Monday, May 23, 2011

A Reoccuring theme: Ivory Coast

I have been on a hiatus and I apologize to my five followers. My academic life has been hectic to say the least. Today I saw a copy of the Sunday issue for the Seattle Times and casually picked it up.  I was flipped through and A5 caught my attention.
A president's inauguration occurs amidst political unrest and bloodshed. Well, that's nothing new in Africa. Blunt statement is pretty blunt. However don't think I'm being dismissive. Africa's history should be prominent and known in the media. Sadly until recently I always noticed a gap with news and Africa. Those two in a sentence only happened in circumstances such as Darfur and genocide. By then it was often too late, cue in Rwanda for a haunting example.
However more recently has the news become embedded with African international current events. Egypt and Liberia. Corrupt leaders, democracy and the United Nations have all been exposed and highlighted.
Cue in the Ivory Coast, which has slowly been descending into madness under Laurent Gbagbo's rule. Civil war was arising and mass graves were being discovered.
The new president is Alassane Ouattara. He was inaugurated in a barricaded hotel. Gbagbo had empoyed his army to block the hotel entirely.  Ouatarra was democratically elected but his supporters have been pitted against Gbagbo supporters, hence civil unrest. Ouatarra had made several diplomatic attempts to make Gbagbo step down. The one mistake Ouatarra may have made was to resort to an anti-Gbagbo rebel group for help.Gbagbo's residence in the capital was seized by the French and the U.N. on April 11. Only then were the rebels able to capture and arrest Gbagbo. In the meantime, Gbagbo and Ouatarra supporters killed themselves.
Even though a new president has arrived the Ivory Coast is unlike Egypt and other African countries vying for independence. Ouatarra is still holed up in his hotel. His rebel groups have killed many Gbagbo's supporters. Blood continues to spill on both sides and is unlikely to stop. This halted issue will affect other countries--it will be interesting to see if Burkina Faso and Ghana will become part of the ripple effect. Trade relations and international attention are a question mark for the Ivory Coast. While I remain happy Africa is getting more coverage--I am afraid it will only be for a short amount of time. And if anything, the world needs to keep watching this pattern for democracy in Africa.