Friday, December 24, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
This morning I woke up to wet heavy snow coating the branches and the street. On the internet I watched Ivorian television, the masquerade of Gbagbo being sworn in as president in the presidential palace in front of about two hundred people. Gbagbo himself looked serious, and when a noise came from outside, the audience members looked nervously over their shoulders at the door. On the road Gbagbo has taken, he will always have to look over his shoulder from now on, wondering who may burst in, how it may end. When the gold necklace was placed around his neck, he finally smiled and gave his supporters two thumbs up; his wife cheered enthusiastically from the front row. Of the 15 million Ivorians, these 200 people are the only ones who stand to benefit from his electoral coup.
Called friends on Saturday night. Do., in Abobo, said that Friday afternoon, when they heard that the Conseil Constitutional had named Gbagbo president, they ran straight home. They have not gone out since. They heard shots in the street Friday night and until about eleven on Saturday morning. It was quiet outside Saturday afternoon, but they were afraid to go out. “We have no news,” she said. “We have only the government television channel and they play the same speeches over and over.” I told her that the United Nations, the African Union, France, and Obama had all recognized Ouattara as the true president, that Soro had resigned to Ouattara and been reappointed by him, and the IMF had said they would not work with Gbagbo’s government.
“We didn’t know any of that,” she said. Even the United Nations FM station has been blocked. She had heard a rumor that Ouattara was inaugurated at the Golf Hotel.
I said that if they went to the cyber café, they could get the news on the Internet. “Yes, but it’s too dangerous to go out.” The little boys were playing soccer inside the apartment.
“How could they annul all those votes,” she said indignantly. “Korhogo, Bouaké, Ferké--it’s like we’re not part of the country!”
Her younger brother calls every day from the village to get news but she cannot call him back. Calls won’t go through to the north.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
As Billy Billy sings, “Changement, Bloquage!” We are stuck at bloquage.
Before the first round of this election, the International Crisis Group warned that of all the possible run-off scenarios, the riskiest would be Gbagbo-Ouattara. In Abidjan, in Korhogo, and even here in the Midwestern US, in the first snow of the season, Ivorians and all of us who care about Ivory Coast are holding our breath…
“Surreal,” said the anchor on France 24 before she played the video of what happened yesterday at the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI). As the spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission got ready to announce results in his mellifluous baritone, two pro-Gbagbo members of the commission stood up and protested the announcement. As the spokesman watched in disbelief and the cameras whirred, one grabbed the sheets and walked away with them, tearing them up as he went.
The deadline to announce results--midnight Wednesday--has passed. The French, the Americans, the EU, the UN--everyone is urging the immediate announcement of the results. Between the lines of diplomatic language, perhaps the real message is, "Man up, Gbagbo, and admit defeat!" His response was to extend the curfew until Monday morning.
Gbagbo’s party, the LMP, wants the votes from the north invalidated. The Carter Center, the European Union, and the African Union all had observers in the north and all have judged the election, although not ideal, sufficiently transparent. The representative of the UN concurs.
If you look at the numbers, it’s clear that unfortunate as the problematic incidents were, they could not have changed the outcome. The numbers are essentially the same as the first round, which everyone agrees went impeccably. In the Savanes region (departments of Korhogo, Boundiali, Ferkéssedougou, and Tengrela), Gbagbo received 19, 312 votes in the first round, 6.5% of the vote. In the second round, he received 21, 203 votes or 6.45% of the vote. His percentage went down slightly while Ouattara’s percentage rose from 85.9% to 93.5%. This makes sense because the percentage of invalidated ballots went down from 6.6% to 1.3%. Most of those votes (16,635), cast correctly in the second round, probably went to Ouattara. Ouattara also picked up the votes of those who voted in the first round for Bedié and the eleven other candidates. Nevertheless, despite the intimidation his party claims, Gbagbo gained 1891 votes in the second round.
The rebellion happened in large part because northerners resented being excluded from the political process. To invalidate their votes now would doom the peace process and take the country back to more years of division and instability.