CÔTE D`IVOIRE: `Such an aggression will only bring frustration and no peace to the sub-region`
Bamba Franck Mamadou «View Bio

Since September 2002, following a failed coup d`état, after forces in Liberia and Burkina Faso triggered a rebellion, Ivory Coast has suffered from civil war, with the northern part of the country coming under rebel control while the government of President Laurent Gbagbo has retained control of the south.

The Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, signed by government and rebel representatives near Paris in January 2003, stipulates that the disarmament process should start as soon as a government of national reconciliation is formed (section VII, paragraph 1). Unfortunately, since the formation of the Government, the rebels have resorted to delay tactics and pretexts in order not to disarm.

They have not heeded the call of the Security Council (on September 27, 2004) urging them to honor the follow-up agreement to the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement known as the Accra III Agreement and `start as soon as possible before 15 October, and without preconditions, the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration process to which they committed themselves in Accra.`

And yet, the legal authorities have made huge sacrifices: in compliance with the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, the ex-rebels were invited into the Government. In addition, the Ivorian Parliament has approved several measures to accommodate the ex-rebels. A side from the amnesty law, which was adopted by a unanimous vote on August 6, 2003, the Parliament has already adopted six other laws, including the law on the establishment, organization and functioning of the Commission on Human Rights, the law on the declaration of the patrimony of the President of the Republic, and the law on the financing of political parties and groupings and electoral campaigns on public funds.
 
Beside these laws, which have already been voted and promulgated, the Government has adopted five bills and passed them on to the Parliament, including the bill on press regulations and the bill modifying the law on the identification of people and the residence of foreigners in Côte d`Ivoire.

As for the bill amending article 35 of the Constitution, it has already been adopted by the Council of Ministers.

Of the 16 amendments recommended by the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, seven have already been adopted, five are being examined by the Parliament, and three are awaited by the Council of Ministers.

In the meantime, the country is still divided. Its resources continue to be plundered by the rebels (over seventy percent of which are foreign mercenaries), while the population continues to suffer from hunger, disease, lack of proper education and medical care, and gross violations of human rights.

It was this vicious circle of `no war, no peace` that the authorities were about to break when one of their warplanes mistakenly hit a group of French soldiers in Bouaké. A few minutes later, French soldiers destroyed two planes grounded in Yamoussoukro, the Ivorian capital, and forced the Security Council to support their very questionable actions.

The hasty destruction of the aircrafts provoked a wave of protests, especially in Abidjan, the commercial capital. Some of these protests turned violent, despite the plea from authorities on national radio and television for protesters not to attack property or people, whether Ivorians or foreigners.

Since then, instructed by their national authorities and outside of any explicit mandate from the United Nations, French troops have launched massive attacks on Côte d`Ivoire, destroying the national civil and military aircraft fleet, bombing and destroying part of the Presidential palace (Yamoussoukro), indiscriminately shooting at unarmed protesters from helicopters and seizing control of the international airport.

By today, November 8, the French has fifty machine guns deployed all over Abidjan. People are trying to prevent the French from reaching the president`s palace and the French are responding by firing directly at people. So far, ten people are dead and, according to the Red Cross, 410 people are wounded. 

The international community should realize that France is using the cover of the UN to forcibly remove a democratically elected government; this after accusing the United States of having intervened `unilaterally` in Iraq. Such an aggressive attitude towards a sovereign country will only bring frustration, and no lasting peace, to the sub-region.

Bamba Franck Mamadou is the Communication & Press Counselor at the Embassy of Côte d`Ivoire in Washington, DC