With the violent overthrow of democratically elected President Gbagbo, Ivory Coast has reverted to its old status of a French colony in fact. The hands of French, Western and UN officials drip with the blood of Ivorians
President Ouattara has been forced by the need to hold some form of plebiscite to demonstrate that his French-imposed presidency of the country has some legitimacy in the Ivory Coast. He has just held municipal and local elections throughout the country which pitted his coalition (RDR and the PDCI) against nobody, as the FPI (the ex-Gbagbo party) opposition has boycotted this sham of an election. With a turnout of below 30 percent the unopposed candidates won. Ouattara and his French puppet-masters call this a victory. To the rest of the world this pathetic effort at political tumescence is the failure and disappointment that everyone expected and awaited.
The problem which plagues Ouattara and his cast of rebel rogues is that they do not have any legitimacy. The last election showed that they could not command a majority of the nation’s voters and reverted to electoral fraud and the vicious murder of thousands of Ivoirians by the French and UN helicopters which mowed down people without regard to their innocence and distance from any military activity in the name of the ‘international community’. They were aided by Dozo irregulars (tribal hunters) who were empowered, armed and protected as they killed their way across the West and centre of the Ivory Coast. The aftermath of this French-imposed rebel victory was the destruction of the lives and livelihoods of innocent Ivoirians who happened to be from non-Northern, non-Muslim ethnic groups. For almost a year and half the residents of areas like Youpogon in Abidjan could not walk their own streets without being afraid of robbery, violence, arrest and murder by the new Ouattara forces who spoke only in Malinke or Dioula. Those who didn’t speak these languages were considered fair game and unprotectable by any forces of law and order.
Since 2002 Ivory Coast has been divided by a rebellion which divided the country in two. This was a scheme devised by the French at the supposed ‘peace process’ at Linas-Marcoussis and has been enforced by the French Army ever since. It was not just a political separation; it was a religious and ethnic divide as well. The French Army separated the rebel North from the South and effectively divided the country along ethnic lines. The French, and later the United Nations, moved in to maintain this division and to protect the rebels from the wrath of the legitimately elected government of Gbagbo.
There is no way of understanding what has happened to the Ivory Coast without understanding the key role of the French in dividing the country and supporting the rebellion for over twelve years. The French defended their extensive economic interests in the country and were happy to murder and pillage the Ivory Coast citizens; to assist in stealing their lands; take back monopoly control of its industries and financial centres for French business; destroy its Air Force; plot coups and assaults against the Gbagbo government; force Gbagbo to accept the illiterate and incompetent rebels as Cabinet members; rig the elections and jail thousands of patriots, including the president, who is currently at The Hague defending himself against claims of a crime against humanity. Other than eating African babies it is hard to imagine anything else the French could not have done to the country.
The reasons for the continuance of French dominance of the Ivory Coast are easy to see. The root cause of this situation is the French Françafrique policy towards Africa; its neo-colonial activities which have blighted Ivory Coast democracy for decades. The French never actually gave up owning and controlling the Ivory Coast even after it had achieved ‘flag independence’; having a flag, a national anthem, a seat in the UN and a football team. The Pacte Coloniale, which had tethered the economy, trade, finance and military structures to France was carried out in every Ivoirian ministry, bank and institution by the hundreds of French nationals sent to the Ivory Coast as ‘advisors’ under the French Ministry of Co-operation. In some ministries there was one Frenchman for every Ivoirian. Ivoirian sovereignty was demeaned by the presence of the French ‘co-operants’ who made many of the actual decisions in running the country. French soldiers and police were based in the Ivory Coast and were responsible for the training, equipping and deployment of the Ivory Coast forces; indeed they were also responsible for the promotions given to Ivoirian officers. To this day the French Treasury continues to control the Ivory Coast currency, its capital reserves and its trade and investment policies. The French Army continues to control the rebel mob of half-trained soldiers and ‘Dozos’ which make up the Ouattara Army, its equipment, its training and its deployment. The French business community dominates almost every aspect of the national economy, even the oil industry and the cocoa industry where it shares its presence with a limited number of overseas companies. Other than those they maintain a monopoly in transport, water, electricity and ports and control most of the international commerce in Ivory Coast products and imports. There are hundreds of French administrators standing alongside Ivorian civil servants, ‘guiding’ their decisions.
It was only the government of the FPI, led by President Gbagbo, who tried to loosen the French reins on the country. When the FPI government of Gbagbo, the democratically elected president, took office after the period of military rule by Guei, there was hope among the people of the country that the economy would improve; that medical and social programs would be reinstated; that the budget would be diverted back from military expenditures to civilian programs; that the needed reinstatement of the infrastructure would be undertaken; that a fair system of electoral reform and citizenship would be undertaken to correct the xenophobia of Bedie’s and Guei’s periods in power.
One of the reasons for the French unhappiness with Gbagbo was that he refused to carry on with the political corruption prevalent and promoted by the French. The country was virtually out of fuel. The director of the S.I.R (Société Ivoirienne de Raffinage) had emptied the reserves of the country’s energy coffers. He fled to France where he was offered sanctuary and immunity for his theft by the French. There was no fuel and no money to buy fuel. The representative of Total-Elf visited Gbagbo's office with the French ambassador and said that they had two ships standing by off the Ivory Coast ports which they could offer to Gbagbo. All they wanted in return was the country’s only oil refinery which they would purchase for one symbolic franc. The French would then operate the refinery as it wished, using the high-priced oil Total would supply, and set the prices for the domestic market. They brought a bag full of money for Gbagbo. He ordered them out of his office and told them not to forget the bag of money they had left. A similar exchange took place with the French cocoa entrepreneurs.
The same was true for the Companie Eléctricité Ivoirienne , the national power company. The contract with the CIE was due for renewal in early 2004 and the French operator (SAUR) demanded the right to continue to operate the national electricity grid in the way in which they had been operating previously. The Ivory Coast government consumed about 170 billion CFA francs (about 260 € million) a year. The French would supply overpriced gas to the ABB Azito gas power plant as their rent on the power station and grid but would charge everyone else hefty fees for power. Additionally, these fees were not to be taxed as revenue to the operators but remitted directly to them. There was no value added to the national economy, no amortisation of the debt incurred in building the stations and the grid and with no control over the prices. Gbagbo and his ministers said that this was unreasonable and promised that when the current contract ran out it would be open for international tender. The French were fuming.
The French (Bouygues) had agreed with President Bedie in 1999 to build a new bridge in Abidjan. The price agreed was 120 billion CFA francs (183€ million) or 200 billion if it were to be a bridge with an upper and lower level. When Gbagbo took office he was appalled at this impending gross overspend and cancelled the contract. When Gbagbo was in China the Chinese said they could do it for 60 billion (for an upper and lower bridge) and they were given the contract in May 2002. The French were furious but could only continue to plot against Gbagbo. There were many similar conflicts in which Gbagbo tried to open the Ivory Coast to international tenders.
The French met in Ouagadougou with Blaise Campaore and Ouattara who had fled to sanctuary in the French Embassy when the rebellion started. They decided that they would take advantage of a visit of Gbagbo to Rome and prepared for a coup – the first of many. When Gbagbo travelled overseas, the French plotters saw their opportunity. On the Wednesday, September 2002, when the rebellion began, there were about 650 rebels holed up in Bouake. These were Guei appointees who had been purged from the Army. They had little equipment and ammunition, as they had expected a conflict of no more than five days. President Gbagbo was in Rome, meeting the Pope and the rebels felt sure that the coup could take place quickly with the President out of the country.
Fortunately for Gbagbo, his loyalist Army was led by his Minister of Defence, Moise Lida Kouassi; a former cellmate of Gbagbo’s when they had been jailed earlier, under Houphouet-Boigny, by his Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. The internal security was in the hands of another cellmate, the Minister of the Interior, Emile Boga Doudou. As the coup began in the second largest town, Bouake, the loyalist troops under Lida Kouassi responded. They were able to surround the rebels, trapping them in the city, and killing about 320 of them. They were positioned for a final onslaught on the remaining 330 rebels but were suddenly stopped by the French commander of the body of French troops stationed in the Ivory Coast. He demanded a delay of 48 hours to evacuate the French nationals and some US personnel in the town. Gbagbo’s army demanded to be allowed to attack Bouake to put down the rebels but the French insisted on the delay. As soon as there was a delay, the French dropped French parachutists into Bouake who took up positions alongside the rebels. This made it impossible for the loyalist troops to attack without killing a lot of Frenchmen at the same time.
During those 48 hours the French military command chartered three Antonov-12 aircraft, one of which picked up a load of weapons in Franceville in Gabon; military supplies stocked by the French in Central Africa. Two of the other planes had started their journey in Durban where Ukrainian equipment and military personnel were loaded on board. The chartered planes flew to Nimba County, Liberia (on the Ivory Coast border) and then on to the rebel areas in Ivory Coast (Bouake and Korhogo) where they were handed to the rebels. Busloads of Burkinabe troops (supplied at a price by Blaise Campaore) were transported from Burkina Faso to Korhogo dressed in civilian clothes where they were equipped with the military supplies brought in by the French from Central Africa and the Ukraine.
All of a sudden there were 2,500 fully armed soldiers on the rebel side as mercenaries from Liberia and Sierra Leone were also brought in by the same planes as well. They were equipped with Kalashnikovs and other bloc equipment which was never part of the Ivory Coast arsenal. France supplied sophisticated communications equipment as well. Once the rebels were rearmed and equipped, the French gradually withdrew, leaving operational control to the Eastern European mercenaries who directed the rebels in co-ordination with the French headquarters at Yamoussoukro.
The fact that the French had intervened to bring about the success of creating a rebel force was not really news for Africa. France has had a long track record of supporting similar violent rebellions in Africa. During and after the genocide unleashed in Rwanda during April 1994, France was shown to have played a similar role in this horrendous crime, which caused the deaths of at least 800,000 people. Belgium, France and the United Nations knew in advance that preparations were being made to exterminate the Tutsi minority in Rwanda, and did nothing to prevent it. The French government, which kept the Hutu-led government in power, protected the killers and supplied them with weapons while the massacres were in progress. ‘Operation Amaryllis’, the French code name for the evacuation of European civilians in Rwanda in 1994, also organized the removal to France of Hutu ‘extremists’ centrally involved in the genocide. At the same time the French military refused to evacuate Tutsi employees of the French embassy in Kigali, who faced extermination. A second evacuation, ‘Operation Turquoise,’ was mounted later, as the RPF (Tutsi) offensive was on the brink of taking power, to bring the Hutu Rwandan government and military leaders to safety in France while French officers managed the ‘transition’ to RPF rule. The French armed the Hutu militias for a period of ten days after the genocide began and intervened to protect the Hutu military when it was endangered. It supervised the removal of the Interahamwe to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where they continued their depredations. Thousands more Africans were murdered earlier in the suppression of the English-speaking population of the South Cameroons; including the poisoning of the Cameroonian President Félix-Roland Moumié in 1960 by the French government-sponsored terrorist group ‘Red Hand’ whose agent slipped thorium into the president’s cocktail in Geneva.
The French demanded that the United Nations peacekeeping forces be activated to maintain the safety of the rebels in their Northern section of the country and to relieve the French of some of its financial burdens of empire. They asked for the provision of West African ECOMOG forces to come to the Ivory Coast to serve as peacekeepers. However, this African ‘peacekeeping’ was designed to be the preserve of francophone countries, primarily Senegal. These francophone countries are under the direct or indirect control of the French army. Their officers are trained in France or by French soldiers in the country. Their armament and supplies come from France and are supplied on credits from the French Treasury. Their foreign intelligence and military communications systems, and quite often their transport systems, are run by French officers. They are, to all extents, a black French surrogate military forces. They offered little succour to the Ivory Coast patriots but spread the costs of their occupation to the UN. Despite having lost the rebellion, the French created a northern rebel state whose borders were patrolled by French and françafrique soldiers and who were financed by the ‘international community’.
Perhaps the most devastating effect of the rebellion was the reaction of the French and the international community to the division of the country. In an effort to restore order and constitutional rule the treaties signed in Linas-Marcoussis, Accra, Pretoria and Ouagadougou were designed to restore peace and order in the Ivory Coast; all enshrined the notion of condominium. That is, the international community insisted that the Prime Minister step down and be replaced by an appointee chosen by them and that there were Cabinet posts reserved for the ministers appointed by the rebel political parties. Gbagbo and the FPI, who had been democratically elected in 2000, had to accept a prime minister not of their choosing and a Cabinet made up, in part, by rebels.
These new Cabinet ministers demanded large salaries, cars and jobs in their ministries for their friends and families. No notion of competence or training was used in the selection of the new Cabinet ministers. Only that they were chosen by the rebel bands. In fact, few actually showed up to work. The civil administration of the country was incoherent and conflicted as the national interest took second place to the demands of rival Cabinet ministers. The FPI was effectively stymied by internal dissent from a Prime Minister who refused to obey the wishes of the President and the National Assembly and a Cabinet which refused to obey any rule other than the Law of the Jungle.
On 29 February 2004 the UN Security Council agreed to send a peacekeeping force of more than 6,000 troops to Cote d'Ivoire to supervise the disarmament of rebel forces and to prepare for the presidential elections due in October 2005.
After a long period of delay, the ministers from the New Forces took their place in the Cabinet. The violence continued. The post-war violence was not much different than the violence perpetrated during the conflict, except that the French and UN helicopter gunships and tanks were not then being used. According to Guillaume Ngefa, the acting human rights chief in the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) ‘Violations committed include proven cases of summary, extrajudicial executions, illegal arrests and detention, the freeing of people in return for cash, extortion, and criminal rackets against numerous drivers.’ There were 26 extrajudicial executions documented by the UN in Côte d'Ivoire in just one week, including that of a 17-month-old baby; over a hundred other human rights abuses were perpetrated in a single month by the FRCI. This is not only in the military fiefdoms operated by these tin pot warlords in the North since their rebellion in 2002, but in the heart of Abidjan itself.
Mr Ngefa also voiced concern at violent clashes between the army and young villagers in several areas, denouncing ‘acts of intimidation, extortion and numerous obstacles to free movement committed by army elements.’ Citing cruel and inhuman treatment and violation of property rights, he said similar abuses had also been perpetrated against ethnic groups, such as the Bété, Bakwé, Attié and Ebrié. People are being attacked, robbed and killed for their tribal identity. This is what the UN and France have achieved.
What did they expect? The rebels who separated the North from the South of the country after their 2002 rebellion were not regular soldiers. There were less than 1,250 regular soldiers in the New Forces which morphed, by decree, into the FRCI. These rebel troops were shoemakers, porters, rubbish collectors, itinerant labourers. They were joined by experienced mercenaries from the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia who showed them how to run these rackets. At the time of the rebellion all the civil servants, educators, doctors and the other members of the professional class fled from the North. The poor farmers who were left there paid no taxes, no rents, no customs fees, and no services to the central government. They paid these only to their local rebel commanders. They are still paying these to their local commanders. Only now, this corrupt and vicious system spread to cover the whole of the Ivory Coast when this malignant northern scum was allowed to take over power in the South and the municipalities.
Many of the Liberians fighting in the Ivory Coast went home when Charles Taylor fled Liberia. This left a power vacuum among the rebels. They started fighting among themselves and several leaders were murdered. There was a minor civil war going on among the rebels, with each faction blaming the French for not protecting them. In May 2004, the UN found mass graves of the rebels in the northern town of Korhogo. Later there were gun battles between rival rebel factions which left 22 people dead in Korhogo and the central town of Bouake. These firefights began with a late-night attack on June 20 by ‘heavily-armed elements’ on a convoy travelling from Burkina Faso to Korhogo carrying rebel leader Guillaume Soro. The violence in June followed what forces loyal to rebel leader Guillaume Soro described as an assassination attempt, when they blew up his plane. This they blamed on his Paris-based rival Ibrahim Coulibaly, known as IB. Internecine warfare spread across the rebel-held areas as rival warlords fought for turf. The French were unable to reassert control for a lengthy period.
The internecine warfare by the rebels had a spill over effect on the government of Gbagbo. The rebel bands were not controlled by the French and often attacked the villages and military bases of the loyalist Gbagbo forces of the South. With the French unable to control them, these factions of rebels escalated their attacks on the South. Finally, with the arrival of the ECOMOG forces the French gradually reasserted its control of the rebel movements. France made clear that its 4,000 troops in Cote d'Ivoire would not become part of the UN peacekeeping force. The French soldiers kept the peace and everything else they could find to steal. Twelve French soldiers on peacekeeping duties in Ivory Coast were arrested in connection with a bank theft there in September 2004. The troops had been assigned to protect a branch of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). They were charged with stealing $120,000 (100,000 Euros). They were tried and found guilty in a French court. This was not a unique case of the French soldiers stealing in the North. There were several cases of rape and a few murders which involved French soldiers on their own or in concert with rebel bands. Several were tried and sentenced in France. There are several contemporary videos circulated in the Ivory Coast which show the French military complicity in the torture and killing of Ivoirian citizens.
These raids by the Northern rebels against the southern and western towns and villagers were an open defiance of the rebel agreement to disarm. In several international meetings the rebels had committed themselves to a program of disarmament. Disarmament was crucial to resolving the issues which divided north from south. The rebels refused to disarm and the French condoned this.
When the pressures became too strong the Ivory Coast Government attempted to curtail the wildest excesses of the rebels. In retaliation, the French troops seized the airport; shot down the nation’s air force and attempted to march on the Presidential palace to capture Gbagbo. The citizens of Abidjan rallied at the Hotel Ivoire, on the way to the President’s house, empty-handed to try and present the French from attacking the Presidential palace. On November 6, 2004 the French peacekeepers opened fire on unarmed Ivoirians from tanks and armoured cars. There are several contemporary videos of this barbarity available on You Tube. The most comprehensive are http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiBGEJs3G3g and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A4l3xg-jvE The second shows the role of French snipers on the upper floor of the hotel. Sixty-four Africans were killed and 1,300 wounded. This was all planned in advance as can be seen by the positioning of snipers in the upper rooms.
A colonel of the Ivorian gendarmerie affirmed that French forces on November 9 fired directly and without warning upon the crowd of protestors gathered in front of the Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan. Colonel Georges Guiai Bi Poin, who was in charge of a contingent of Ivorian gendarmes dispatched to control the crowd and coordinate with the French troops, says that the order to fire came from the commander of the latter, colonel D'Estremon. Colonel Gaia Bi Point is quoted saying: ‘French troops fired directly into the crowd. They opened fire on the orders of their chief Colonel D'Estremon, without warning.’ ‘Not one of my men fired a shot,’ he said. ‘There were no shots from the crowd. None of the demonstrators was armed -- not even with sticks, or knives or rocks.’
The commentary from the ‘international community’ was muted and circumspect. Here, a Western country with a seat on the UN Security Council shot down another nation’s air force and slaughtered its citizens in cold blood and there was barely a ripple from Western commentators. Their next step was to demand that the Ivory Coast dissolve its National Assembly. This was a suggestion by Obasanjo of Nigeria. The UN agreed. However, the Ivoirians resisted and began to confront the UN ‘peacekeepers. The UN relented.
The question to be asked is how in the 21st century could such a policy of murder and mayhem be conducted by a Western government against unarmed Africans in the name of the ‘international community’? It was clear that the Ivoirian citizens did not agree to be dominated and murdered by the French and other peacekeepers. The response of the international community was even more frightful, disturbing and ominous. The rebellion was sustained in the Muslim north of the Ivory Coast by the installation of the UN of almost exclusively Muslim peacekeepers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco and Jordan. To this day the prevalence of Muslim peacekeepers is overwhelming.
The Muslim rebels are hosts to a UN force composed almost exclusively by Muslim UN peacekeepers and these same peacekeepers are now in the South as well. The ostensible reason for the original rebellion was that Muslims were not being considered equal citizens in the country. This was not a religious issue; it was a cultural one as well as presenting a danger from the large groups of radicalised jihadists incorporated in these peacekeeping troops. Fundamentalism is not their only virtue. In addition to the 18 other French peacekeepers who were tried and convicted in French courts for rape, murder, theft, bank robbery and intimidation in the Ivory Coast there were scores of other UN peacekeepers indicted for similar crimes in the Ivory Coast and elsewhere in Africa. In 2003 UN peacekeepers were repatriated for abuse in Burundi; scores of UN troops were censured for sexual abuse in the Sudan; there were even more in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liberia; and there were similar accusations and trials which were underway in the Ivory Coast at the time of Gbagbo’s ouster. The United Nations is not now, nor has it ever been, a neutral presence in the countries in which it operates;’ nor have they proved themselves to be more than just another army living off the locals with impunity.
In the wake of the civil disturbances created by this massacre of civilians and the Ivoirians rally against the proposed destruction of the National Assembly the French decided that they might do better by planning a coup, ostensibly led by Africans. Among some communication intercepts by Ivory Coast intelligence a recording was made of a contemporary report outlining the French plans for such a coup and the active participation of Ouattara and Blaise Campaore.
They decided to promote a coup in Abidjan on 22-33 March 2006. According to intelligence reports, the planning for this went back a long way. There was a meeting held on Sunday 10/10/2004, in the village hall of the town hall of Korhogo from 09h30 to 12h45. Present at this meeting were the Presidents of Burkina Faso and Mali (Blaise Compaore and Amadou Toumani Toure). Also present was the head of the Rebel Forces and President of the RDR, Allassane Dramane Ouattara. The French were represented by Philippe Pouchet (as Chirac’s spokesman) as well as Adama Tounkara, mayor of Abobo; Issouf Sylla, mayor of Adjamé; Issa Diakite, Kandia Camara, George Koffi and Morou Ouattara.
Alassane Ouattara opened the meeting and introduced Pouchet. He said that he had come directly from Chirac with the message that ‘ADO (Ouattara) your son and brother will be President of the Republic of Côte d`Ivoire before the elections of 2005.’ Chirac has promised ‘There will be no disarmament in Côte d`Ivoire without our agreement. It is necessary that the agreements of ACCRA III are voted on before they can insist on disarmament. All France and Jacques Chirac support ADO to lead him to taking power in five months; that is, in March. We have recruited mercenaries who are currently in training in Mali and in Burkina Faso. In March we will lead ADO to power with the assistance of the mercenaries who are in training with Burkinabé officers and Malians. Our objective it is to put ADO in power’. ‘I shall come again in December, with President Campaore, and will introduce you to the mercenaries. Ouattara will return in March to take power.’
The next speaker was Blaise Campaore, the President of Burkina Faso, who thanked Pouchet and Chirac. He criticized the Ivory Coast Government for ignoring the rights of Ouattara and said ‘It is my name which spoiled in this business. In Burkina my officers are doing remarkable work with the mercenaries to make them ready. I support you. We are moving to put things in place from there for you. Do not be afraid; we will win the battle in a little time. In five months all will be ready’. Fofie Kouakou, a local leader got up to make his complaint. He said, ‘It is that this rebellion which has killed our children. I acknowledge that we are tired and that we cannot continue the rebellion in our area. The North has profited nothing from this rebellion. ADO is our son. We also fight for him but his men do not cease to punish us every day. But, if it is like the white man says, that we will be in power in March, we will also fight for this.’ ‘But before leaving, please instruct your men not to maltreat our children; especially our daughters.’
The next meeting of importance was held on the 20th of February from 100 to 1420 in Sikasso, in Mali. Present at the meeting were President Campaore, President (and host) Toure; Philippe Pouchet representative of Chirac; Colonel Cyrille Dubott, representing the French Army stationed in Gabon; Wattao; The Imam Idriss Koudouss; several mayors and military commanders of the ‘Blue Brigade’. The meeting was opened by Toure who said that he regretted that everyone had to make the journey but that it was better to meet outside the Ivory Coast. He said that victory was in their grasp and that Pouchet would make it clear.
Pouchet took the floor and introduced Colonel Dubott who was sent especially for this by Chirac. ‘He was chosen for this because he is not known in the Ivory Coast.’ Pouchet went on that Col. Dubott would accompany Pouchet to Abidjan to stay at the Tiama Hotel for four days. There he would plan the details of the coup and co-ordinate the mercenaries in their attack on the capital. ‘The town of Abidjan will be taken during the night of the 22nd of March and the takeover should be completed by the afternoon of the 23rd.’ The plan is for the mercenaries to stage an ‘invasion;’ and the French peacekeepers will intervene on their side, claiming that an attack on foreigners was being made by Gbagbo’s loyalist forces. In the run up to this there would be several provocations and incidents which would convince the world that Gbagbo’s forces were getting restless.
Pouchet emphasized that the reason for the timing was that the Unicorn Force (the French military contingent) would be obliged to leave by the 4th of April if the UN mandate was not renewed. ‘Thus we have the duty to remove Gbagbo and replace him with Ouattara by this date.’ Pouchet and Ouattara would stand by in Gabon from the 18th of March. The mercenaries trained by Campaore will stay in Bouake until the 17th when they would transfer to Port Bouet. The new equipment would be made available to them by a convoy of 4 x4s led by Idriss Koudouss. These would join up with the rebels who would start infiltrating Abidjan from the 20th. At that time the heavy equipment and weapons provided through Burkina Faso would be made available and the rebels would take up their positions at the designated places in Abidjan. On the morning of the 22nd the RDR was scheduled to stage a march though Abidjan in which some of the rebels would participate. Colonel Dubott was to disperse his mercenaries to selected areas of the city. Then, after a planned disturbance, the coup would begin. Superior Ivoirian intelligence thwarted this coup.
This was not the first time that the French have planned military coups in the Ivory Coast. There have been three well-documented coups planned against Gbagbo. Indeed, the meddling and murderous actions of France’s Force Licorne have been documented by its own leaders. A recent book by Lieutenant-Colonel Georges Peillon, (The Great Silence) writing about the French support of the Ivory Coast rebels leaves no question about the French interference with democracy and their covert support of the rebels whom he describes in scathing tones. He wrote: ‘The problem of the northern zone was that there was no functioning administrative organization. There were armed bands, called the New Forces, which had plundered all that represented the administration. One could find in the market of Bouaké french fries being sold, wrapped in birth certificates.’
Peillon, writing under the nom de plume Georges Neyrac, was the spokesman for the Force Licorne. The perfidious role of Chirac and his apprentice Villepin is described in detail in the book as is the scandalous order to kill the innocent demonstrators in 2004 by Michèle Alliot-Marie. Pouchet, Chirac’s ‘agitator in residence’ attended many meetings in Burkina Faso, Mali and in rebel territory planning coups against Gbagbo’s government. The minutes of several of these meetings have been made public.
On August 20, 2005 Gen. Mathias Doué, whom President Gbagbo had replaced as army chief of staff the previous November with Gen. Phillippe Mangou publicly called for the departure of President Gbagbo, and threatened to resort to ‘all necessary means’ if the international community failed to ensure his departure. In one tape he threatened a military revolt by Gbagbo’s troops. Doue and his fellow plotters met in Korhogo on August 22, 2005 to plot the military revolt. Doue arrived in a column of 4 x4 vehicles with tinted glass given to him by Campaore. There he met Sherif Ousmane, Wattao, Soumaila Bakayoko and Kousako Fofie (all rebel tin pot warlords). In a four-hour meeting he assured them that he was on their side and promised that there would be French-trained mercenaries ‘Burkinabe, Chadians, Gabonese, etc’ sent to aid them. ‘We have the support of certain African and European heads of State. This would be called ‘Operation Red Tulip’. For these attacks, Sheriff Ousmane, Wattao, Herve Vetcho, Morou Ouattara would lead the troops on the ground. In Abidjan, while the simultaneous attacks would proceed on all fronts, Doué and his new rebellious companions intended to cause a popular rising. It failed.
Doué was not the only senior officer to have publicly expressed his dissatisfaction. In June 2005 Col. Jules Yao Yao, the former Army spokesman, was dismissed, and a few days later arrested and interrogated, along with Col.-Maj. Désiré Bakassa Traoré, the commander of the National Office for Civil Protection, retired Gen. Laurent sa Traoré, the commander of the National Office for Civil Protection, and retired Gen. Laurent M’Bahia. Colonel Yao Yao went into hiding after he was freed, and had openly challenged Gbagbo’s presidency, for example when he and Doué recently threatened to return to ‘assume their responsibilities.’
The French have encouraged, supported and sheltered these turncoats and dissidents, and have given them a voice in international meetings. It must be stated that when the phrase, the ‘French’, is used it has a special meaning. Unlike in ordinary democracies, the French version of democracy is a special case. By tradition in France, foreign affairs are the French president's private domain. The foreign affairs minister only applies his policies. France is the only Western country where foreign policy is not a debating topic for the National Assembly. The sovereignty of the French people does not mean anything nor can it be expressed even if it has elected the president directly. The Parliament has no checking powers and is quietly relegated to domestic matters.
The war of the French against the Ivory Coast was a war by Jacques Chirac against the Ivory Coast and Gbagbo. It was his fit of pique which ordered the French ‘peacekeepers’ to attack and destroy the Ivory Coast air force. It was his order to send over a hundred tanks to surround the Hotel d’Ivoire and President Gbagbo’s house. It was his decision to allow his soldiers to open fire on a crowd of singing youths, totally unarmed and non-threatening, seeking only to stop the French from making a coup or killing President Gbagbo. It was he, African advisor Michel d’Bonnecorse, Defence Minister Aliot-Marie and DGSE chief Pierre Brochand, who made and controlled French policy and programs in Africa. They were aided by a web of French agents assigned to work undercover in French companies like Bouygues, Delmas, Total, and other multinationals; pretending to be expatriate employees. This is normal French neo-colonial behaviour. However, this time the French managed to hook in the ‘international community’ to support them.
These constant attacks on Gbagbo, the FPI and the Ivoirian people did not cease. Still less was there any movement towards the promised disarmament. The rebels refused to disarm. They demanded that they be integrated into the FANCI (the national army); retaining their grades and receiving back pay for the time they were in rebellion. The absence of disarmament was crucial. In order to proceed to the next election it was necessary to prepare a proper electoral roll and set up an infrastructure to carry out the basic administrative functions for governance. Virtually all the civil servants, teachers, doctors, engineers and professional people had fled the North as the rebellion began. There were no schools, universities, banks, hospitals or city administrations operating in the North from 2002 until 2010 when the election was scheduled to happen. The rebels had destroyed almost all the administrative files: records of births, deaths, marriages, property, taxes, school certificates; citizenship; drivers’ licenses; health records; bank deposits; etc. No one in the North paid income taxes, customs duties, or other fees to the Ivory Coast government in the South. All of the electricity in the North came from the South; as did the water, fuel and communications systems. It was kept turned on by the French owners of these monopolies during the secession of the North even though there were many who begged Gbagbo to turn off the water, electricity, fuel deliveries and the telephone system to cut off the North and return it to the stone age. The South picked up the bill through the extra charges imposed by the French monopolists. Gbagbo could turn all these services off with great ease and on the basis that the North wasn’t paying the government for these services; not for any political reason. The South was subsidising the North. Gbagbo refused to do so.
Without disarmament the administrators sent up to the North to register people to vote were afraid to do so. The rebel troops harassed them and the people seeking registration had no proof that they were, indeed, citizens. The rebels held open air rallies, surrounded by their soldiers, where people’s names were placed on the electoral roll, willy-nilly. It was a fraudulent exercise; particularly as they registered the Burkinabe, Liberian and Malian rebels as Ivory Coast citizens with the right to vote.
The French intervened and took on the responsibility of voter registration. In the long run up to preparing for the elections in the Ivory Coast the French imposed the company SAGEM, a subsidiary of the French company, Safran, as the vehicle to prepare, along with the indigenous INEC (electoral commission) a list of voters for the upcoming elections. This contract was initially to cost around 120 million Euros. This was to prepare an electoral register and the suitable voting cards. Not only did this take a very long time but it was flawed and unreliable.
The fundamental problem is that there was collapse of the political will to resolve these conflicts. Until March 2007 when the contesting parties met in Ouagadougou to sign the Ouagadougou Accord which formed the basis of the revised political structure, the North and the South were at least demonstrating that they had a point of view. After Ouagadougou the conflict of ideas and political initiatives were subsumed in jockeying for advantage in an election that was constantly postponed.
The result was delay and dissatisfaction. They had a government, made up of a mixed cabinet formed from mongrel and traitorous parties, totally incapable of uniting on any coherent economic, social or political policy. There was an army of mixed rebels and loyalists who did not take orders from a central command; further enfeebled by constant stories of plots and coups. The New Force warlords remained unhappy with Soro (their commander) and they threatened to kill him regularly.
The only people who were happy with this were the French. They had succeeded in restoring their neo-colonial hold over the country. Their businesses had returned in force to the Ivory Coast and controlled over 65 percent of all its commerce. The United Nations had agreed to pay for most of the peacekeeping troops, including the French peacekeepers. The nations of the European Community were helping subsidise the ‘identification’ process which put millions of Euros into the hands of a French company... The Ivoirians of both the North and the South were impotent and made do with competing for the best seats on the Ivoirian Titanic.
On the fiftieth anniversary of its independence, the politicians of the Ivory Coast announced that the oft-postponed national elections would take place on October 31, 2010. Unfortunately, for the large bulk of the Ivoirian population this election would be a cruel joke. Elections are meant to resolve problems; to clarify the political power issues; to charge political victors and parties with the responsibilities for the programs they campaigned for during the election. In this election the parties did not have programs; half the country was occupied by a piratical rabble of failed soldiers; no disarmament of the rebels had effectively taken place; no legitimacy was ascribed to the voting rolls or the electoral process; the occupying French forces and their UN supporters dominated the security of the country; and the aged and fading political party leaders wallowed in the mud of indecision. It was a shambles. Although Gbagbo had a lead in the ballot there was a need for a runoff between Gbagbo and Ouattara. The runoff ballot was held amidst major fraud in polling places in the North, intimidation of voters by rebel soldiers, and incompetent mathematics in evaluating the results.
As the results came in from around the country it was clear to the poll observers that Gbagbo maintained a lead over Ouattara. Near the end of the counting of the ballots the Ouattara team announced that Ouattara was the winner. His victory was announced at Ouattara’s campaign headquarters by his campaign manager. This had no legal effect or legitimacy but the international community began to trumpet Ouattara’s purported victory. The actual ballots cast were collected by the Electoral Commission and delivered to the Constitutional Court; the legal body established to pronounce on the validity of an election under the Constitution. The French, buoyed by their successful recent intervention in Guinea where they managed to advance their candidate, Alpha Conde, to the presidency, were sure that their manipulation of the voters’ roll and their protection of the Northern rebel leadership would give them an unassailable lead in the runoff election. However, the blatant vote-rigging in several Northern constituencies (where more people voted than were on the electoral roll) and where armed rebel troops surrounded the polling stations making sure that voters voted ‘correctly’ were so blatant that a real count could not be made in the requisite period.
The Constitutional Court examined the situation and the voting procedures and declared that President Gbagbo was re-elected. This was in opposition to the Ouattara electoral commission which declared their man as the winner.
At that point the French, the U.N. and their hangers-on (the European Union and Hillary Clinton) said that Gbagbo should withdraw from office despite his victory. They made an effort to persuade the ECOWAS (Union of West African States) to use violence against the civilian population in the Ivory Coast. The French were determined, as ever, to persuade others to fight their battles for them if bullying on their own wouldn't work. The Ghanaians, South Africans, Zimbabweans and others demanded that the Constitutional Court be heard and its verdict allowed, but the Federation of Mendicants, Beggars, Buffoons and Imbeciles which made up the vast African dependencies of Francafrique, won the day in ECOWAS.
This stand-off prevailed for a month or so with Ouattara and his men holed up in the Hotel Golf in Abidjan, protected by the French Army and the UN peacekeepers. Violence began to break out in the countryside, in the West, where rabid bands of rebels joined up with the Dozos in a program of mass slaughter and genocide. Thousands were killed, injured, raped and driven from their homes as the Northerners, supported by the French and UN troops were let loose on civilian villages. Fighting broke out as well in Abidjan.
The UN hired three Mi-24 helicopter gunships from the Ukraine. They were acquired by the United Nations peacekeepers and were stored in Bouake, in the North. This was the rebel’s headquarters. In an order issued to the UN forces in the Ivory Coast on 27 February 2011 Brigadier General Benjamin Freeman Kusi, the Chief in Command of the ONUCI (UN peacekeepers) reported the news of the arrival of the Mi-24 helicopters . With no sense of irony he wrote: ‘Mission: To temporarily reinforce the capacity of action of ONUCI we have deployed in Ivory Coast 3 x MI-24 combat helicopters which will make it possible for the UN Force to maintain peace and safety in the country. It will be initially a defensive and dissuasive force. The unit will operate especially on the Bouaké-Yamoussoukro-Abidjan axes but with an operational capacity on the whole of the national territory.’ These helicopters were used almost exclusively against the civilian population of the Ivory Coast, standing off about two miles from their targets and shooting indiscriminately at their targets; killing and wounding thousands. French helicopters and tanks joined them in this barrage of civilian areas, killing many more. After a fierce resistance the UN and French helicopters dropped heavy ordinance at the Presidential residence. French Special Forces entered the President’s home and captured the leadership gathered there. The French soldiers then turned their prisoners over to the Ouattara forces.
Many of those captured were molested, beaten and abused on the spot. Others were taken away to be tortured by the rebels. The President and his wife were hurried out of Abidjan to prisons in the North to stop any attempts at rescue. Gbagbo was later turned over to the International Criminal Court for trial. His wife remains in jail in the North. Many of the loyalist soldiers and police fled into Ghana and Liberia, seeking sanctuary. Ouattara declared himself president and the rebels all took up jobs in the new administration.
The involvement of the UN forces in these massacres is the direct responsibility of Ban Ki Moon. There was no authorisation by the UN Security Council for this policy or violence and extermination. There was an international ban on the provision of arms to the country passed by the UN. The green light to shoot at unarmed civilians was given on the 26th of February 2011 by Ban Ki-Moon’s henchman and UN fixer, Choi, who was named the UN representative in the Ivory Coast. In a press interview given by the UN soldiers in Abidjan at the Hotel Sebroko, they announced that they had been given a clear order by Jin Choi to open fire on anyone who stood in the way of UN operations on the ground in the Ivory Coast. When asked further whether this meant unarmed civilians Choi answered ‘shoot anyone who will interfere in the exercise of your duties, the Boss (BAN KI-MOON) gave us the go-ahead; nothing would happen’. (TWN radio 26/2/11).
The involvement of the UN in genocide is not unprecedented but at least ought to be subject to scrutiny. The immediate result of Choi’s order occurred the next day in Daloa, the third biggest town. There, a police officer, the son of Martin GROGUHET former PDCI Deputy Mayor of DALOA, was shot to death with a bullet in the back while he was leaving UNOCI headquarter after freeing three Young Patriots taken hostage by those soldiers following a peaceful negotiation. There was no appeal. No prosecution. Across the Ivory Coast the rebels, who have been re-armed by the UN with heavy weapons, attacked the FANCI and FDS (government forces). When they responded the rebels (usually dressed in UN uniforms) used the ‘kill order’ issued by Choi to use their heavy weapons against civilian populations. .The UN helicopters were used to blow up a supermarket in Cocody.
Where else but at the largest unsupervised asylum for sociopaths in Turtle Bay does this make any sense? Who authorised a shoot to kill policy to the UN troops? The rebels were supposed to have been disarmed. Indeed this was part of every treaty and agreement they signed. Why did the UN added to their weapons with RPGs, mines, tanks and then helicopters in spite of its own embargo on arms deliveries? What kind of lunacy is this when the UN debates sanctions against Libya in the morning for doing exactly what the UN itself is agreeing to do against the Ivory Coast in its afternoon session?
The fault lies at the top; the Secretary-General. He is not only incompetent and ignorant but a moral imbecile who has brought the UN into disgrace. In a speech during the International Defense Dialogue (March 22-25, 2012) in Jakarta, Indonesia, Ban Ki-Moon admitted that the success of the peacekeeping mission in Côte d'Ivoire could not have been possible without Ukrainian peacekeepers., ‘...we might not have prevailed without the contribution of one country: Ukraine, which lent us three combat military helicopters at the critical moment’. Thirty-eight Ukrainian peacekeepers from the 56th separate helicopter squadron of Ukrainian Armed Forces, serving as part of the United Nations Organization's mission in Liberia, participated in operation to maintain security during the runoff presidential elections in Cote d'Ivoire in December 2011. On January 19, 2011 the UN Security Council adopted the Resolution 1967 to strengthen its peacekeeping mission in Côte d'Ivoire. At that time Ukraine received both an official note from the UN Secretariat soliciting assistance and personal request from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to support the UN peacekeeping force in the region. Ban Ki Moon added his personal note which empowered the Ukrainians to expand their role beyond defensive.
Now Ban Ki Moon has announced he has asked the United Nations for drones to monitor its border the Ivory Coast border with Liberia. The country's UN envoy believes drones are needed to make up for the expected decline in the UN's personnel presence. He has already arranged for this in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to help monitor its borders with Rwanda and Uganda. Western Ivory Coast has recently seen raids by supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo, ousted in 2011's war.
Indeed there has been a lot of unrest in the West. There, having been assaulted, murdered and beaten by the Ouattara forces and the Dozos many farmers from the rich cocoa growing region have been driven from their farms; some seeking sanctuary among their ethnic relatives across the Liberian border and some gathered in refugee camps. Their former farm labourers, under the generic term ‘Mossi’ (immigrants from Burkina Faso and Mali) have taken over these farms and have claimed them for their own. Ouattara has just declared that these imported Burkinabe farm workers are now Ivoirians by decree (which is the way he became Ivoirian) and have title to the lands they have seized from their former employers who have tilled these fields for centuries. Seizing the patrimony of farmers is a certain way to provoke unrest.
Today the Ivory Coast is once again a French colony in fact, if not in name. Ouattara has no political base except for the French and is in constant fear for his life. He spends his entire time travelling because he is afraid that his rebel friends will assassinate him. The warlords, Vetcho and Ouattao, are still busy with the illegal trade in diamonds with their partner Campaore. With the death of IB Coulibaly Soro is a bit safer but still nervous. The country is in decline and Ouattara has just announced, like Petain, that he is ready to rule by decree.
In short, despite the thousands of the dead, the displacement of thousands more, there is no safety, justice or progress in the country. Two recent reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International spell this out in detail. There is ‘victor’s justice’ in operation with hundreds of Gbagbo and FPI supporters still incarcerated across the country. The FPI (the Ivorian Popular Front) still have nearly 670 supporters detained two years after the arrest of its leader, Laurent Gbagbo, transferred on 30 November 2011 at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. According to Amnesty International (February 26, 2013), the Ivorian Human Rights League (April 3) and Human Rights Watch (April 4).
They identify 668 as of 29 March 2013) civilian and military personnel incarcerated in a dozen prisons from Abidjan to Korhogo, passing by Bouna, Dimbokro, Boundiali, Man, Seguela, Katiola, Toumodi and Odienné. The main prison, MACA, holds only 514 of them. Most of them are being prosecuted for ‘violation of the security of the State’, ‘breaching national defence’, ‘genocide’, ‘disturbance to public order’ in relation to the second round of the controversial presidential election in November 2010.
Some others have regained their freedom. Most of the leaders remain in prison or house arrest. Former Ministers Geneviève Bro-Grebe and Abou Drahamane Sangaré, as well as the former Chief of Cabinet of Gbagbo, Narcisse Kuo Téa, are imprisoned in Katiola, in the centre of the country. Former Prime Minister Pascal Affi Nguessan, in Bouna, near the border with Ghana, along with the son of the former president, Michel Gbagbo, and former Minister Moïse Lida Kouassi, extradited in June 2012 of Togo. The former Governor of the Central Bank of the States of l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEEAO), Philippe Henri Dacoury Tabley, is held at Boundiali, and former first lady of Côte d'Ivoire, Simone Ehivet-Gbagbo, is incarcerated at Odienné, Northwest. Charles Blé Goudé is being kept at the DST headquarters in Abidjan
None of the criminals, rapists, thieves, bandits and murderers of Ouattarra’s side have been arrested despite everyone’s knowledge of their crimes. This is a very strange form of justice. The French prosper. In fact they have claimed full compensation for the property that was damaged in the riots after they shot down the innocents at the Hotel Ivoire plus a doubling of the fee to recompense them for lost business.
However, there is a rising unrest in the country as the enormity of the duration of the rape of the country continues. Having a sham municipal election is no cure. France is now at its weakest worldwide. Its economy is in tatters; its armies overstretched in Mali and the CAR; it military capacity grossly reduced. There was never a time when they were more vulnerable and bereft of money, cohesion and international support. This seems a good time to consider how this weakness can be turned towards the liberation of the Ivory Coast and the severing of the French colonial bonds once and for all.
There are spirits haunting the land; the spirits of the dead, tortured and missing; and the spirits of the ancestors whispering that the land they farmed, built their families in and in which they are buried should not be allowed to be taken by strangers. Perhaps this is a good time.
* Dr. Gary K. Busch is an international trade unionist, an academic, a businessman and a political affairs and business consultant for 40 years.
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