Ivory Coast's Megalomaniacs: Quattara And Gbagbo

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[Black Star News Editorial]

Alassane Quattara has scored a pyrrhic victory in the Ivory Coast. He could be a big loser in the end unless he can invite Laurent Gbagbo's supporters into the political tent very quickly.

Assisted by the United Nations and Imperial France, Quattara routed his political rival Gbagbo and rousted him from his basement hideout. Yet, beware, why was Gbagbo willing to risk his life at the very end? Mad man or Machiavellian schemer?

Gbagbo's ending was not a good beginning for Quattara's presidency--it undermines it and might eventually bring it down.

Quattara has ordered an "investigation" into Gbagbo's actions. What charges might be brought against him? Crimes against humanity for the massacres of civilians? What about the several hundreds murdered by Quattara's fighters? Who will bring charges against Quattara?

Both men claimed victory in November's presidential election runoff. Several countries, including the United States, France and Britain recognized Quattara, a former IMF man and once prime minister under autocrat Houphet Boigny. The United Nations, African Union and Ecowas endorsed him. African heads of state shuttled back and forth trying to get Gbagbo to step down. A stalemate lasted for months. Human rights organizations documented atrocities against civilian supporters of Quattara by Gbagbo's armed forces.

Eventually guerrillas allied with Quattara broke a ceasefire that had spilt the country in half for 10 years and marched on Abidjan, the commercial capital. According to the UN and Human Rights Watch: the Quattara fighters massacred several hundreds of Gbagbo supporters; they burned people alive in their homes; and, they committed mass rapes. Gbagbo's forces also massacred hundreds, these organizations say.

Both Gbagbo and Quattara should actually be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC); yet, the court is so corrupt under Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, so partisan and so abused by the Western powers that it might protect Quattara and indict only Gbagbo.

Why was Gbagbo willing to die or be captured? He knows Abidjan is hostile territory for Quattara and he has painted his rival as a stooge of the West installed by Imperial France and the much hated Nicolas Sarkozy.

It's hard to imagine that it won't be only a matter of time before Abidjan turns hostile on Quattara unless there is a broad and inclusive government. So, even in "defeat" Gbagbo was actually still bargaining.

Without an accomodation with supporters of his foe Gbagbo, the Quattara presidency will be on shaky grounds. He would have to resort to imposing his regime in the same manner in which he finally gained power--with French and United Nations guns.

Gbagbo knows this. Quattara knows this.

As these two megalomaniacs dueled, the biggest losers were the ordinary people of the Ivory Coast.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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