The Putrefying Ivorian Crisis - The Solution, Take It Or Rot

Sun, 3 Apr 2011 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

Since the Ivorian crisis reared its ugly face I have literally behaved like an ostrich; hoping that the problem will go away. Initially it was like a dripping sore that nobody wanted to look at. Then it turned into an opened sluice gate, and now it appears the dam is completely breached, which I can no longer continue to deny the existence of a perennial African problem that is too close for comfort. This cancerous African problem that keeps surfacing like the head of a Hydra is a time bomb that needs to be defused once and for all. There is an Akan proverb that likens a conflict to a rope, which states that resolutions do not come by severing the rope with a knife, but through negotiations. Meaning there is no conflict that is beyond the radar of solution.

The reason for writing this piece is not for analysing the genesis of the problem but the direction to take from here and now. Because it is now an open wound that is putrefying by the day, perhaps virulent and cancerous with the potential of spreading to other surrounding countries if not in terms of violence and human cost but the long term unimaginable economic damage that is going to wreak on the surrounding nations. This is why it has become imperative to add my voice to all those who have laboured before me.

Nobody anticipated that this was going to happen before the November 28th election, but it has. The question is what is the way forward? Clearly, in such trying times it is very easy to be pointing fingers to legitimise our own self righteousness. And get entrench in beliefs that were shaped before the 28th of November. It is very important to believe in something rather than nothing, and perhaps work tirelessly against compromise. However, in certain instances we do have to, especially in times of conflict resolution like the current Ivorian crisis. It does not help when we indulge in who is right and who is wrong. It is essential that we compromise and the three things that are needed now are solution, solution and solution.

The main characters in this conflict, Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo, are laden with unpleasant baggage of their own and I am not writing to say who is the lesser of the two evils. Obviously, the first casualty in such conflict is the truth and you can never genuinely figure it out no matter how you dig. Nevertheless, I am going to take a swipe at the international community for allowing it to fester. Most have stack themselves in single gear without any prospect of shifting to the changing circumstances. But we can’t afford to let this continue; it is dangerous and criminal. On the other hand, the African leaders cannot do it alone. They need the Europeans, the Chinese, the Americans and all countries that wield economic power for any action to bite. We shouldn’t look forward to any solution from within, because they are too busy disembowelling themselves and it needs to be imposed – short of bombing. They lost the legitimacy of resolving it themselves once refugees started pouring over their borders.

Nonetheless, it is an incredibly sticky situation that calls for a new start. I strongly believe that a fresh election is the only way forward. The winner of the so called 28th November election will not be happy about this, but this is the price he is got to pay for the interest of his country if he really loves the masses. After all, if he won it the last time there shouldn’t be any fear he will again. The international community will have to get the parties to agree to it with an iron clad promise to abide by its results. Conditions are that they will have to campaign with specific theme making their followers to know exactly what they are signing for and perhaps censor their language on the campaign trail. Again, the international community will have to sacrifice to supervise every polling station and account for every ballot box, irrespective of how intrusive that may be. However, this is my strange carrot and it will not work without a stick.

Every sanction in the book will have to be applied without limitations; from food to health if they do not agree to the terms on offer. This kind of international bully is quite acceptable by me. Readers might think of me as condescending and sitting on Mount Olympus itself and pontificating simple solutions to complex issues. But where are the complex solutions while people are dying and refugees pouring into neighbouring countries.

When the problem started I wanted to find out the root cause from an Ivorian friend here in London and he was of the opinion that it is the French who are sowing the seed of destruction. And in my humble opinion I think the time has come when enough is enough of this childish excuse. We should know what is good for us and not allow ourselves to be manipulated by foreign powers for their selfish economic interest. You know what, even if that is true I wouldn’t blame the French for anything, because they are looking out for what is good for them. And what do our leaders do: they sell their country for thirty pieces of silver.

To all those who are engaged in this war of attrition – dying and maiming themselves for those power drunk leaders of theirs. This is what they should know if they have not thought about it. They move about in reinforced armoured plated cars and they eat three square meals and drink imported wine plus desserts, and observe all basic human hygiene. The reality is they don’t care a damn about their suffering. They are only fighting for them to amass wealth and stash them in European banks. Are people who behave like this worth fighting and dying for? Oh the foot soldiers of the Ivorian crisis defuse your grenades, turn your Kalashnikov into ploughshare and let your cutlasses till the land. Don’t destroy your cities for the parochial interest of some few men who here today and gone tomorrow. Think about the next generation, and the legacy you are leaving behind. Think about the psychological trauma that the survivors are going to live with and bequeath to their children. Are these worth fighting for some selfish leader to take over power? All the Ivoirians should know better.

And now let me pump some sense into the head of our leaders who behave like little children on a play ground breathing fire and spiting corrosive venom while picking out the mortar that has been holding us together for the past half century. It is time they put a stop to it and behave like statesmen and women, because the distance between love and hate is very thin. There are a lot of unstable mind out there that demagogues can manipulate easily to cause trouble that we can do without.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr.



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina