Monday saw an end to Cote d’Ivoire’s post-election crisis that had lasted for more than four months.
The arrest of Laurent Gbagbo at his residence by the Cote d’Ivoire Republican Forces (FRCI) marked the conclusion of the dispute over the country’s leadership.
Gbagbo had been declared the winner of the Nov. 28 presidential polls by the Constitutional Council, while his rival Alassane Ouattara was declared as the victor by the electoral commission and recognized by the international community.
Cote d’Ivoire’s electoral process began on Sept. 9, with the adoption of the final electoral list after a voter registration exercise that was marred by querrels between the country’s political actors.
After the postponement of the elections for six times, the first round of Cote d’Ivoire’s presidential elections were organized on Oct. 31.
Following the elections that were generally very peaceful, Gbagbo and Ouattara obtained their ticket for the second round with 38 percent and 32 percent of the tally respectively.
Contrary to the first round, the second was held on Nov. 28 within a tensed climate that was marked by violent incidences in the economic capital Abidjan and deadly clashes in the western parts of the country.
On Dec. 2, the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) finally declared the results after several delays orchestrated by Gbagbo’s camp, which accused the rival camp of electoral malpractices.
Ouattara was eventually declared by CEI as the winner of the elections with 54.1 percent of the vote against 45.9 percent for Gbagbo.
“The second round of the presidential polls were generally democratic and acceptable,” said the special representative of the UN secretary general in Cote d’Ivoire, Young Jin-choi, certifying the results in conformity to the mission’s mandate.
But they were rejected by the Constitutional Council which is presided over by Paul Yao N’Dre, a close confidant of Gbagbo.
He therefore decided to cancel the results that were termed as “fraudulent” in the northern and central regions which majorly supported Ouattara.
N’Dre announced another final tally which gave Gbagbo the “victory” of 51.45 percent against Ouattara’s 48.55 percent.
Cote d’Ivoire’s presidential elections which had been termed as the only way of ensuring peace is restored in the country after eight years of a political conflict, ended up being a political imbroglio.
The country ended up with two presidents after each of the two candidates was declared as the winner and they all organized separate swearing in ceremonies.
The country also ended up having two governments, Gbagbo’s government led by prime minister Ake N’Gbo and Ouattara’s government led by Guillaume Soro, the ex-rebel chief whose government was based at the Hotel du Golf.
Cote d’Ivoire, a country with enormous economic potential and the West African shining star was dragged into deep crisis.
In the stand-off that ensued after the disputed presidential polls, no side wanted to give up power.
“I am acting according to the constitution. I am the president who was declared by the constitutional council, the only institution with the mandate to announce the final electoral results. I am therefore Cote d’Ivoire’s legitimate president,” Gbagbo insisted whenever he met various groups in the country.
“I am the president-elect who was declared as the winner by the Independent Electoral Commission and recognized by the UN. The accord which we all signed provided that the results will have to be certified by the special representative of the UN secretary general and therefore no one will steal my victory. I am the president of Cote d’Ivoire,” affirmed on his part by Alassane Ouattara.
UNSUCCESSFUL MEDIATION EFFORTS
Due to the disagreements over the poll results, there were numerous mediation efforts to try and resolve the crisis which was escalating.
First there were internal mediation efforts led by religious leaders and traditional chiefs.
Religious leaders organized to meet the two protagonists in the crisis. They also met with the president of the constitutional council whose announcement of the resaults aggravated the situation.
The Cote d’Ivoire traditional rulers ended their mission without getting the expected results.
The international mediation teams then got involved with the first mission being from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU).
The AU later took the binding decision that required Gbagbo to hand-over power to Ouattara who won the presidential polls.
However, Gbagbo did not respect the recommendations of African regional organizations, declarations of the European Union (EU) and the resolutions of the UN Security Council.
After exhausting all channels of dialogue, other means had to be devised to remove him from power.
“We have given peace a chance. We have given diplomacy four months,” Ouattara’s prime minister Guillaume Soro declared when he was giving orders to the FRCI to launch an offensive across the entire country.
OUATTARA, MASTER OF THE GAME
Within no time, the FRCI managed to take control of almost all of the country’s towns.
Believing that their leader had exhausted all channels of dialogue, the FRCI launched on offensive on Abidjan on March 31. They especially targeted Gbagbo’s residence so that they can dislodge him from power and install Ouattara.
However, the outgoing president whose soldiers had requested for a ceasefire to allow for negotiations, decided to choose the path of resistance while being defended by his special forces who at one time managed to push away pro-Ouattara forces from his residence.
The final assault on the presidential residence which took place on April 11 was very decisive and it got the aerial support of UN and French Licorne forces. The aerial attacks enabled the FRCI to penetrate to Gbagbo’s residence and capture Gbagbo, his wife and a number of his close confidants.
Ouattara, the master of the game, went ahead to deliver a televized address to the nation on Monday, calling on his fellow citizens to be calm and exercise restraint.
He asked them to forgive each other and embark on national reconciliation which is essential for the country’s development.