Apr 05


As I was writing this column, I received a jolting report from Accra.

A young friend of mine phoned to tell me: “ I have left the hostel where I used to stay. There are too many refugees hanging about there. Most of them are from the Ivory Coast but there are some from Libya too. It’s become dangerous to live there.

“You see the displaced persons everywhere – some of them even sleep at bus stops because they have nowhere else to go. This is happening in our peaceful Ghana o!”

Most of the refugees and displaced persons in the world undergo their terrible sufferings as a result of politics. In their countries, people who do not know how to rule properly are put in charge of affairs, and they create conditions which lead to loss of lives. So people flee in order to try and save their lives.

Fleeing into another country carries with it a great deal of danger. The worst danger is to be suspected by the local populace to be a person who is not trustworthy. My friend left the hostel for fear of being harmed by refugees. But for all we know, none of the refugees means any harm. Of course, we don’t know what a desperate situation might force any person to do.

It is extremely sad that the world is so full of people who are not qualified to rule others but who nevertheless want to impose themselves on the rest of their fellow countrymen and women, and thereby create conditions that force some people to flee for their lives. Those whose countries are relatively peaceful should cherish the peace that they are lucky to enjoy and do nothing to place it at risk.

In this connection, I have been extremely concerned at the political wrangling that has been going on over the court verdict regarding the Ya-Na’s murder case. That such a tragedy ever occurred at all is a terrible disgrace to our country. For we make a great deal of noise about how we respect and value out traditional institutions.

But that the aftermath of the disgraceful deed should lead to All manner of violence – including government party members torching their own party’s regional offices — shows that we have a long way to go before we understand how modern politics works.

A modern government cannot impose its will over the court system in existence in the country. All the government can do is to ask its prosecution authorities to investigate a matter and present as strong a case to the courts as possible. If the prosecution authorities do not present strong evidence to the court, the court cannot rule in their favour.

Everyone who thinks the courts should be partial should put himself or herself in the position of a person who has been charged to court. Who would you like to be found guilty when the evidence does not support a verdict of guilty? The guilt or otherwise of persons who face charges in court is a contentious issue which can take years to argue over.

That is why a court system has been evolved to sift evidence expertly and comer to conclusions about it. Once a decision is reached, it must be accepted. If there are elements about the decision which baffle one’s mind, the appeal system is there where these aspects of the matter can be pursued further. That is how a modern state is run.

It is disgraceful that politicians – whoever they are – should seize upon such highly emotive issues, which tear at the heart-strings of those directly involved, as well as those who had never ever seen the Ya-Na before he died, to canvass for cheap political support.

In fact, to make remarks about the case that are clearly inflammatory has not been the most statesmanlike action our political class has carried out. Frustration about the matter there is, yes. But restraint – until the judicial processes are exhausted – is the only course open to those, both in government and opposition, whose duty it is to lead this country into legality and the peace and prosperity legality alone can bring about. Stoking the flames of war in a locality already so badly discriminated against in the allocation of amenities that it is a political tinderbox, was quite simply callous.
The law of the jungle is, of course, now completely swamping our neighbour, the Ivory Coast, where, every day, we hear of the discovery of the bodies of defenceless citizens who have been slaughtered in the name of politics.

How a country of 20 million people, with such a rich tradition of economic growth and an unequalled dedication to the joi de vivre , can be so easily sacrificed on the altar of the political ambitions of two men, will count as one of the most senseless forays of tragedy into human life in the 21st century.
And it isn’t as if the two men – Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo – are your ‘Kofi Brokeman’ types, either.

Ouattara, after his early education in French-language institutions, went to the USA and obtained a bachelor of science degree in 1965 from the Drexel Institute of Technology, which is now called Drexel University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ouattara then went on to the University of Pennsylvania, where he took both a master’s degree in economics in 1967 and a doctorate in economics in 1972.

Ouattara worked as an economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington. In November 1990, President Felix Houphouet-Boigny appointed him Prime Minister.

Laurent Gbagbo has an equally respectable social background. his opposition to Houphouet-Boigny’s dictatorship led to his being imprisoned from 1971 to 1973. Gbagbo went into exile in France soon afterwards, but returned home in September 1988. His main political achievement was to prevent Gen. Robert Guei, who had come to power in a coup in December 1999, from rigging an election held on October 22, 2000, by organising a popular revolt. He was installed as President on October 26 2000, but pursued the same short-sighted Ivoiritḗ politics as Guei and Bedie before him. So a coup took place against him in 2002, as a result of which the country was split in two.

After prolonged negotiations, an uneasy coalition government was formed in 2004. Gbagbo deliberately delayed elections until November 2010. Ouattara won, but Gbagbo refused to leave the presidency. Hence the current fighting which is causing so much bloodshed.

Gbagbo is part of that group of African politicians who behave like untutored Class One children who are running a race for the first time. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Mwai Kibaki of Kenya are also in that group. For them, it is “ME! ME!ME! I won! “

When Laurent Gbagbo was in exile in Paris, he won the sympathy of the French Left by describing to them, the undemocratic actions of Houphouet, whose ego was so gargantuan that he spent $300m to build himself a basilica-cum-burial-tomb at Yamoussoukro.

But he is now destroying his country, rather than accept an internationally certified election result. Like a broken record, he tells all who will listen, “Alassane Ouattara was not declared the winner by the ‘constitutional council’.

But that is dishonest. For what Gbagbo fails to disclose is that it was HE who appointed the president of the ‘constitutional council’ – his own former Minister of the Interior, Paul Yao N’Dré – whom he put in that position precisely to make it impossible for anyone other than Gbagbo to win!

This is what is known about Paul Yao N’Dré:
“Born at Gogobro in Divo Department, Paul Yao N’Dré worked as a law professor and was active in Gbagbo’s political party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), for years. Under Gbagbo’s presidency, he served in the government as Minister of the Interior… He was considered part of Gbagbo’s personal circle of advisers and eventually became the FPI’s National Secretary for Justice and Human Rights.

“In 2009, upon the expiry of Yanon Yapo’s six-year term as President of the Constitutional Council, President Gbagbo appointed Yao N’Dré to succeed Yapo. His appointment concerned the opposition, whose paper Le Nouveau Réveil, predicted that it was ‘impossible to imagine that Yao N’Dré would ever approve election results showing that Gbagbo had lost the election’. The independent, Paris-based magazine, Jeune Afrique, also noted that Gbagbo’s power to appoint a staunch political loyalist to head the Constitutional Council, “offered him another way to influence the outcome of the forthcoming presidential election.” UNQUOTE

Is this legalistic charade worth spilling so much human blood for? It is too shameful for words.


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1 comment

    • Samuel on April 7, 2011 at 10:35 am

    It is sad that for an art which is meant to be ‘the art of the possible’ or which is meant to resolve conflict or build consensus has left many homeless and made many to loose their lives. Politicians must begin to realise that politics is just like a sport. Where you loose you accept defeat, go and rebuild and come and ‘revenge’ your defeat possibly. For winners its about acknowledging the efforts of your opponet and reaching out to him, ‘changing jerseys’ possibly will do the trick. If this is done we will live in peace just like arsenal fans live with spurs fans in london and just like kotoko fans live with hearts of oak fans both in accra and kumasi. Teams dont hold their supporters to ransom because they want to win a match. Our politicians must begin to undertand that politics is the art of the possible

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