Ivory Coast: Usurper Gbagbo Must Step Down Or Face ICC Prosecution

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[Black Star News Editorial]

It's a good thing that the United States has quickly recognized the rightful winner of the presidential election in the Ivory Coast, Alassane Quattara and that president Barack Obama has sent a strong warning to apparent loser, the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, of the consequences of his reckless actions by clinging on to office.

In recent years, African presidential incumbents have made a mockery of elections before the entire world.

After the independent Election Commission declared Quattara, a former prime minister, the winner of a runoff, a "Constitutional" Council hand-picked by Gbagbo instead declared him the winner and he has now had himself sworn in as "president."

Earlier, the regime had closed the country's borders. The head of the country's military, who currently backs Gbagbo, must also be held accountable for any adverse consequences of Gbagbo's post-election illegal coup.

West African regional power, Nigeria, has demanded that Gbagbo respect the will of the electorate as announced by the independent Election Commission.
Meanwhile, President Obama did not mince words, explicitly warning that the world will "hold those who act to thwart the democratic process and the will of the electorate accountable for their actions." It can't get any more clearer than that.

Even France, which traditionally coddles African dictators close to Paris, has condemned Gbagbo and recognized Quattara, calling on the usurper to "respect the will of the people, abstain from any action that might provoke violence." United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined in, calling on Gbagbo to "do his part for the good of the country and to co-operate in a smooth political transition."

When the military junta in nearby Guinea defied the will of the people and tried to pre-empt democratic elections there, people took to the streets. Reports of those massacred exceeded 150. The international community condemned the junta and the International Criminal Court (ICC) initiated crimes against humanity procedures. The moves forced the collapse of the junta and elections were recently concluded in Guinea.

Gbagbo's illegal government must be similarly swiftly dismantled.

Ivory Coast has been split in two for about a decade; one half of the country, with a predominantly Muslim population backs Quattara while the other half, including Christians, back Gbagbo. Ethnic tension has also been high. The split has destroyed what was once West Africa's strongest and robust economy.

Gbagbo has been a sort of acting president for almost five years since his official term expired, because elections were postponed numerous times. The recent vote was meant to begin the healing process.

Gbagbo narrowly won the first round of voting but didn't gain enough to avoid a runoff. A third candidate backed Quattara, giving him victory in the November 28 runoff, according to most media reports. The Election Commission said Quattara won by 54.1% to 45.9%

The Election Commission was initially hesitant; but eventually it did announce the results, after the initial deadline that had been set for Wednesday. Gbagbo and his mafia associates used the elapsed deadline as an excuse to "nullify" the Commission's announced results and substituted it with an announcement, pulled out of the sky, by Gbagbo's appointed "Council".

Gbagbo and all his mafia associates will certainly face the same consequences as did the mafia junta in Guinea unless they quickly back off their reckless desire to plunge the Ivory Coast into full scale civil war and massive bloodshed. Perhaps he thinks if enough people die, as was the case after the disputed Kenya elections, he too could hang on to a power-sharing arrangement as Kenyan incumbent Mwai Kibaki did.

Gbagbo's dangerous move must be quickly reversed so as not to send the wrong signal to other African countries that will soon hold elections as well, including Uganda, Kenya, and DR Congo. It is clear that there are already motions to compel this reckless man who would play with the lives of Africans to heed to the wishes of Ivorian voters.

Otherwise, the blood of Ivorians will be on his hands--and he will have nowhere in the world to hide and would certainly end up in a jail cell.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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