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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Columnist: Sidibe, Abdul

President Mills should publicly rebuke Laurent Gbagbo

By Abdul Sidibe

Last Saturday’s news file program finally discussed the Ivoirian crisis. More
importantly, Samuel Okudzato Ablakwa was on the program and he threw some light on
President Mills’ position on the ongoing conflict in Ivory Coast. Mr. Ablakwa
contended that government supports the position of ECOWAS and the international
community. But the Mills administration is still reluctant to openly condemn Mr.
Laurent Gbagbo for usurping power even though he clearly lost the Novemeber 28
election to his opponent, Alhassane Outtara.

Although, President Mills’ ideological sympathies with Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivoirian
Popular Front is understandable because both the President’s party and Gbogbo’s
belong to the Africa’s left lining parties. Africa’s leftist party, usually
suspicious of Europeans because of their colonial and post colonial experiences, are
more likely to support each other.
But that is not an excuse for President Mills to remain adamant in condemning what
many in the international community called a “power grab” or coup d’tat de la carte
by Gbagbo and his supporters. Some African leaders such as Kenya’s Prime Minister
Raila Odinga and the Botswana’s President Seretse Khama Ian Khamae have issued
strong statements on the Ivoirian crisis. Mr. Odinga was even of the view that
military action should be on the table. Ghanaians expect President Mills to do the
same. African leaders should not allow dark-age despots like Laurent Gbagbo to hold
democracy captive.

Pan-Africanism is also not an excuse to throw the entire region into a civil
conflict and deny the already devastated sub-region a chance to heal it wounds and
solve it numerous problems. Many democratic minded Africans supported Gbagbo’s
struggle for democracy in Cote d’Ivoire during his fight with Houphouet-Boigny. That
sympathy is eroded. It turned out that Mr. Gbagbo is far worse than
Houphouet-Boigny. He is nothing than a war-monger in civilized skin.

As the events in Ivory Coast indicate, Mr. Gbagbo and his self proclaimed
Pan-Africanist youth leader Charles Blé Goudé are mere ethnic entrepreneurs. They
are hiding behind national sovereignty and tribal identities to incite violence and
war. The Ivoirian people have suffered enough, it is time to have peace in the once
glamorous West African country. Peace can’t be achieved without recognizing and
accepting the legitimate will of the people. Mr. Gbagbo had lost the election. Any
attempt to use softly spoken words to down play the impeding carnage in the Ivory
Coast by calling for prayer would not help.

It is against this background that we should all support the call from Nana Akuffo
Addo that President Mills, like several other world leaders, openly condemn Mr.
Gbagbo and members of his party for refusing to accept the results of an
internationally supervised elections in that country. President Mills may have
wished that Gbagbo had emerged winner in that election, but he lost. It is time for
the President to call on him to go for the sake of his country and the sub-region.

Failure to do so will send a wrong signal to others and could have implications on
Ghana’s democracy. Democracy is not just about peace, its core principles include
accepting and living by the judgments of the electorate no matter how tough it is
for the candidate. It is in light of these core principles that Rawlings handed
office to Kufour in 2000 and Kufour handed over to the President in 2008. Without
these principles democracy will be just a mere facade.

Instead of calling for a national day of prayer President Mills should call on his
friend Gbagbo to exit power and allow peace to prevail. God does not elect
presidents in a democracy. The people do, and in the case of the Ivory Coast the
people have spoken. 54% of Ivoirians want Outtra, and not Gbagbo, to be President.
Gone are the days of the crusades when Deus Vult, as declared by Pope Innocent, was
the order of the day.