Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ECOWAS Communique Was Calibrated To Lead Us To A Senseless War!

...and those responsible for this must not be allowed to get away with it!

Feature Article, by Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.

On the Thursday, 13 Jan 2011, I read to my horror, the news that a senior officer in the US Africa Command was already moving from country-to-country in West Africa "to officially find out whether or not [they] would commit troops to Cote d’Ivoire, should the need arise", and perhaps, to find out how many troops they would be contributing in order to facilitate the preparations for the war on La Côte d'Ivoire. I made that deduction when I read in the Daily Graphic, that a "Major-General Hagg was in the country to officially find out whether or not Ghana would commit troops to Cote d’Ivoire, should the need arise." In other words, if Gbagbo refuses to go. (See:  "GAF Won't Commit Troops To Cote d'Ivoire", by Michael Donkor - Daily Graphic, Thu, 13 Jan 2011. I have been led to suppose that the Daily Graphic was actually referring to Major General David R. Hogg, "the Commanding General of United States Army Africa (USARAF).[1] In his current assignment, Major General Hogg is the senior U.S. Army officer in Italy and commands the Army Component to United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM)". Source: from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Then on 24 January 2011, I also read that the Nigerian "Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, has urged the United Nations to sanction the use of force to remove embattled President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d'Ivoire over his refusal to quit power after his political rival Allasane Ouattara was accepted by the international community as the country's president." (See: Côte d'Ivoire: Ajumogobia Seeks UN Resolution Against Gbagbo, by Paul Ohia,, 24 January 2011. With Gbagbo showing no sign of respecting what he calls "an international conspiracy led by France and USA", the scene was set for a major confrontation, even before West Africans have had the time to apprise themselves of just what is going on!

In a BBC news story by Mark Doyle BBC News, Abidjan,
"No rush to military intervention in Ivory Coast", he writes:
"West African nations, usually led by regional giant Nigeria, have mounted military interventions under the banner of "Ecomog" (Economic Community Monitoring Group) before. But they have always been in much smaller countries than Ivory Coast where the governments in place wanted the foreign soldiers to come.
In Sierra Leone and Liberia, for example, Ecomog troops arrived when the governments there were besieged by rebels - but, crucially, still in control of the main ports and airports so the outside forces could arrive and take up positions relatively easily.
In Ivory Coast, the man still in charge of the army, the main airports and the seaports, Laurent Gbagbo, is violently opposed to any intervention. And it seems most unlikely Ecomog would try to force its way in. The armies of the region don't have enough of the equipment or military intelligence necessary for such a "hot assault".
It is not that the skills of ordinary West African soldiers are in question. Many of the infantry (or ground troops) from Ghana, for example, or Senegal, are trained to world standards. But the kind of operation necessary to take control of a large country like Ivory Coast quickly would require sophisticated attack helicopters in big numbers, satellite tracking gear and highly mobile forces with state-of-the-art weapons systems."
Perhaps if we are looking for answers why it is not the French, but the Americans who are in charge, and why the French have taken a back-stage in the build-up to war, Mark Doyle also gave a very interesting answer:

"Most African countries also lack the special forces and on-the-ground military intelligence that would allow them to track and target the physical and personal centres of Mr Gbagbo's power base. In addition, Ecomog has only been successful in most of its operations when it has been supported by outside forces.The UN and Britain helped Ecomog in Sierra Leone, for example, and the United States assisted with training and equipment in Liberia.
The obvious candidate to help in Ivory Coast would be France, which has 900 highly trained soldiers based near Abidjan airport.The official role of these troops is to be the Rapid Reaction Force of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast.
However, if soldiers from the former colonial power France joined forces with anyone to take Ivory Coast by force it would be political dynamite.It would very likely cause an explosion of popular opposition in areas loyal to Mr Gbagbo and risk leading to the deaths of many thousands of people."
Reading between the lines, I suspected the first objective of the imperialist war-planners was to make the West Africans themselves own the initiative and not to show their hands first. It worked perfectly well, as Mr. Choi who helped in misleading ECOWAS would now turn around and urge the UN Security Council to listen to what ECOWAS is saying! As a West African, I do not feel very happy that I can say without any fear of contradiction that the Final Communique issued on the 24th of December, 2010 in Abuja after the Extraordinary Session of the Authority of the Heads of state and Governments of the ECOWAS on La Côte d'Ivoire, was carefully calibrated and deviously crafted to lead the people of West Africa into an inevitable and completely senseless war against La Côte d'Ivoire, which would have negatively impacted on the entire region and greatly benefited France, the former colonial power and the newly formed US Africa Command also known as USAfriCom which was hoping to make itself "useful" and overcome the initial African resistance that greeted its attempts at penetration into the continent to secure our natural resources for the exclusive benefit of Western multinational corporations, particularly US Oil corporations.

This is so serious that there is an urgent need to name, shame and condemn those African merchants of death and mayhem behind the document, and those supporting it, and draw the appropriate lessons for the future. I intend to give a special focus on this. I might as well call that "The Satanic Verses of the ECOWAS" because they reflect the views of the former colonial ruler and its imperialist allies than those of Africa's independent observers at the elections. The greatest mischief in the document is the fact that it was designed to ensure an automatic deadlock in negotiations and make war the only viable and inevitable option.

Whilst ECOWAS does not provide any evidence to back their position, their communique itself acknowledges that they heavily depended upon Mr. Choi Young-jin, who briefed them. Interestingly enough, Mr. Choi claims he depended on his own monitors to arrive at his conclusions, even though ECOWAS countries also sent monitors who contradict the claims by Mr. Choi. Why could ECOWAS not depend upon their own monitors? The interesting thing about the ECOWAS Communique is its attempt to pay lip-service to peaceful negotiations and dialogue. At a time everyone seemed to be saying, "dialogue first, and possible military intervention later", what the ECOWAS Communique did was just the opposite.

Referring to the Christmas season when they met as a "Season of peace", whilst at the same time, firmly ruling out any form of meaningful negotiations leading to a peaceful settlement, they failed to offer the olive branch for peace to prevail beyond a lame call for the "peaceful exit" of President Gbagbo!
The essential import of the ECOWAS communique was to set the time to tick inexorably towards war with La Côte d'Ivoire, a war effort deftly choreographed by France and the USA, using the representative of the Secretary-General of the UN to La Côte d'Ivoire, Mr. Choi Young-jin. 

In "Kwesi Pratt to NPP: Do You Support War or You Don't", Feature Article, Thu, 27 Jan 2011, Mr Pratt, a key architect in the construction of the democratic dispensation in Ghana, is certainly not amused: "Right now, in front of me is a statement which was issued by the President of Angola, when he met the Diplomatic Community in Luanda. President of Angola, a key member of the African Union! Now listen to what he said:

"His Excellency, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, The President Of Angola, Says:
'We express however, our concern when military solutions are proposed to resolve crisis such as the one in Côte d'Ivoire. Ignoring the rules of international and domestic law and sometimes, the very evidence presented by the facts. The facts specifically tell us the following;

One: The president of the Electoral Commission released the results of the second round of the presidential election, when it was out of his competence to do so, since his time, for purposes defined by law, was expired and since the issue had been transferred to the Constitutional Council for due consideration and treatment.

Two: The United Nations representative in Côte d'Ivoire in a hastened move, certified and announced those results when the relevant UN resolution states that the certification should focus on election results validated by the Constitutional Council, which had not yet made a pronouncement.

Three: The declaration by the United Nations representative misled the whole international community.

The declaration by the United Nations representative misled the whole international community, since the Constitutional Council had not validated the provisional results released by the president of the Electoral Commission as a result of having accepted objections and complaints of serious irregularities and fraud which undermined these results.

Four: The Constitutional Council is in fact the only organ with the legal competence to validate and publish the final results of the elections.

Five: Under the law, The Constitutional Council should recommend the holding of new elections within 45 days, but it did not proceed in this manner and instead reported results that attributed the victory to another candidate.

Considering the above facts, it is difficult for Angola to accept that there is an elected president in La Côte d'Ivoire.

'We believe however, that there is a constitutional president, the current president of the republic, who happens to be Laurent Gbagbo, who must remain in power until the new election as established by the electoral law of that country. The greatest difficulty now is that the 45 days are not enough to create a favourable climate for elections, and the current crisis complicates the matter further.

We are therefore of the opinion that any military intervention in the particular case of Côte d'Ivoire would have an adverse effect, with serious consequences beyond its borders.

The Angolan Executive supports and encourages dialogue and negotiations to overcome the crisis in this brother country, and believes that by demonstrating political will, wisdom, and realism, it is possible to find a solution that focuses, first and foremost, on the legitimate interests of all the people of Côte d'Ivoire.

Through the competent institutions of the African Union, Africa must prove its maturity, experience, and ability to solve problems on our own continent, even the most complex and delicate, in lieu of waiting for inadequate solutions imposed from outside.'

"Now Let Us Come Back To The Facts.
"Now What Are The Essential Points That The Angolans Are Making? One, that Ouattara did not win the elections; that the election results were so fraught with violence and so on, that you cannot use that election result to declare a President of La Côte d'Ivoire. What the Angolans are telling all of us Africans, is that, look, we should be guided by law and constitutionality. And that you cannot have democracy outside the ambit of the constitution. What is democracy if you ignore what is provided for in the constitution? What is democracy if it is in violation of the law of the country and so on? This is the point that the Angolans are making.

I have taken the trouble to look at the election results. And the paper that I edit, has taken the trouble to publish the election results. The question I am posing to all these political parties in Ghana, and all of these African leaders, and ECOWAS leaders, is simply this: which one of them would accept election results such as the one which has been released in La Côte d'Ivoire?

You know, some of the facts I have repeated so many times over, I don't know why they are not sinking! You know, take the Vallée du Bandama region in La Côte d'Ivoire, the Electoral Commission comes up with votes, you understand, votes, for Ouattara, you add those votes, they come to one hundred and forty nine thousand votes, and yet the declaration of results gives Ouatarra two hundred and forty four thousand votes! Who would accept this? You go to some other constituencies, turn-out, eh? Is two hundred and fifty per cent of registered voters! Two hundred and fifty per cent of registered voters! Who would accept those results?

Indeed, I asked my colleague and friend, Comrade Kwesi Adu, to do an analysis of the election results, because he does these things. He was an election observer in Guinea and so on, so he is so good at it. And I asked him to do an analysis. In one constituency, Gbagbo won one hundred and eighty per cent of all the registered voters. In the same constituency Ouattara won one hundred and something per cent of registered voters. How do you accept these results? How can you say that these results represent the will of the Ivorian people? By what magic?

So, either people are deliberately lying, or they don't know the facts, or they are being insincere in the discussion of the Ivorian crisis. You understand? Now you put that aside.

What Does The Law Of La Côte d'Ivoire Say?
The law of La Côte d'Ivoire says it very clearly that the Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire declares provisional results. That those provisional results ought to be validated by the Constitutional Council. That is what the law says. So, the Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire, does not declare who a winner is. It only declares provisional results. It is only the Constitutional Council of La Côte d'Ivoire, which can declare a winner in an election.

Then you have some apologists of Ouattara, they come up and they say, look, the legal position is that that provision of La Côte d'Ivoire Constitution was suspended because an agreement was reached under UN auspices! My brother, this is a joke! Is anybody telling me that the UN, ECOWAS, AU, or any International organisation, can amend the constitution of a country, without reference to the people of that country? Does it make sense?

And yet, we are pushing this position that by virtue of an agreement which was reached under UN auspices, parts of the Ivorian constitution are no longer valid. Let us assume that even is true, eh? Let us assume that that position is true. Now, if you assume that that position is true, it would have meant that in the first round of elections, those provisions in the constitution of La Côte d'Ivoire Constitution, still remained suspended.

And yet in the first round of the elections, the Electoral Commission declared Provisional Results, they were validated by the Constitutional Council, before the UN endorsed them. Why didn't we apply the same formula which was applied in the first round in the second round of the election? Does it make sense? You understand what I am saying very clearly?

Now, there is also this problem. A lot of people assume that the Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire, is the same as the Electoral Commission in Ghana Ghana. It is not true! The Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire, is made up of thirty two members. Those thirty two members, represent political parties, to the extent that the government of La Côte d'Ivoire has only five representatives on a thirty two-member Electoral Commission.

The Opposition has twenty seven members of the Electoral Commission. If you want to compare the Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire with the Electoral Commission of Ghana, the equivalent of the Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire is the IPAC [Inter-Party Advisory Committee] in Ghana! You understand, it is the IPAC in Ghana.

So when people say, that the "Independent Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire", what do they mean? When they say, that the "Independent Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire", what do they mean? When twenty seven members of that thirty-two member Commission is from the Opposition? And indeed, when the President of the Electoral Commission is from the Opposition and his deputy is also from the Opposition?

In any case, people should stop to consider the circumstances under which the election results were declared. The election result was not declared by the Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire. It was declared by one member of the Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire, in Hôtel du Golf, which is the Headquarters of the Opposition. He was accompanied to do that declaration by the Ambassador of France and the Ambassador of the United States of America.

Indeed, the declaration was not done before the Ivorian media. The declaration was done, exclusively before the French media. No Ivorian journalist was present when the declaration was made. And it was made in the Headquarters of the Opposition.

Now, all our friends from the NPP, NDC and so on, which one of them would have accepted election results, declared solely by Afari-Gyan? Even Afari-Gyan has the right, the Electoral Commission of Ghana has the right to declare final results! Now let us just imagine a situation in which Afari-Gyan, alone, without other members of his Commission, accompanied by the French Ambassador, the US Ambassador, goes to the NDC Headquarters to announce results, what would happen?

Now the President of the Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire was interviewed on Radio France International, and he was asked this question: "How come that you went and declared the results in the Headquarters of the Opposition?" His first answer was that, look, the conditions in the Electoral Commission offices were not conducive to him announcing the election results there.

The questioner then said, "But did you know you were were announcing the results in the headquarters of the Opposition?" He says, "No, I don't know"! Then he said, "But everybody in La Côte d'Ivoire knows that that is the headquarters of the Opposition?" Then he says "I am not supposed to know what everybody knows"! Suhuyini, can you believe this? He says he is not supposed to know what everybody else knows in La Côte d'Ivoire! You understand? You put that aside.

Even if you accept that the Electoral Commission of La Côte d'Ivoire is an independent Commission, and you accept that the final constitutional authority for declaring results is the Constitutional Council, what you do have in La Côte d'Ivoire is a situation where the electoral Commission has declared one result, and the Constitutional Council has declared another result. What you do have is a political crisis! It is an issue of the legitimacy of two state institutions.

Do You Resolve That By Going To War?
Do you resolve this situation by declaring that Ouattara is the Head of State? Does it make sense? My goodness! I don't know what is happening to all of us! African leaders! West African leaders! UN, and so on! What is happening to us?

So, we have a political crisis resulting from the contestations over electoral results. Is La Côte d'Ivoire the only country in the world to have this situation? We just had elections in Belarus. You remember? The election was heavily disputed. The Opposition was on the streets. There was mayhem. The Head of State's reaction was to was to arrest two hundred members of the Opposition, including his opponents, and lock them up. They are still in jail. That is in the heart of Europe! Europe is quiet! Nobody is talking about military intervention! But when it comes to West Africa, they say our leaders should gather troops and go and kill themselves! We should send our soldiers to go and die! Why are they not sending their soldiers to go and die in Belarus?

Look at what has happened with the Egyptian elections! Who is talking about military intervention there? Who is talking about sanctions against Hussein Mubarak? They are not doing so because of vested interests in Egypt! Because of their support for the Zionist state of Israel, and the key role that Egypt is playing in that area! So they are acting clearly from a self-interest point of view! And we say, that our self-interest does not matter! So when the President says "Dzi wo fie asem", then there is a problem! But all of them, every one of them, France, the United States, Britain, all of them they are "dzing their fie asem"! All of them!

None of them is doing what they are doing because they love West Africans more than themselves! They are doing it because of their interests in the strategic resources of La Côte d'Ivoire! They are doing it because they don't want the example of Gbagbo to spread through the African continent. That is what they are doing! And that is why it is important for us to wake up to that reality and to begin to raise the fundamental questions of law and constitutionality. To begin to raise the moral question and so on."

Could our leaders have been more stupid than this?
The ECOWAS Communique issued by the Heads of state and Governments of the ECOWAS on the 24th of December, 2010 in Abuja, uncritically accepted hook, line, and sinker, the misleading conclusions of the UN Representative in La Côte d'Ivoire, who was there to brief them on the developments, and there is no indication that they paid any attention to what the African monitors had to say. The Communique did more to convey a wish-list of the Alassane Ouattara camp, rather than any serious undertaking to explore the route of a meaningful dialogue towards peace. Could our leaders have been more stupid than this?

With the exception of President Atta-Mills of Ghana, and President Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia who expressed caution and engagement, three heads of state, which included President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, in whose country the winner of an election has always been who cheated the most! Blaise Campoore of Burkina Faso, who came to power through a bloody coup d'etat in 1987, in which the then President of Burkina Faso, the late Thomas Sankara, was cut into two with a machine gun and buried in a mass grave, wanted to impose "democracy" on La Côte d'Ivoire!

Even before this awful communique was issued, the Socialist Forum of Ghana, in a statement issued and signed on behalf of the Convenor, by Mr. Kwesi Pratt, Jnr., had laid bare the complexities of the situation that buttressed the President's call for caution and engagement. I take the liberty to quote this very extensively and later ask the reader to compare the wisdom in this with the absolute non-wisdom found in the ECOWAS Communique:

"The Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG) calls urgently on pan-African nationalists to challenge the dominant international narrative regarding the crisis in la Cote d'Ivoire (CI). Actions based on that narrative, driven as it is by deliberate misinformation, shallow analysis and chauvinism will push the country into prolonged conflict and its working people into even deeper misery. It will also ultimately undermine the credibility and efficacy of our regional institutions like ECOWAS and the AU. Progressives owe it to Africa and to the people of la Cote d'Ivoire to offer a factual, scientific, historical and constructive perspective on this crisis.Pan-African activists must challenge the false assertion that Alassane Ouattara won the November elections. This does not mean support for the opposing claims of Laurent Gbagbo.

"In Cote La d'Ivoire several factors allowed those identity divisions to take on a life of their own in the 21st century. These included the growing challenge to French neo-colonial hegemony in West Africa from the US and from certain regional interests. These also included the collapse of local elite coherence following the death of President Houphouet-Boigny. As neo-colonial power fragmented in the mid-2000s identity politics degenerated to militarisation and partition and a massive increase in the woes of the Ivoirian people. Obviously, the imposition by the international community of Alassane Ouattara on such a deeply divided society will not solve the La Cote d'Ivoire crisis. What it will do is however is advance the overall cause of neo-colonialism and set the scene for further conflict between France and the US and allied regional powers for control over La Cote d'Ivoire and regional resources in particular oil and gas.

The Socialist Forum of Ghana does not in any way seek to downplay the difficulties of making real progress in La Cote d'Ivoire. Nor do we pretend to have all the answers. We are however clear that the pseudo-answers being offered by the international community will lead only to disaster. What we seek is a fresh discourse amongst Pan-African activists regarding the best alternatives for La Cote d'Ivoire and the role of Africa in realising these. As part of that discourse the Socialist Forum of Ghana would like to put forward some ideas about an African platform for support to CI. We think Africa should commit diplomatic and other resources to demand:

a.  respect for Ivoirian sovereignty and the exclusion of neo-colonial political and military interference and specifically the withdrawal of all French troops from Ivoirian soil;

b.  phased disarmament of all irregular forces and unification of the entire country under an interim government preferably composed of national civil society leaders and statesmen willing to forgo participation in elections for at least 10 years;

c.  a popular national political process that seeks to develop Ivoirian solutions including a democratic and inclusive national constitution, social reconciliation and stronger national institutions; and

d.  a credible election system and fresh elections within a reasonable period. We have no illusions that this can be achieved overnight or without a major commitment of scarce financial resources.

We are clear however that the ultimate political, human and financial costs to Ivoirians and Africans of a complete breakdown in Ivoirian society or a return to conflict will be much higher than the costs of a protracted peace project."

What Exactly Did the ECOWAS  leaders Say?

Now kindly compare the SFG position with the ECOWAS position:

"7. They [The Heads of State and Government] reiterated their position of 7 December 2010, especially on the status of Mr. Alassane Ouattara as the legitimate President of Côte d’Ivoire, which is non-negotiable. They demanded the immediate and peaceful handover of power by Mr. Laurent Gbagbo to Mr. Alassane Ouattara, in accordance with the expressed wishes of the Ivorian people.

8.  The Heads of State and Government expressed their support for the travel ban, freeze on financial assets and all other forms of targeted sanctions imposed by regional institutions and the international community on the out-going President and his associates, and would support any future additional measures that may be taken in this direction.

9.  The Heads of State and Government regret the fact that the message sent by the ECOWAS Chairman on behalf of the Authority on 17 December 2010 has not been heeded by Mr. Gbagbo. In this season of peace, the Summit decided to make an ultimate gesture to Mr. Gbagbo by urging him to make a peaceful exit. In this regard, the Authority decided to dispatch a special high-level delegation to Côte d’Ivoire.

10. In the event that Mr. Gbagbo fails to heed this immutable demand of ECOWAS, the Community would be left with no alternative but to take other measures, including the use of legitimate force, to achieve the goals of the Ivorian people.

11.  Against the background of the parlous security situation, the Heads of State and Government hereby instruct the President of the ECOWAS Commission to convene without delay a meeting of the Committee of Chiefs of [Defense] Staff in order to plan future actions, including the provision of security along the Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia border, in the event that their message is not heeded."

There is enough food for thought for all West Africans and Africans in general! Tunisia has shown the way, Egypt is following suit and are holding His Excellency, Monsieur President Mubarak by the balls at the Tahrir square. How long has Monsieur Campoore been in power? Do they have an equivalent of a Tahrir Square in Ouagadougou? Why should Nigerians allow its current governing party to continue such a sloppy performance after their forth-coming elections? Why should Ghanaians allow the opposition NPP, and Akufo-Addo in particular, to even get near the seat of government after displaying such levels of incompetence and irresponsibility by attacking the President of Ghana for saying exactly what needed to be said at the time he said what he said which led to the African Union finally ruling out armed intervention?

See You At Tahrir Square!
We are getting rid of the imperialists and their local agents! This is the meaning of the winds of change currently blowing in the North of Africa. It is southwards bound. All the good people of West Africa must draw the appropriate lessons and act accordingly to their own consciences against these external threats to our peace and progress, and their local agents.

Forward Ever! Backwards Never!!!

Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro, a companion of the
  black  *   star !!!
Give me a follow and let's exchange views on what I call "a grammar of Pan-Africanism and its manners of articulation in an ever-changing world"!