legitimate government of the Ivory Coast, that of the democratically-elected, Gbagbo, to achieve peace and reconciliation under the terms of the agreement. This agreement included several parts; the most important of which were the integration into the governing process of some ‘rebel’ or ‘new forces’ leaders and, most importantly, the disarmament of the rebels.

The UN forces set up camps near the fault line of the new border dividing North and South. This was set up under a UN mandate. However, the mandate had a double-edge. The UN peacekeepers were to enforce their mission “in coordination” with troops from France, the former colonial power, which remained under separate command in the Ivory Coast. This French “Unicorn Force,” which was beefed 6,000 men had already intervened in the civil war at an early stage; indeed the French both provoked the rebellion and gave arms and shelter to the rebels. Under the UN mandate which was adapted by the French, the French troops were authorised “to use all necessary means” to support ONUCI.

According to UN observers there was a fundamental ambiguity about the role of the French, who were there under agreements with the country as well as agreements with the United Nations. The agreements with the host country were of long standing and dealt with the relations of French support for the government of the Ivory Coast. None of these state to state treaties allow the French to establish contacts with or support for rebels. The French activities, under these agreements, are to support and protect the legitimate government of the Ivory Coast.

The way the two supposed UN peacekeeping forces worked together in Cote d’Ivoire is spelled out under mutually agreed rules of engagement. The UN rules of engagement specify that troops must “never fire at civilians but only at clearly identified armed combatants.”

Both ONUCI and Unicorn operate under a “Chapter Seven” mandate from the United Nations. This authorizes the use of force when faced with a threat. However, a Chapter Seven mandate can be set at three different levels of authority and the rules in the Ivory Coast do not authorise the use of force against unarmed civilians However the French caused a major incident against civilian lives on November 9, 2004.

When the pressures became too strong the Ivory Coast Government attempted to curtail the wildest excesses of the rebels. In retaliation, the French troops seized the airport; shot down the nation’s air force and attempted to march on the Presidential palace to capture Gbagbo. The citizens of Abidjan rallied at the Hotel Ivoire, on the way to the President’s house, empty-handed to try and prevent the French from attacking the Presidential palace. On November 6, 2004 the ‘French Peacekeepers’ opened fire on unarmed Ivoirians from tanks and armoured cars. There are several contemporary videos of this barbarity available on You Tube. The most comprehensive reports are at https://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_detailpage&v= eiBGEJs3G3g and also  athttp://www.youtube.com/watch? v=5A4l3xg-jvE. The second shows the role of French snipers on the upper floor of the hotel. Sixty-four Africans were killed and 1.300 wounded. This was all planned in advance as can be seen by the positioning of snipers in the upper rooms.

A colonel of the Ivorian gendarmerie affirmed that French forces on November 9 fired directly and without warning upon the crowd of protestors gathered in front of the Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan. Colonel Georges Guiai Bi Poin, who was in charge of a contingent of Ivorian gendarmes dispatched to control the crowd and coordinate with the French troops, says that the order to fire came from the commander of the latter, colonel D’Estremon. Colonel Gaia Bi Point is quoted saying: “French troops fired directly into the crowd. They opened fire on the orders of their chief Colonel D’Estremon, without warning.” “Not one of my men fired a shot,” he said. “There were no shots from the crowd. None of the demonstrators was armed — not even with sticks, or knives or rocks.”

The commentary from the ‘international community’ was muted and circumspect. Here, a Western country with a seat on the UN Security Council shot down another nation’s air force and slaughtered its citizens in cold blood and there was barely a ripple from Western commentators. Their next step was to demand that the Ivory Coast dissolve its National Assembly. This was a suggestion by Obasanjo of Nigeria. The UN agreed. However, the Ivoirians resisted and began to confront the UN ‘peacekeepers’. The UN relented.

The question to be asked is how in the 21st century could such a policy of murder and mayhem be conducted by a Western government against unarmed Africans in the name of the ‘international community’? It was clear that the Ivoirian citizens did not agree to be dominated and murdered by the French and other peacekeepers. The response of the international community was even more frightful, disturbing and ominous. The rebellion was sustained in the Muslim north of the Ivory Coast by the installation of the UN of almost exclusively Muslim peacekeepers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco and Jordan. To this day the prevalence of Muslim peacekeepers is overwhelming.

The Muslim rebels are hosts to a UN force composed almost exclusively by Muslim UN peacekeepers and these same peacekeepers are now in the South as well. The ostensible reason for the original rebellion was that Muslims were not being considered equal citizens in the country. This was not a religious issue; it was a cultural one as well as presenting a danger from the large groups of radicalised jihadists incorporated in these peacekeeping troops. Fundamentalism is not their only virtue.

In addition to the eighteen other French peacekeepers who were tried and convicted in French courts for rape, murder, theft, bank robbery and intimidation in the Ivory Coast there were scores of other UN peacekeepers indicted for similar crimes in the Ivory Coast and elsewhere in Africa.  In 2003 UN peacekeepers were repatriated for abuse in Burundi; scores of UN troops were censured for sexual abuse in the Sudan; there were even more in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia; and there were similar accusations and trials which were underway in the Ivory Coast at the time of Gbagbo’s ouster. The United Nations is not now, nor has it ever been a neutral presence in the countries in which it operates, nor have they proved themselves to be more than just another army living off the locals with impunity.

The French withdrew many of its civilians in Abidjan and pressed on with its efforts to unite the warring rebel bands. As it did so it pledged to assist in the disarmament program for the rebel forces. It never happened. However the “Cellule Africaine” which ran the French program in Africa continued to plot the overthrow of the Gbagbo government. The French encouraged, armed, supported and sheltered these turncoats and dissidents, and gave them a voice in international meetings.

It must be stated when the phrase, the ‘French’, is used it has a special meaning. Unlike in ordinary democracies, the French version of democracy is a special case. By tradition in France, foreign affairs are the French president’s private domain. The foreign affairs minister only applies his policies. France is the only Western country where foreign policy is not a debating topic. The sovereignty of the French people does not mean anything even if it has elected the president directly. The Parliament has no checking powers and is quietly relegated to domestic matters.

The French Republic is free to act as an authoritarian neo-colonial regime, not as a democracy. President Chirac had a free hand with international matters (as did Sarkozy and now Hollande). To this day, France has never had to introduce an internal democratic debate to discuss its own foreign policy. This is the key to understanding French foreign policy: it is above all the policy of one man or group of men, not of a nation. For decades the French President installs and supports African Presidents and uses his troops to keep them in power. They do the French bidding and the French troops suppress internal dissent. In return the African presidents are required to pay a fee to the French Presidency of millions of dollars each to defray French campaign costs and French businesses operate as monopolies in the franćafrique zone.

The French continued to support plots against Gbagbo, using its specialist coup plotters who were sent to the country. There have been five, well-documented, coups planned against Gbagbo. Indeed, the meddling and murderous actions of France’s Force Licorne were documented by its own leaders. A recent book by  Lieutenant-Colonel Georges Peillon, (The Great Silence) writing about the French support of the Ivory Coast rebels leaves no question about the French interference with democracy and their covert support of the rebels. Peillon, writing under the nom de plume Georges Neyrac, was the spokesman for the Force Licorne. The perfidious role of Chirac and his apprentice Villepin is described in detail in the book as is the scandalous order to kill the innocent demonstrators in 2004 by Michèle Alliot-Marie. Pouchet, Chirac’s ‘agitator in residence’ attended many meetings in Burkina Faso, Mali and in rebel territory planning coups against Gbagbo’s government. The minutes of these meetings have been made public.

The French method of making a coup was well-documented in an intelligence report on a meeting in Burkina Faso. They decided to promote a coup in Abidjan on 22-33 March 205 According to intelligence reports, the planning for this went back a long way. There was a meeting held on Sunday 10/10/04, in the village hall of the town hall of Korhogo from 09h30 to 12h45. Present at this meeting were the Presidents of Burkina Faso and Mali (BLAISE COMPAORE and AMADOU TOUMANI TOURE). Also present was the head of the Rebel Forces and President of the RDR, ALLASSANE DRAMANE OUATTARA. The French were represented by PHILIPPE POUCHET (as Chirac’s spokesman); also there were ADAMA TOUNKARA, mayor of Abobo; ISSOUF SYLLA, mayor of Adjamé; ISSA DIAKITE, KANDIA CAMARA, GEORGE KOFFI and MOROU OUATTARA.

Alassane Outtara opened the meeting and introduced Pouchet. He spoke and said that he had come directly from Chirac with the message that “ADO (Ouattara) your son and brother will be President of the Republic of Côte d`Ivoire before the elections of 2005.” Chirac has promised “There will be no disarmament in Côte d`Ivoire without our agreement. It is necessary that the agreements of ACCRA III are voted on before they can insist on disarmament. All France and JACQUES CHIRAC support ADO to lead him to taking place in five months; i.e. in March. We have recruited mercenaries who are currently in training in Mali and in Burkina Faso. In March we will lead ADO to power with the assistance of the mercenaries who are in training with Burkinabé officers and Malians. Our objective it is to put ADO in power”. “I shall come again in December, with President Campaore, and will introduce you to the mercenaries. Ouattara will return in March to take power.”

The next speaker was Blaise Campaore, the President of Burkina Faso, who thanked Pouchet and Chirac. He criticized the Ivory Coast Government for ignoring the rights of Ouattara and said “It is my name which spoiled in this business. In Burkina my officers are doing remarkable work with the mercenaries to make them ready. I support you. We are moving to put things in place from there for you. Do not be afraid; we will win the battle in a little time. In five months all will be ready”.

FOFIE KOUAKOU, a local leader got up to make his complaint. He said “It is that this rebellion which has killed our children. I acknowledge that we are tired and that we cannot continue the rebellion in our area. The North has profited nothing from this rebellion. Thanks to Mrs. KANDIA our children were released. ADO is our son. We also fight for him but his men do not cease to punish us every day. But, if it is like the white man says, that we will be in power in March, we will also fight for this.” “But before leaving, please instruct your men not to maltreat our children; especially our daughters.”

The next meeting of importance was held on the 20th of February from 1000 to 1420 in Sikasso, in Mali. Present at the meeting were President CAMPAORE, President (and host) TOURE; PHILIPPE POUCHET representative of Chirac; COLONEL CYRILLE DUBOTT, representing the French Army stationed in Gabon; WATTAO ; The Imam IDRISS KOUDOUSS; several mayors and military commanders of the ‘Blue Brigade’. The meeting was opened by Toure who said that he regretted that everyone had to make the journey but that it was better to meet outside the Ivory Coast. He said that victory was in their grasp and that POUCHET would make it clear.

POUCHET took the floor and introduced Colonel DUBOTT who was sent especially for this by Chirac. “He was chosen for this because he is not known in the Ivory Coast” POUCHET went on that Col. DUBOTT would accompany POUCHET to Abidjan to stay at the TIAMA HOTEL for four days. There he would plan the details of the coup and co-ordinate the mercenaries in their attack on the capital. “The town of Abidjan will be taken during the night of the 22nd of March and the takeover should be completed by the afternoon of the 23rd.” The plan is for the mercenaries to stage an ‘invasion;’ and the French peacekeepers will intervene on their side, claiming that an attack on foreigners was being made by Gbagbo’s loyalist forces. In the run up to this there would be several provocations and incidents which would convince the world that Gbagbo’s forces were getting restless.

POUCHET emphasized that the reason for the timing was that the Unicorn Force (the French contingent) would be obliged to leave by the 4th of April if the UN mandate was not renewed. “Thus we have the duty to remove Gbagbo and replace him with Ouattara by this date” Pouchet and Ouattara would stand by in Gabon from the 18th of March. The mercenaries trained by Campaore will stay in Bouake until the 17th when they would transfer to Port Bouet. The new equipment would be made available to them by a convoy of 4 x4s led by IDRISS KOUDOUSS. These would join up with the rebels who would start infiltrating Abidjan from the 20th. At that time the heavy equipment and weapons provided through Burkina Faso would be made available and the rebels would take up their positions at the designated places in Abidjan.

On the morning of the 22nd the RDR would stage a march though Abidjan in which some of the rebels would participate. Colonel DUBOTT was to disperse his mercenaries to selected areas of the city. Then, after a planned disturbance, the coup would begin. Superior intelligence thwarted this coup and the FANCI was informed in advance of the planned coup and prevented it. There were four other such plots planned by the French.

On Tuesday the trial of Mrs, Gbagbo and many of the Gbagbo loyalists will start. It is an outrage that such a trial should take place.

The Election of 2010

These constant attacks on Gbagbo, the FPI and the Ivoirian people did not cease. Still less was there any movement towards the promised disarmament. The rebels refused to disarm. They demanded that they be integrated into the FANCI (the national army); retaining their grades and receiving back pay for the time they were in rebellion. The absence of disarmament was crucial. In order to proceed to the next election it was necessary to prepare a proper electoral roll and set up an infrastructure to carry out the basic administrative functions for governance. Virtually all the civil servants, teachers, doctors, engineers and professional people had fled the North as the rebellion began. There were no schools, universities, banks, hospitals or city administrations operating in the North from 2002 until 2010 when the election was scheduled to happen. The rebels had destroyed almost all the administrative files: records of births, deaths, marriages, property, taxes, school certificates; citizenship; drivers’ licenses; health records; bank deposits; etc. No one in the North paid income taxes, customs duties, or other fees to the Ivory Coast government in the South. All of the electricity in the North came from the South; as did the water, fuel and communications systems. It was kept turned on by the French owners of these monopolies during the secession of the North even though there were many who begged Gbagbo to turn off the water, electricity, fuel deliveries and the telephone system to cut off the North and return it to the stone age. The South picked up the bill through the extra changes imposed by the French monopolists. Gbagbo could turn all these services off with great ease and on the basis that the North wasn’t paying the government for these services; not for any political reason. The South was subsidising the North. Gbagbo refused to turn off the services.

Without disarmament the administrators sent up to the North to register people to vote were afraid to do so. The rebel troops harassed them and the people seeking registration had no proof that they were, indeed, citizens. The rebels held open air rallies, surrounded by their soldiers, where people’s names were placed on the electoral roll, willy-nilly. It was a fraudulent exercise; particularly as they registered the Burkinabe, Liberian and Malian rebels as Ivory Coast citizens with the right to vote.

The French intervened and took on the responsibility of voter registration. In the long run up to preparing for the elections in the Ivory Coast the French imposed the company SAGEM, a subsidiary of the French company, Safran, as the vehicle to prepare, along with the indigenous INEC (electoral commission) a list of voters for the upcoming elections. This contract was initially to cost around 120 million Euros. This was to prepare an electoral register and the suitable voting cards. Not only did this take a very long time but it was flawed and unreliable.

The fundamental problem is that there was collapse of the political will to resolve these conflicts. Until March 2007 when the contesting parties met in Ouagadougou to sign the Ouagadougou Accord which formed the basis of the revised political structure, the North and the South were at least demonstrating that they had a point of view. After Ouagadougou the conflict of ideas and political initiatives were subsumed in jockeying for advantage in an election that was constantly postponed.

The result was delay and dissatisfaction. They had a government, made up of a mixed cabinet formed from mongrel and traitorous parties, totally incapable of uniting on any coherent economic, social or political policy. There was an army of mixed rebels and loyalists who did not take orders from a central command; further enfeebled by constant stories of plots and coups. The New Force warlords remained unhappy with Soro (their commander) and they threatened to kill him regularly.

The only people who were happy with this were the French. They had succeeded in restoring their neo-colonial hold over the country. Their businesses had returned in force to the Ivory Coast and controlled over 65% of all its commerce. The United Nations had agreed to pay for most of the peacekeeping troops, including the French peacekeepers. The nations of the European Community were helping subsidise the ‘identification’ process which put millions of Euros into the hands of a French company. The Ivoirians of both the North and the South were impotent and made do with competing for the best seats on the Ivoirian Titanic.

On the fiftieth anniversary of its independence, the politicians of the Ivory Coast announced that the oft-postponed national elections would take place on October 31, 2010. Unfortunately, for the large bulk of the Ivoirian population this election would be a cruel joke. Elections are meant to resolve problems; to clarify the political power issues; to charge political victors and parties with the responsibilities for the programs they campaigned for during the election. In this election the parties did not have programs; half the country was occupied by a piratical rabble of failed soldiers; no disarmament of the rebels had effectively taken place; no legitimacy was ascribed to the voting rolls or the electoral process; the occupying French forces and their UN supporters dominated the security of the country; and the aged and fading political party leaders wallowed in the mud of indecision.. It was a shambles. Although Gbagbo had a lead in the ballot there was a need for a runoff between Gbagbo and Ouattara. The runoff ballot was held amidst major fraud in polling places in the North, intimidation of voters by rebel soldiers, and incompetent mathematics in evaluating the results.

As the results came in from around the country it was clear to the poll observers that Gbagbo maintained a lead over Ouattara. Near the end of the counting of the ballots the Ouattara team announced that Ouattara was the winner. His victory was announced at Ouattara’s campaign headquarters by his campaign manager. This had no legal effect or legitimacy but the international community began to trumpet Ouattara’s purported victory. The actual ballots cast were collected by the Electoral Commission and delivered to the Constitutional Court; the legal body established to pronounce on the validity of an election under the Constitution. The French, buoyed by their successful recent intervention in Guinea where they managed to advance their candidate, Alpha Conde, to the Presidency, were sure that their manipulation of the voters’ roll and their protection of the Northern rebel leadership would give them an unassailable lead in the runoff election. However, the blatant vote-rigging in several Northern constituencies (where more people voted than were on the electoral roll) and where armed rebel troops surrounded the polling stations making sure that voters voted ‘correctly’ were so blatant that a real count could not be made in the requisite period.

The Constitutional Court examined the situation and the voting procedures and declared that President Gbagbo was re-elected. This was in opposition to the Ouattara electoral commission which declared their man as the winner.

At that point the French, the U.N. and their hangers-on (the European Union and Hillary Clinton) said that Gbagbo should withdraw from office despite his victory. They made an effort to persuade the ECOWAS (Union of West African States) to use violence against the civilian population in the Ivory Coast. The French were determined, as ever, to persuade others to fight their battles for them if bullying on their own wouldn’t work. The Ghanaians, South Africans, Zimbabweans and others demanded that the Constitutional Court be heard and its verdict allowed, but the Federation of Mendicants, Beggars, Buffoons and Imbeciles which made up the vast African dependencies of Francafrique, won the day in ECOWAS.

This stand-off prevailed for a month or so with Ouattara and his men holed up in the Hotel Golf in Abidjan, protected by the French Army and the UN peacekeepers. Violence began to break out in the countryside, in the West, where rabid bands of rebels joined up with the Dozos in a program of mass slaughter and genocide. Thousands were killed, injured, raped and driven from their homes as the Northerners, supported by the French and UN troops were let loose on civilian villages. Fighting broke out as well in Abidjan.

The UN hired three Mi-24 helicopter gunships from the Ukraine. They were acquired by the United Nations peacekeepers and were stored in Bouake, in the North. This was the rebel’s headquarters. In an order issued to the UN forces in the Ivory Coast on 27 February 2011 Brigadier General Benjamin Freeman Kusi, the Chief in Command of the ONUCI (UN peacekeepers)  reported the news of the arrival of the Mi-24 helicopters . With no sense of irony he wrote:” Mission: To temporarily reinforce the capacity of action of ONUCI we have deployed in Ivory Coast 3 x MI-24 combat helicopters which will make it possible for the U.N. Force to maintain peace and safety in the country. It will be initially a defensive and dissuasive force. The unit will operate especially on the Bouaké-Yamoussoukro-Abidjan axes but with an operational capacity on the whole of the national territory.” These helicopters were used almost exclusively against the civilian population of the Ivory Coast, standing off about two miles from their targets and shooting indiscriminately at their targets; killing and wounding thousands. French helicopters and tanks joined them in this barrage of civilian areas, killing many more. After a fierce resistance the UN and French helicopters dropped heavy ordinance at the Presidential residence. French Special Forces entered the President’s home and captured the leadership gathered there. The French soldiers then turned their prisoners over to the Ouattara forces.

Many of those captured were molested, beaten and abused on the spot. Others were taken away to be tortured by the rebels. The President and his wife were hurried out of Abidjan to prisons in the North to stop any attempts at rescue. Gbagbo was later turned over to the International Criminal Court for trial. His wife remains in jail in the North. Many of the loyalist soldiers and police fled into Ghana and Liberia, seeking sanctuary. Ouattara declared himself President and the rebels all took up jobs in the new administration.

The involvement of the UN forces in these massacres is the direct responsibility of Ban Ki Moon. There was no authorisation by the UN Security Council for this policy of violence and extermination. There was an international ban on the provision of arms to the country passed by the UN. The green light to shoot at unarmed civilians was given on the 26th of February 2011 by Ban Ki-Moon’s henchman and UN fixer, Choi, who was named the UN representative in the Ivory Coast. In a press interview given by the UN soldiers in Abidjan at the Hotel Sebroko, they announced that they had been given a clear order by Jin Choi to open fire on anyone who stood in the way of UN operations on the ground in the Ivory Coast. When asked further whether this meant unarmed civilians Choi answered “shoot anyone who will interfere in the exercise of your duties, the Boss (BAN KI-MOON) gave us the go-ahead; nothing would happen”. (TWN radio 26/2/11).

The involvement of the UN in genocide is not unprecedented but at least ought to be subject to scrutiny. The immediate result of Choi’s order occurred the next day in Daloa, the third biggest town. There, a  police officer, the son of Martin GROGUHET former PDCI Deputy Mayor of DALOA, was shot to death with a bullet in the back while he was leaving UNOCI headquarter  after freeing  three Young Patriots taken hostage by those soldiers following a peaceful negotiation. There was no appeal. No prosecution. Across the Ivory Coast the rebels, who have been re-armed by the UN with heavy weapons, attacked the FANCI and FDS (government forces). When they responded the rebels (usually dressed in UN uniforms) used the ‘kill order’ issued by Choi to use their heavy weapons against civilian populations. The UN helicopters were used to blow up a supermarket in Cocody.

The imposition of Ouattara has done little to resolve Ivory Coast’s problems. There is no disarmament yet and the warlords are still in control of their fiefdoms. There has been a lot of unrest in the West. There, having been assaulted, murdered and beaten by the Ouattara forces and the Dozos many farmers from the rich cocoa growing region have been driven from their farms; some seeking sanctuary among their ethnic relatives across the Liberian border and some gathered in refugee camps. Their former farm labourers, under the generic term ‘Mossi’ (immigrants from Burkina Faso and Mali) have taken over these farms and have claimed them for their own. Ouattara has just declared that these imported Burkinabe farm workers are now Ivoirians by decree (which is the way he became Ivoirian) and have title to the lands they have seized from their former employers who have tilled these fields for centuries. Seizing the patrimony of farmers is a certain way to provoke unrest.

Today the Ivory Coast is once again a French colony in fact if not in name. Ouattara has no political base except for the French and is in constant fear for his life. He spends his entire time travelling because he is afraid that his rebel friends will assassinate him. The warlords, Vetcho and Wattao are still busy with the illegal trade in diamonds (but no longer with their partner Campaore). With the death of IB Coulibaly. Soro is a bit safer but still nervous. The country is in decline.

In short, despite the thousands of the dead, the displacement of thousands more, there is no safety, justice or progress in the country. Two recent reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International spell this out in detail. There is ‘victor’s justice’ in operation with hundreds of Gbagbo and FPI supporters still incarcerated across the country. The FPI (the Ivorian Popular Front) still have nearly 670 supporters detained two years after the arrest of its leader, Laurent Gbagbo, transferred on 30 November 2011 at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. According to Amnesty International (February 26, 2013), the Ivorian Human Rights League (April 3) and Human Rights Watch (April 4).

They identify 668 civilian and military personnel incarcerated in a dozen prisons from Abidjan to Korhogo, passing by Bouna, Dimbokro, Boundiali, Man, Seguela, Katiola, Toumodi and Odienné.  The main prison, MACA, holds only 514 of them. Most of them are being prosecuted for “violation of the security of the State”, “breaching national defence”, “genocide”, “disturbance to public order” in relation to the second round of the controversial presidential election in November 2010.

Some others have regained their freedom. Most of the leaders remain in prison or arrest. Former Ministers Geneviève Bro-Grebe and Abou Drahamane Sangaré, as well as the former Chief of Cabinet of Gbagbo, Narcisse Kuo Téa, are imprisoned in Katiola, in the centre of the country. Former Prime Minister Pascal Affi Nguessan, in Bouna, near the border with Ghana, along with the son of the former president, Michel Gbagbo, and former Minister Moïse Lida Kouassi, extradited in June 2012 from Togo. The former Governor of the Central Bank of the States of l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEEAO), Philippe Henri Dacoury Tabley, is held at Boundiali, and former first lady of Côte d’Ivoire, Simone Ehivet-Gbagbo, is incarcerated at Odienné, Northwest.  Charles Blé Goudé has been transferred to the Hague.

None of the criminals, rapists, thieves, bandits and murderers of Ouattarra’s side have been arrested despite everyone’s knowledge of their crimes. This is a very strange form of justice. The French prosper. In fact they have claimed full compensation from Ouattara for the property that was damaged in the riots after they shot down the innocents at the Hotel Ivoire plus a doubling of the fee to recompense them for lost business.

The Trial of Simone Gbagbo

On Tuesday the trial of Mrs. Gbagbo and many of the Gbagbo loyalists will start. It is an outrage that such a trial should take place. Simone Ehivet Gbagbo has been more than just Gbagbo’s wife. She has been an important trade union leader and a very active First Lady. Using her own funds she engaged in a variety of assistance programs in the country including building a health centre in her home town Grand Bassam. She has fought for civil liberties and the rights of women, Despite her husband’s and misguided lingering affection for his friends among the French Socialist Party, Simone Gbagbo and Mamadou Koulibaly, the President of the National Assembly, were resolute in pressing for an opening of the Ivory Coast to the world and a loosening of the French stranglehold on their country.

She is guilty of nothing but patriotism and loyalty to her people. The notion that she should stand trial for doing the right thing is not just preposterous it is evil. The rape of the Ivory Coast by the French and the willingness to abet this by the United Nations is an affront to all who seek liberty and independence in Africa. It is victor’s judgement at the worst. Africans should be ashamed at allowing such a biased event to take place without a protest in the UN.. There is no point in asking for shame or restraint from France as this is so foreign to their their nature, but others in the international community cannot keep turning their eyes away from this gross injustice. It is a pity that this should happen and it is a condemnation of what passes for justice in the world community.

Comments

comments

BUY ISSUE
SUBSCRIBE TO MAGAZINE
SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER