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Côte d'Ivoire: A Solution to the Post-Electoral Crisis?

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011.

The post-electoral crisis across Cote d'Ivoire is dragging on since two opposing leaders, Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara both claim to have won a runoff vote on November 28, 2010. A sequence of unfortunate events [fr] have followed, and there seems to be no prospect of a viable solution.

Cote d'Ivoire has historically hovered halfway between fragile peace and open conflict. In 2007, an armed conflict between the government of President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel groups of Forces Nouvelles was stilled by Ouagadougou’s peace treaty, but it still took four more years for presidential elections to be held. Meanwhile the country endured a tenuous power sharing agreement.

Burning weapons: an initiative for disarmament in 2007 in Bouke, CI. UN photo/Basil Zoma on Flickr (CC-NC-ND)

The current post electoral crisis has caused a rise in social tension and violations of human rights. Meanwhile, the African Union's panel of five heads of state is taking its time to reach a concrete solution. Violence committed by “Young Patriots” supporting Gbagbo are picked up again and again on Twitter in eyewitness reports.

Jeanette Mallet

@jeanettemallet: #Gbagbo‘s Young “Patriots” Terrorize #Abidjan‘s Citizens #IvoryCoast #civ2010 http://ow.ly/48dFD via France24

The experience of Ivorians is mirrored on Twitter in numerous reactions to the massacre of seven women protesting in the city Abobo on March 3, apparently by Gbagbo's security forces. However, supporters of Gbagbo, following the lead of the military and state television, deny this and cast the blame on pro-Ouattara “Invisible Commandos”.

Two sides at odds

Claudus Kouadio relays a video by the state broadcaster RTI and raises suspicions of Ouattara supporters:

Claudus Kouadio

@ClaudusIvoire: #civ2010 Marche des femmes à Abobo : Des pro-Ouattara lourdement armés – Abidjan.net Vidéo http://t.co/LDxiuo9 via @abidjan_net

#civ2010 March of the women at Abobo: Some heavily armed pro-Ouattara supporters/militia – Abidjan.net Video http://t.col/Dxiuo9 via @abidjan net

He was rebuked immediately by Dignity Quest, another Ivorian who posted the link to the video showing the assassination of the women.

Dignity QUEST

@ivoryunite: @ClaudusIvoire marche des femmes d'Abobo, tu es tombé ds le piège de la RTI. Voici la vraie vidéo: http://bit.ly/eo4rEF #civ2010
@ClaudusIvoire March of the women of Abobo, you have fallen into the trap of the RTI. Here is the real video: http://bit.ly/eo4rEF #civ2010

In this climate of permanent tension between the two camps, the partisans of the two “presidents” do not forget the essential: to drive out the one who has lost the elections. Thus the supporters of Laurent Gbagbo are asking Ouattara to recognise his defeat. As Greg Parlour says:

Greg Parlour

@gregoryparlour: @tommymiles What if ADO admits that he lost elections, isn't that simple ? He lost that's all, we ivorians know that he lost !! #civ2010

Those who support Ouattara, from their side, ask that Laurent Gbagbo simply recognise that he was beaten by Ouattara Alassane in the polls. Ado Gerard K. responds to a supporter of Laurent Gbagbo on twitter:

Ado Gerard K.

@nightsnake1975: @mouayoro #civ2010 Et pkoi ne pas commencer a essayer de faire comprendre a GBAGBO qu'il a perdu les elections ?

@nightsnake1975: @mouayoro #civ2010 And why not start to try to make Gbagbo understand that it was him who lost the elections?

@Fresco68, another Ivorian on twitter who favors Ouattara Alassane directs questions at Laurent Gbagbo in the context of his position after his defeat.

ALERTE CHRONO

@Fresco68: #civ2010 Tu dis tu es fils d'élection. Battu aux élections, tu veux faire la guerre. Toi-même tu es qui maintenant ? On doit retenir quoi?

#civ2010 – You say you are born from the electoral process. Beaten in the elections, you want to make war. You yourself, who are you now? What are we supposed to hold on to?

A third option?

Rejecting the two camps supporting either one or the other of the presidents, one Ivorian blogger suggests a third solution: the departure of both Ouattara and Gbagbo and the arrival of a third man: Mamadou Koulibaly.

Koulibaly is currently the President of the National Assembly and vice president of the Ivorian Popular Front (Laurent Gbagbo’s Party). In a post entitled “And if we left the crisis by this door” on Le Blog de Yoro suggests:

Les médiations ont quasi échoué. Le Panel des Chefs est d’Etat est obligé de jouer les prolongations parce que le match est difficile. La fin semble infernale. Jamais en Côte d’Ivoire on n'avait atteint un tel niveau de violence. Jamais on n’avait été aussi divisé. JAMAIS ! Aujourd’hui, ce n’est plus le Nord contre le Sud, ni les musulmans contre les chrétiens, comme veulent le faire croire les charognards. La fissure est partout. Dans les bureaux, dans les communautés, dans les foyers chez les religieux. C’est grave !

The [conflict] mediation has almost certainly failed. The Panel of Heads of State is obliged to play extra time because the match is difficult! The end seems diabolical. Never in Ivory Coast’s history have we witnessed such a level of violence. Never have we been so divided. NEVER! Today, it is no longer a case of North verses South, nor of Muslims against Christians, as the vultures would have us believe. The fissure is everywhere: In the work place, within communities, in religious households. It’s serious!

Noting the deep divisions between the citizens and considering the numerous internet followers which each president has, this blogger cuts to the chase and suggests his solution:

Le débat aujourd’hui, n’est donc plus de savoir qui a gagné et qui a perdu. Mais comment on stoppe l’hémorragie. Comment on n’arrête tout ça ? Et nous pouvons choisir de sortir par le sang ou par le bon sens. Je pense pour ma part, qu’il faut un troisième homme. Et en le disant, je pense à Mamadou Koulibaly.

The debate today is no longer about knowing who won and who lost, but how to stop the haemorrhage. How do we put an end to all of that? And we can choose to exit by blood or by common sense. I think for my part, that there should be a third man. And in saying this, I think of Mamadou Koulibaly.

For Yoro, an economist originally from the north of the Ivory Coast, the solution could be to rally the nation and reunite the country in a transition over three years, implement reforms and in particular:

organiser des élections libres, justes et transparentes. Elections auxquelles il ne se présenterait pas, ni Laurent Gbagbo, ni Alassane Ouattara, ni Henri Konan Bédié, ni Guillaume Soro, ni Charles Blé Goudé.

Organise free elections – elections that are just and transparent. Elections where neither Laurent Gbagbo, Alassane Ouattara, Henri Konan Bédié, Guillaume Soro nor Charles Blé Goudé are allowed to run.

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011.

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