In Africa, Dictators Play With Fire

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Gbagbo, who has declared himself "president" even though the independent Election Commission ruled that he was defeated by Alassane Ouattara, is playing with hot fire. He is backed by the army chief-of-staff General Philippe Mangou.

[Black Star News Editorial]

In the bad old days, African dictators and their generals could kill countless innocent civilians and avoid prosecution.

It still happens when a president has "special protection" such as the case of Uganda's dictator Gen. Yoweri K. Museveni and Rwanda's Gen. Paul Kagame; both are protected by Washington. Even then, the sand is quickly shifting from beneath their feet. Eventually, they too could be wanted men; hauled off to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Both these generals have lost considerable political and diplomatic capital, previously provided by the United States administration.

Recently leaked U.S. diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks, show that the Americans want Gen. Museveni to be voted out of office in elections in February. The WikiLeaks provided documents, cables by U.S. ambassador in Uganda, Jerry Lanier also states that top Uganda officials, including Museveni's heir apparent, security minister and the ruling NRM party's Secretary General, Amama Mbabazi, were bribed by a U.K. oil company, Heritage Oil to okay a sale of its shares to Italy's ENI as alleged by Tullow Oil, a Heritage rival.

In the cable, a copy of which was obtained by The Black Star News, ambassador Lanier said "we believe" the allegation concerning the bribes to Mbabazi and Uganda's energy minister Hilary Onek; the allegation also was reported yesterday in The Wall Street Journal.

In Rwanda Gen. Kagame has been exposed as a director of genocide since the publication of the so-called "mapping exercise" by the United Nations. The report documents the massacres of Hutu civilians who had fled to the Congo shortly after Kagame and Museveni seized power in Rwanda. A French investigative judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, later accused Kagame of masterminding the assassination of then Rwanda president Juvenal Habyarimana, leading to the ethnic conflagration that provided him with the cover to seize power. The case moved forward because Habyarimana's crew in the downed plane were French nationals.

In light of these developments, Laurent Gbagbo, who is trying to steal the elections he is reported to have lost in the Ivory Coast, must be careful. Gbagbo, who has declared himself "president" eventhough the independent Election Commission ruled that he was defeated by Alassane Quattara, is playing with hot fire. He is backed by the army chief-of-staff General Philippe Mangou, who in essence has committed treason.

Both men must be held responsible if the Ivory Coast sinks into the kind of ethnic killings the world saw in Kenya after Mwai Kibaki, incumbent, reportedly stole the vote there. Several Kenya officials might still be indicted by the ICC at the Hague. Several top Kenya officials can't travel freely outside the country any more.

It's about time African dictators, and the generals that back them, are made clearly aware that if they precipitate bloodshed, sooner or later, they will pay a heavy price.

In the Ivory Coast, the usurper Gbagbo must step down--so should Philippe Mangou.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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