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Dec
29

LE MONDE INTERVIEWS LAURENT GBAGBO

Laurent Gbagbo denounces a “conspiracy” Franco-American
for the Monde.fr |

27.12.10 | 7:34 • Updated 28.12.10 | 8:10 p.m.

In an interview with Le Monde, Laurent Gbagbo, the outgoing president of Côte d’Ivoire , returns to the conduct of the presidential election on November 28. He accused France and the United States of inciting the African Union, the United Nations and ECOWAS to support his rival Alassane Ouattara .

Q: ECOWAS, the economic organization of countries in West Africa, threatens to use “legitimate violence” , in other words to intervene militarily in Côte d’Ivoire. Do you take these threats seriously?

Laurent Gbagbo: The threats must be taken seriously but then we must keep a cool head and realize that it would be the first time that African countries went to war against another country because an election s’ went down badly. Look at the map of Africa, look at the map of the elections which take place more or less, more or less badly, and then the card where there is no election at all. If one were to go to war with that card, I think Africa would be perpetually at war. So I take it seriously because they are threats, but I stay quiet, wait and see.

Q You believe in the possibility of military intervention?

A Things can slip at any time, so take everything seriously, but they decided to send a delegation [of heads of state Tuesday] . It should start there. It would have saved a lot of things, lots of saliva, lots of adrenaline. You must come see what’s happening in Côte d’Ivoire, and when we saw what happens, then decisions are made.

Are there conditions that would allow you to negotiate with Mr. Ouattara?

I never ask when I talk of preconditions. Me, I see that the rules in force in Côte d’Ivoire, which were never reported by anyone, [provide that] I am the president, so naturally, when we discuss I’ll put it on table, it must be said that those rules have been criticized by anyone.

You spoke of conspiracy by France and the United States against the Ivory Coast. What is it?

Before the election, I did my part. I asked the other [former rebel] to do their part by disarming. All pressures are for us to go to elections without disarming. There, one can speak of the beginning of the plot. All pressures from all sides. I myself had no reason to doubt the rebels with whom I agreed with the Ouagadougou agreement, and with whom I was managing the crisis. I could see, integrated, behaving in a fair, I had no reason to doubt they would use the weapons after they had not filed to pervert the election. Second, existing institutions, recognized by all [actually, the Constitutional Council] , they proclaim the elected president, everyone said “no, Ouattara we take for president” .

Who is this “we” ?

This is our first in France, but it was the ambassador of France and the United States ambassador. We come to the end of the first round. The results are a bit questionable but I have not disputed. We go to the second round, the IEC [Independent Electoral Commission] has three days to yield results, it does not give. At midnight at a quarter the IEC President, Mr. Bakayoko comes on television, he was told TV5 that have yielded results, he made a sharp focus to say, we gave no result. Midnight arrives. Candidate, I’m in front of my television, because it is time that all candidates lie in wait to see how the votes have been focused on them. Midnight passes. The IEC is “off” . The next day, the Ambassador of France and Ambassador of the United States will seek Bakayoko Youssouf , president of IEC, and bring it to the Hotel du Golf, which is the headquarters of my opponent. We learn that there is a foreign television, which was given the result which gives Ouattara winner. Chairman of the Constitutional Council intervenes to say that these are not results. He decided that Laurent Gbagbo was elected president. From that time, French and Americans say no, we Ouattara is that we recognize. Is all that is called conspiracy.

What is wrong with France and the United States?

I do not see the problem is them. How our elections are their problem?

France and the United States is powerful enough to lead the African Union, the United Nations, Ecowas [Economic Community of African States West]?

I realize they are powerful enough for that.

This is the speech that you will make on Tuesday to the delegation of heads of State of ECOWAS?

These are the facts that I present. I tell the facts.

Think you convince them?

I’ll tell them to go and check the materiality of those facts wherever possible. When people are detached from facts is that they do not want the truth, not justice. However, these conflicts are created by people who are strangers to us. I do not understand why these people choose a candidate they support. It is not their role.

Them? France and the United States?

In the first place. Positions with incredible, inexplicable and unjustifiable they take, these countries are pushing for a confrontation inside. Today, I rely on the Ivorian institutions, on the laws. Then you have others who now rely on foreign powers. There may be an internal disorder, civil war in Côte d’Ivoire, because we are not going to trample on our right and our institutions.

You’re ready to go where?

There is no need to be ready to go somewhere, it’s us who are assaulted. It is we who have the right for us. How far those who attack us are ready to go? I’ll tell you something. I am elected president in 2000. In 2002, I am attacked, assaulted. We have never seen neither France nor the EU nor the U.S. nor the UN, or Ecowas, to take sanctions against those who attacked a plan in accordance with the law. It has never seen.

Who should be punished?

But those who had attacked us!

And who was it?

They are known! You do not know? This position they take is a continuation of the aggression we suffered in 2002. From 2002 to today, those who took up arms against a sovereign state, a democratically elected, those have never been sanctioned by anyone.

Their names?

This is a detail. At this point, everyone is blind, everyone has made the deaf, everyone was mute, as the parable of the monkeys. Now they meet every speech, the use of eyes, the use of ears, and they shout: “Down with Gbagbo!” But Gbagbo law with him.

Abductions, torture of opponents, 173 dead according to the UN …

When I took office in 2000, they had emerged from the graves, there were mass graves in Yopougon killings. Today, the main debate is what? It Gbagbo and Ouattara are candidates in the second round of the presidential election. Who is elected? That’s the debate. So when this debate embarrassment, as in 2000, this debate is slid toward human rights. Ah yes, there were deaths, there were mass graves … I see the similarity of behavior between 2000 and 2010. I see the same thing, exactly. Because in 2000, there are some who have questioned my election, that tried to endorse [this position] in Africa. The Nigerian Obasanjo and South Africa had even sought the annulment of the elections.

I have sent people to say it was unrealistic. So after that we went to “yes, there are mass graves, there are people who are dead and all” … I’m going tomorrow Monday I ask the minister of justice to all attorneys [at work] to do surveys. [ He grabs a yellow folder ] We here investigate the health department of health on people who are injured, who died. There is no more than that … There are many wounded, injured by weapons. Of law enforcement who are injured by bullets, knives. We have our documents, we are not afraid of this debate.

Alassane Ouattara launched the idea of bringing a delegation of the ICC …

At the time of the Marcoussis talks in January 2003, I know a head of state neighbor who was elected to 80% … – Maybe I should manage to win with 80%, I would have been less suspect – who had said “Yes, Gbagbo must go to the ICC” . Him! And it was quite tasty. So these are the same slides. 2000, 2010, the same scenario. So we are no longer surprised. The Ivorians have voted Nov. 28, which they elected? And institutions who have proclaimed? That is the substance of the matter. Do not drag it to go on problems we already know.

There is a conspiracy, then?

Ouattara which aims to install in power. And there are powers outside Africa, which I do not know why, the dream is to Ouattara in power.

And African countries who support the UN decision? They are manipulated?

I do not want to talk about that. Otherwise, either one is too bad, or nothing is said. Just know that we make the meetings of the African Union and ECOWAS, representatives of European countries are still more numerous than those in the corridors of African countries.

They [the Europeans]are always in the hallways, numerous, to give you an example, at the Sharm el-Sheikh, there was the agenda the issue of Zimbabwe, there were so many Europeans in the corridors that an African head of state took the floor to say: “Look, the Europeans are so grotesque;[exerting so much] pressure that we decide to support Mugabe, even if you do not like it.” And it is this position that has been passed . There are times where it raises a ras-le-bol. The pressures are enormous. On all heads of state than I’ve had the phone, the Africans, they say the same thing: we can take no more! There’s even one who said he received three phone calls a day at least from the Elysee.

You feel you are in a situation comparable to that of Robert Mugabe ?

We do not know well, I saw him like this a few times, but when we suffer what I suffered, we say that the other was not totally wrong. Here you can search it has nothing to hide from anyone at … Neither the money nor the level of governance, either in terms of human rights, so when you see people go after us All people who come to discuss business, I’ve never asked for their [one] franc, so I’m really quite comfortable. When you see these people strive, you say, maybe he [Mugabe] he was not wrong.

The presence of the Hotel du Golf is sustainable?

I do not even know why they are there.

For now, they can neither leave nor enter …

No! Whoever wants to go home can go home.

There are roadblocks that prohibit out …

Roadblocks have been from the time when people were inside. When they used weapons. However, the Hotel du Golf, it is perhaps five or ten minutes of boat from the residence of the Head of State, is nearby. We are obliged to take security measures for both them and us. I do not know why they went to clump together in a corner of the territory.

Interview by Jean-Philippe Rémy

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