“LE MONDE” SPECIAL CORRESPODENT ANSWERS QUESTIONS IN LIVE CHAT FROM ABIDJAN
Jean-Philippe Remy, special envoy of Le Monde in Abidjan
“Ivory Coast is now in limbo as this impossible situation evolves”
For Le Monde.fr | 10.12.10 | 4:12 p.m.
Disillusioned Democrat: Do you think the situation of Laurent Gbagbo is sustainable?
Jean-Philippe Remy : That is the question. It is currently in a new situation in the sense that the international reaction and the reaction of Africa following a disputed election are of an intensity never seen in any event on the African continent.
As this situation is exceptional in every respect, it is difficult to make predictions by comparing with a previous situation. Nevertheless, we see only two presidents, two men who challenged the legitimacy and tools of the state, the daily management will quickly become very complicated in Côte d’Ivoire .
Alassane Ouattara and his government have made appointments, and try to get that financial mechanisms of the state came under their control. If that succeeds, the economic power of Laurent Gbagbo will obviously complicated.
So beneath the surface of relative peace for several days in Abidjan, we feel fall into place the elements that will lead to a transformation of the situation.
Geraud Magrin : Can we envision a scenario in Haiti (where President Aristide clung to power as long as possible to negotiate a comfortable retirement with his family in South Africa) Gbagbo camp or can it hope to strengthen and take it with time (for resource control at the port of Abidjan, and / or showing AD Ouattara as the “candidate from abroad”)?
There are several issues in your question. Is it possible to imagine that constitutes a “Gbagboland” living resources – coffee, cocoa, etc.. ? It is not unthinkable but quite complex because of the procedures followed by coffee and cocoa which are consistent with international regulations.
To move to a strict economic isolation, it would break all those rules. Most industry players are inherently opposed.
Nobody wants to go into a savings of warlords.
The port, it is also governed by the need to comply with international regulations. So only a headlong rush of extreme gravity would imagine to pull resources in this way. And it would mean a break and isolation even more serious.
Yet, precisely, it is not just international institutions like the UN who have spoken on the Cote d’Ivoire and his election is also the whole of Africa, through organizations like the African Union , which has just suspended the Ivory Coast and talks about the possibility of sanctions in the future if the outcome of the presidential election certified by the UN was not respected.
It is also the regional organization, ECOWAS, which is on the same line, and a number of African countries, unilaterally, meant they supported the decision collectively.
Break with the whole of Africa seems difficult for Côte d’Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo, and the surest way to lead to failure.
Nicolas: How do you estimate the position of the army? Is unfailingly faithful to Laurent Gbagbo? What might be his interest to turn away from him?
Always be cautious when trying to assess the collective position of a body as the Ivorian army, and with many differences.
Over the years, power has increased the number of followers in the army, promoted those who were close to him – what was called the promotions “Ble Goude.
On the one hand, it was part of the army loyal, well equipped, which has incorporated into its ranks of patriots. On the other, a number of officers on the other hand saw their careers stagnate and whose discontent is likely to be expressed demand.
However, it is difficult to determine the actual weight of the latter. In recent days, moreover, some elements deemed unreliable by the government were removed from their command post.
The former rebels – FAFN, Armed Forces of Forces Nouvelles – maintain discrete group of disgruntled army loyalist, but how can it influence outcome of a military nature? It is difficult to assess accurately.
Ghislain Chantepie : It is touching to see dictators meeting within the African Union to give lessons in democracy to Gbagbo. This suspension did she really have any impact?
First, consider that the African Union can be defined as a group of dictators is quite inaccurate. It is a continental organization in which it is important to share when you’re a head of state of this continent. That’s why decisions are important at this time to determine the sequence of events in Côte d’Ivoire.
Before even thinking about what could be sanctions, cut completely from the rest of Africa is extremely risky for a President of the continent.
Laurent Gbagbo can count on a number of allies who have made so far very discreet, among which include Angola, Equatorial Guinea and to a lesser extent Benin. These countries may not wish to conflict with the rest of the continent, and is also the reason why the position of the African Union is of importance.
Sandra: The Ivorians they see the declarations of France and the international community as interference?
First, there is probably no “response of Ivorians.” There are a variety of viewpoints on this issue.
The fact that France’s position is the same as that of the United States, but also the European Union, and finally the whole of Africa, not to mention the UN, makes it difficult to accuse France of being responsible for the current situation.
In the public debate in Côte d’Ivoire, France also is much less present than it was several years ago, when the Ivorian issue was constantly reduced to a confrontation between Laurent Gbagbo and French President .
Nevertheless, one can not dismiss the idea that at some point be reactivated mechanisms playing on the anti-French sentiment, particularly in the middle of the patriots, who had helped in the past to transform political situations to the advantage of power of Laurent Gbagbo.
Nguessan NDRI: Is it possible for the international community to unseat Gbagbo militarily?
This is absolutely not a question, insofar as the international community is not an entity equipped with an army, let alone a defined policy.
Was formed in recent days unanimity in Africa and around the world to consider the exceptional election whose second round took place on November 28 can not be thrown to the dogs.
As international and regional organizations to bring common positions clear to require that a vote be respected fundamental in the history of Côte d’Ivoire is one thing. But this does not mean an army charged to intervene. This remains a fiction.
However, it is clear that if an attack took place in Abidjan against the hotel where the Gulf Alassane Ouattara, his government and his prime minister, there would be a reaction on the one hand, elements of the ex-rebels but also the United Nations, which are responsible for its protection. And that includes the Licorne force, the elements that constitute the French rapid reaction force of the UN.
If such a thing were to happen, we would enter a very different phase of which is difficult to know the course. But in the present state of things is more a weight that all international agencies trying to persuade Gbagbo to recognize the election results and leave office.
Ghislain Chantepie: What will the reaction from the Licorne troops if the situation escalates?
The Licorne force has a mission of rapid reaction force of the UN, which means that an attack against the UN protect – Alassane Ouattara – would his reaction. Where the French community would be threatened in Abidjan, the Licorne force would also be used to organize the evacuation.
But this force has no authority to intervene in its own military in Côte d’Ivoire.
William: What are the chances that the Patriots are attacking the French and white as they did in 2003. France is ready?
For now, we see that the slogans that were given to groups patriots are instead calling for calm. On the other hand, experts believe that the strength and organization of patriotic groups have declined since the great years 2003-2006.
But we can keep in mind that the use of “street ministry” to influence politically in a difficult situation may remain a weapon to power in isolation.
William: What is the probability of an attack by the Forces Nouvelles (FN) in Abidjan?
Hard to say. One thing is certain: both camps are extremely tight and both are convinced they can be attacked.
One risk now is that a simple slip lights the fire, although the impression now is that each side wants to get beat on the ground of legitimacy for its position other than by weapons. But we are not immune to surprise.
Ghislain Chantepie: It was said that elements of the Forces Nouvelles were in Abidjan. What is it exactly?
There was a strengthening of the New Forces (former rebels) in the South in the elections, because a mixed force composed of former rebels and loyalist soldiers must ensure the security of the ballot.
After the vote, these former rebels are probably remained in the South, especially in Abidjan, but it is difficult to know how many. Some provide security for the hotel’s Gulf is not known where the other. We do not know their exact number.
All these mysteries are contributing to the tension and the idea in an attack by loyalist forces of the former rebels can occur at any time.
Philip, the press is it controlled by Gbagbo or she informs this “dual presidency” and his reasons?
Concerning the media, we must distinguish, first, television and on the other hand, the print media. Television, since the interference of international channels, is reduced to the RTI (Ivorian Radio and Television), controlled by Gbagbo’s camp, and avoids mention of the existence of the Presidency Ouattara.
Ouattara is mentioned from time to time as the “other candidate”.
We encounter people in the street who ask: “But what happens?” RTI is omnipotent in the dissemination of information, and there in Côte d’Ivoire, probably, People who know that a government was formed around Alassane Ouattara.
The press, it is different. There are many newspapers that everyone has a clear political orientation. But they are obviously not distributed everywhere and therefore do not have the same impact as the RTI.
Tocqueville: How long do you think that Ouattara would agree to live in the Hotel du Golf whether the international pressure does not change the situation one iota? Do you think it will order the rebels to rise up? Gbagbo’s camp has had no interest, he, to sow disorder and from …
Yes, yes, the Gbagbo camp has every incentive to raise his back and let slip the time to try to establish a fact.
Conversely, Ouattara tent camp at this time to strip all modes of government, in particular the crippling financial circuit of the state.
How long does it take to get to the end of this tactic and be forced to switch to other methods if nothing has succeeded? Difficult to answer. But questions began to be raised about the ability of Alassane Ouattara to rush out of events which could be locked into a hotel in the Gulf.
Ghislain Chantepie: How does the population? Fear or anger?
William: What is the situation in Abidjan, especially in poor neighborhoods?
Obviously, the reaction of each other depends on their political opinion. Part of the population that supports Laurent Gbagbo has made discreet since the outcome of the election.
Part of the population that supports Alassane Ouattara had hoped to lead mass movements, said many people in the neighborhoods but were given the watchword to prevent clashes.
In this atmosphere quite tense, there were a few days of total block with some demonstrations and burned tires, and a real paralysis of life of all days had become untenable.