While there is much turmoil brewing in the Middle East and the natural disaster which took place in Japan two weeks ago, I wanted to shed light on what has been going on in the Ivory Coast. Presidential elections were held in November, and while the people have spoken and voted for the President they want, they unfortunately have not received such peace.
Mr. Laurent Gbagbo refuses to cede power to the man who is rightfully, and recognized as, the winner of last year’s election, President-elect Alassane Ouattara. In his turbulent antics, Mr. Gbagbo’s refusal to step down has been the cause of the death of hundreds of Ivorians who have been protesting his “presidency.” Many of these victims have been women who protest outside of their homes-mainly in the city of Abidjan- because their husbands are depressed and exhausted from the lack of work and ability to provide money and food for their families.
Some 90,000 people have fled Ivory Coast because of the fighting to go to Liberia– a poor country recovering from its own civil war, while hundreds more have crossed into Ghana. Although United Nations officials, as well as other African Presidents, have travelled consistently to Ivory Coast to urge Mr. Gbagbo to officially concede power, the authoritarian ruler has repeatedly shunned their advice and warnings. His condemnation of the UN and African Presidents was elevated as he had his guards act as a human barricade for entrance into his office. It is feared that his behavior will increase “the risks of destabilizing the region,” as UNHCR head Antonio Guterres told the BBC’s Network Africa program.
Mr. Ouattara remains trapped in a lagoon-side hotel under the protection of United Nations peacekeeping troops, as Mr. Gbagbo, who continues to be supported by the army and a portion of the population, conducts an armed fight to stay in power.
It is now feared that the country will soon be at war, as Mr. Gbagbo’s supporters “joined the army” in efforts to “liberate” the country.
As you pray for the victims/citizens of Libya and Japan, please remember the victims of the Ivory Coast.