Friday, April 15, 2011

Libya And The Ivory Coast: External Change

By Mohammad el-Ashab
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 14/04/2011
The outgoing former President of the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, failed to abide by the logic of the peaceful transfer of power. He rebelled against the electoral legitimacy of President Alassane Ouattara as he was certain that the tribal rule is more lasting that the voting ballots. However, the Ivory Coast was only able to conclude this state on the rhythm of the massacres where all the conflicting sides were involved.

It seems that the French forces, which were tempted to use power in the face of the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, found a golden opportunity to try out their capacities through intervention in hot zones. They were supported in this by the fact that all the calls at Gabagbo to relinquish his illegal authority fell on deaf ears. The former president was rather inclined to hear the sound of firearms instead of the so-called African wisdom. The rulers of the Dark Continent have been regressing for a long while now and it seems that the African Union has so far failed to find a solution to the Libyan problem although the use of power had preceded the peaceful attempts that were only stirred when it was too late.

The end of Gabagbo in the Ivory Coast could constitute a harsh lesson that Gaddafi must learn. The latter used to tan his face in order to look African and he has witnessed the failure of the Arab countries to support him in the face of the Lockerbie siege. However, he will be unable to look at his face in the mirror because Gabagbo seems to be spreading his shadow through all the corners.

The Ivory Coast was no exception to the conflicts of brothers-enemies over power access following every election. From Kenya to Zimbabwe, and from Guinea to the African jungles, there have been wars and conflicts close to the logic of power violation through military coups. It seems that the African democratic spring was not quite flowery. To say the least, it has been ruined by the concept of monopolization which pushed rulers to hang on to their posts even if this had to take place over human skulls.

Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the African continent opened up to the prototypes of change. It could have settled for the concern of peaceful power transfer if it wasn’t for the tribal and political conflicts that pushed in the direction of aborting all the changes that ended up becoming internal conflicts. The latter brought instability and insecurity in addition to piled up hatred and reprisals. On the other hand, the West was unaware of the African events except for the aspect related to the flow of the economic and commercial interests.

Decades and years went by, and Africa was unable to find the road of salvation. All the recipes that were offered for a change that is based on consolidating the promising and young features of democracy have failed to set the rhythm of the African movement on the tunes of openness, forgiveness, and the relinquishing of tribal, racial, and geographic conflicts. However, the Western feelings - that should have been translated into major projects in order to help the Dark Continent exit the tunnel of underdevelopment, the political and economic repercussions, and the natural disasters, and the masses of the refugees – are just standing still in the wrong direction.

Until the near past, it seemed that the North African region, as a result of its proximity of the northern bank of the Mediterranean Sea, is capable of reflecting a creative version of the Arab-African dialogue that is more effective in developing the features of the alliance. However, the region did not reap any benefits from its geographic location as it only obtained the masses of African refugees looking for a place to secure their dignity under the sun. Meanwhile, the countries of the region are facing major deadlines on the road of the change that was launched by the anger of the Street through the revolutions aiming at overthrowing the regimes that failed to match the sweeping democratic concerns.

Only one thing can hinder this fusion; it consists of all the forms of foreign interference. This is because no matter what the capacity [of foreign interference] is in settling internal conflicts, it does warn of dire consequences. These would affect both the people in power, and the people who are handling the fighting of the ground, and those who impose their authority with the support of the raiding airplanes, even if this authority is based on voting ballots. The internal forces of change remain more useful unless the external interference is coupled with political and economic initiatives aimed at supporting development and at consolidating democracy.

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