Feature Article of Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Columnist: The True Statesman
Diplomatic relations between the Ivory Coast and Ghana have seriously deteriorated in the past few weeks, caused by a series of events.
On the night of September 21st, the small border town of Noé, which lies about 170 km east of Abidjan, was the scene of a bloody and violent clash between an unknown armed group and Ivorian soldiers. About 50 masked men attacked the border post, retreating into the surrounding bush. A few hours before this attack, about a dozen men armed with AK47s attacked a police station in the Port- Boué quarter of Abidjan, killing three people.
After these incidents, the Ivorian government decided to close its border with Ghana, severing land, sea and air links. The border was latter re-open on September 24.
According to the Ivorian authorities, those who carried out the attacks are Ivorian dissidents who had taken refuge in Accra. Ivory Coast’s Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi said the attacks were carried out “by armed elements from Ghana.”
The government in Abidjan has pointed its finger at its neighbour, accusing it of protecting dissidents loyal to former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.
The National Security Capo of Ghana, Lieutenant Col. Gbevlo-Lartey in a sharp rebuttal noted that the attack at the border “is an Ivory Coast internal affair that has nothing to do with Ghana.”
The situation between the two countries worsened when, on September 25th, a Ghanaian judge released on bail Gbagbo’s former spokesman, Justin Koné Katinan, who had been arrested on August 24th for “financial crimes” committed under the previous regime. It was a decision that irritated the government in Abidjan, especially since they had requested that Katinan be extradited to face trial.
The problem with Quattara government is nothing but absolute insecurity, and it’s over ambitious agenda of becoming a power house in the sub region, couple with the influence of France, its former colonial master to use Ivory Coast to destabilize Anglophone states within the sub region.
Excepts of a purported UN expert report published on the Reuters News Agency website recently among other things stated that Ivory Coast is seeking to reclaim the leadership of the sub region from Ghana readily comes to mind.
Why should Ivory Coast be aiming to dislodge Ghana as the most revered and respected country on the continent?
The point about Ghana protecting Gbagbo elements is neither here nor there.
First of all, these two nations belong to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and their citizens enjoy the right of free movement between member countries.
On the other hand, Ghana is a democratic state which respects the right of its citizens including foreigners.
Ghana cannot hand over Ivorian citizens to its government just because the Quattara regime have requested for likes Justin Koné Katinan, to be extradited to Ivory Coast.
As a sovereign nation, Ghana is governed by laws, and these persons have right under international law. It would be unheard of if should import the inquisitorial legal regime practiced in France just to appease Ivorian government.**
What kind of democracy is the French teaching its former colonies in the sub region?
One would have thought that a country which just came out of a post election war will focus its energy on peace building and national reconciliation rather than pursing elements of its former regime.
The Ivorian government should find ways and means and deal with its own internal security matters. There is total breakdown of security in Ivory Coast. There is also unresolved issue surrounding ex-President Gbagbo and his disgruntled supporters.
There is another thorny issue of political reconciliation which is still pending.
France should rather direct its machinations towards building a better Ivory Coast devoid of the witch hunting and needless persecution which brought about the war in the first place.
France has created a lot of crisis for its former colonies including Ivory Coast and our leaders must not sit down idle and watch it destabilize Ghana through Ivory Coast.
If the francophone countries like Ivory Coast are lagging behind Ghana, it is because of France. They have continued to hijack the francophone countries even after independence of these counties, something Britain will never attempt.
More than 50 years after independence, France is still calling the shot in Ivory Coast; installing regimes, removing leaders that are no longer doing its bidding, and propping up new regimes all in a bid to control resource of those countries.
They caused the Libya war with the motive of oil and now they have turned to Ghana because it has oil near the border of Ivory Coast.
France is behind the so-called border dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast. They did the same thing to Nigeria in Bakassi between Nigeria and Cameroon, and we must not allow them to create crisis situation for us on the flimsy excuse of Noé border attack.
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The True Statesman