Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's like Florida, but with bullets.

It seems as though that rumors of coming peace and stability in Ivory Coast have turned out to be greatly exaggerated.  It seemed as though a few months ago that the government of President Laurent Gbagbo had come to a deal with the rebels seeking to end hostilities in exchange for allowing the rebels  to participate in presidential elections. Every thing seemed to be going well, until the vote actually happened.
How things turned out depends on who’s doing the telling. According to the country’s independent election commission, opposition and rebel leader Alassane Outtara won the election by a relatively narrow margin. However, the country’s constitutional commission had invalided several votes that had been cast in areas where support for Outtara was strongest and the amount was just enough to re elect Gbagbo.  Did we mention that the constitutional commission is packed with Gbagbo’s political allies?  Needless to say, Outtara hasn’t taken this very well.
So since about November, these two Presidential hopefuls with names that make Barrack Obama look normal have been engaged in a stand off that had made with the closing days of Bush vs. Gore look tame and civil. Both men have had themselves sworn in as President of Ivory Coast.  Outtara and his government have holed up in a hotel where they are enjoying free HBO, complimentary continental breakfast with waffles and the protection of UN peacekeepers against government troops and pro-Gbagbo mobs.  Ivory Coast’s neighbors, including the President of regional power Nigeria and winner of the Coolest Name Ever For a World leader, Goodluck Jonathan, have been trying to politely but firmly tell Gbagbo that is it past closing time and it is time for him to leave. However, the man seems to not be taking a hint. Taking a page from the Kim Jong Il school of thumbing your nose at the international community he is determined to stay in power despite the fact that the Ivoirians don’t seem to want him.
It seems almost as though Africa is locked in this sick twisted spiral and has been so every since the end of colonialism. At first, things look like they are going well but than something happens, a disaster, a famine, someone deciding that he wants to be President but not bothering with the fuss of having to get elected. Once that happens it seems as though everything goes to hell. Ivory Coast was at one time the wealthiest countries in West Africa during the 1960’s and 70’s. But than a drought and a drop in global sugar prices lead to an economic slowdown and internal unrest and finally Civil War and the current mess they are in. One can almost set you watch to when the next major upheaval on this continent is going to be. Heck it seems that that countries that look to have things the most together are just being set up for a big fall. Look at Zimbabwe, once the Breadbasket of Africa, now it is a basket case. So far, South Africa seems to have evaded most of this problems and Nigeria looks like it is pulling it self into the global middle tier. One can hope things shall get better, but part of me doubts it.

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