Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ivory Coast crisis: ECOWAS has eggs on face, West Africa Central Bank lies about freezing account

The drama that is going on in Ivory Coast is becoming farcical, as the actors each look ridiculous and unfit for their roles.

The actor with the worst act in the drama has turned out to be ECOWAS, the West African regional grouping made up of 15 countries, some ruled by dictators and known lunatics who are hounding and killing their own citizens daily. There are even suspected murderers with no known democratic credentials parading the corridors of ECOWAS as presidents.

It was therefore, funny when ECOWAS, despite its inability to raise an army under the circumstances jumped the gun, joined the chorus of international community to order Laurent Gbagbo to step down or be removed by military force.

The ECOWAS obviously, eager to be seen to be part of the international community in condemning the situation in Ivory Coast, issued the threats against Laurent Gbagbo without any careful analysis of the issues at stake.

The other joker whose jokes fail to amuse the audience is the West African Central Bank (BCEAO). Despite joining the IMF, World Bank and others to impose economic and financial sanctions on the Gbagbo faction, the Gbagbo government is said to be drawing money from the Dakar office of the bank every day.

Allasane Ouattara, the man the international community believes is the winner of the November 28, 2010 election run-off complained to journalists in Washington in a conference call that the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, was still receiving central bank funds on a daily basis.

Gbagbo is still withdrawing money daily from the BCEAO, headquartered in Senegal, Dakar.

Apart from the financial muscle Gbagbo has as a result of the BCEAO’s decision to allow him access to the country’s funds, despite telling the whole world that it has frozen the accounts, Gbagbo says he can’t guarantee the safety of the millions of ECOWAS citizens in that country.

Now stuck in a quagmire, ECOWAS seems to be embarrassed with no clear answer to the political stand-off in Ivory Coast, which without any doubt is a threat to regional stability.

Right from the word go, it was possible to tell that ECOWAS has no political will to invade Ivory Coast with an army to remove Gbagbo from office. The act in itself would have been catastrophic for the people of Ivory Coast and its neighbours, particularly, Liberia and Ghana. The high number of refugees already fleeing to Liberia and the fall in business activities on border towns between Ghana and Ivory Coast are signs that portend to what could possibly have happened, as the military invasion would lead to an escalation of violence in that country.

As Ivory Coast continues on the precipice, it doesn’t appear clearly now that the international community has an answer to the political crisis. ECOWAS, by its hasty thoughtless threat has lost the moral right to mediate a peaceful resolution, so now who would intervene?

In any case, a speedy resolution of the tension in Ivory Coast is necessarily and must therefore be achieved as soon as possible to save that country from falling headlong into destruction.

It is unfortunate, however, that over 240 people have already died and some 50 are reported missing.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi