Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Socialist Forum Of Ghana on the worsening situation in Ivory Coast

Among civil society groups in Ghana, the Socialist Forum of Ghana has been the most critical concerning recent events in Ivory Coast since the November 28 polls which has been disputed resulting in a stalemate as to who is the legitimate president is. I re-publish here a press statement released last week of their analysis and understanding of the issues.


On 24th Day of March 2011, the Heads of State Government of ECOWAS, meeting in Abuja (Nigeria), passed a resolution (RES.1/03/11) to request the UN Security Council to mandate the United Nations’ Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), to use all necessary means to facilitate the immediate transfer of power to Mr. Alassane Ouattara; and for the United Nations Security Council to adopt more robust actions against Mr. Laurent Gbagbo and his associates.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

We wish to remind you and the rest of the country that Ghanaian troops are serving in Cote d’Ivoire under a parent UN Security Council Resolution 1528, which was passed in 2004.

Under that Resolution, the UN peacekeeping contingent was mandated principally:

  • To observe and monitor the implementation of the comprehensive ceasefire agreement of 3rd May 2003 and investigate violations of the ceasefire;
  • To liaise with the National Armed Forces of Côte d’Ivoire (FANCI) and the military elements of the Forces Nouvelles in order to promote the establishment of trust between all Ivorian forces
  • To guard weapons, ammunition and other military materials handed over by the former combatants and to secure, neutralize or destroy such materiel;
  • To protect United Nations personnel, installations and equipment, provide the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel and, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, within its capabilities and its areas of deployment
  • To support, in coordination with the Ivorian authorities, the provision of security for the ministers of the Government of National Reconciliation
  • To provide oversight, guidance and technical assistance to the Government of National Reconciliation, with the assistance of ECOWAS and other international partners, to prepare for and assist in the conduct of free, fair and transparent electoral processes

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

The use of the expression “use all necessary means to facilitate the immediate transfer of power to Mr. Alassane Ouattara” in the recent ECOWAS Heads of State Resolution is effectively calling on the UN to change the status of the United Nations’ Operation in Côte d’Ivoire. In effect, West African leaders are asking for an amendment of the role of the peacekeeping force from that of a peacekeeping, protection and monitoring role to that of a belligerent and offensive war machine on the side of one of the contending parties.

It is the firm view of the Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG) that if the UN Security Council were to adopt the recent decision of the ECOWAS to turn the peacekeepers into a partisan fighting force, the rationale and understanding for which the government of Ghana agreed to send troops, would have been changed.

If that should be the case, Ghanaians would have to ask ourselves why our soldiers should be fighting and probably dying in Cote d’Ivoire. Would it be in defence of “free, fair and transparent electoral processes” or for democracy or what?

In spite of the claims of the ECOWAS Commission, the AU Commission, France, the United States and their western media trying to convince the world that the November 2010 second round Presidential election results in Cote d’Ivoire were conclusive and that one party won, the truth reveals otherwise.

It is an established tradition of the ECOWAS to send election observer teams to monitor elections in West Africa. The ECOWAS election observer mission, would, within two days of an election, publish their interim report. In the particular case of the November 2010 elections in Cote d’Ivoire, the ECOWAS observer team has not been able to publish an interim report, four clear months after the elections. The ordinary people of ECOWAS should ask the Commission, why they have no report on the elections.

The African Union also sent a 200 strong Observer team, led by the former Prime Minister of Togo, Mr. Joseph Kokou KOFIGOH. The report of the AU team on the electoral process was very clear. At post election press conference of the AU team, addressed by Mr. Kofigoh stated:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the delegation has noted a lot of violence. Loss of life, arrest, intimidation, attempt to kidnap, destruction of election equipment. These facts should give the relevant organisations a clear appreciation of events and determine their impact on the results. Moreover, the delegation regrets the kidnapping of two of its members, who were thankfully freed with the help of UN forces.”

According to Societe Civile Africaine pour la Democratie et l’Assistance Electoral (OSCADAE) an independent NGO, that was invited to observe the elections, their Head of Delegation, Ms. Seynabou Indieguene (Senegal) stated:

“In accordance with the recommendations of the declaration of the International principles of Electoral observation adopted by the United Nations on 27th October 2005 by the United Nations and the engagements of Francophone countries in Bamako in November 2000, on free and fair elections observation. As per the request of the Independent Electoral Commission of Cote d’Ivoire to have the presence of international observers in the north, west and central regions of Cote d’Ivoire, the OSCADAE sent its members to Korogho, Touba, Bouake, Mankono, Guiglo, Yamoussoukro and Abidjan.

“From the reports of our observers who have visited 620 polling stations, we can confirm the following: The exercise has been quite violent. The curfew was not observed in the north, west and centre of the country. Opening of polling stations were delayed by between thirty minutes to an hour. The representatives of LMP – President Gbagbo- were refused access to polling stations to do their work, especially in Korogho. Ballot boxes were transported by men in military uniform on bicycles without representatives of the electoral commission. People were told who to vote for at the entrance of polling stations.

“Voters of the LMP were physically attacked in Korogho, especially in Soba Primary School. Voting was done in some polling stations without the necessary equipment. In view of the above, our mission can confirm that the credibility of the run-off in these localities is doubtful.”

In yet another observer report, Mr. Jean-Marie NGONGJIBANGTE of Cameroon, Head of Delegation, Co-ordination of African Election Experts, stated:

“I am the Head of Delegation of Observers from Cameroon, Senegal, Benin, Mali, Morocco, Gabon, and Togo. We have deployed our members to the Regions of Korhogo, Bouake, Katiola, Seguela, Yamousoukro and Abidjan.

“Compared with the first round of Cote d’Ivoire’s Presidential election, the second round took place amid a lot of violence. The Observers of the Co-ordination of African Election Experts have noted that people did not go to the run-offs in as large a number as the first round.

“After sharing information with other national and international election observers, we hereby state that the second round of the Presidential elections in Cote d’Ivoire was held amidst major problems in the regions of Korhogo, Bouake, Seguela, Katiola, Garango,

These problems were stealing of ballot boxes, arresting of candidates’ representatives, multiple voting, refusal to admit international observers to witness counting of ballots, and the murder of representatives of candidates.

“To that effect, we hereby declare that the second round of voting was not free, fair and transparent in these localities”.

In spite of all these, it is bizarre that the ECOWAS, which could not publish the report of its own observers, declared that one side had won a free and fair election. It is even more intriguing, that the AU Commission should have ignored the report of its own observer mission and gone ahead to pronounce one side as victor. It is even more curious that having failed to publish the report of its own observer team, the ECOWAS Commission should have organised and hosted on 8th February 2011, a special presentation for the West African media of the Final Report of the EU Electoral Observation Mission (EUEOM) in Côte d'Ivoire. Where is the ECOWAS Observer Team’s own report?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

That is not all. Immediately following the protest of President Laurent Gbagbo challenging the election results, the AU sent ex-President Thabo Mbeki, the former President of South Africa to Cote d’Ivoire to seek clarification. After considering the election figures presented to him by the Cote d’Ivoire Electoral Commission, ex-President Mbeki recommended that the AU should set up a process to verify the election figures because there were significant red flags. It is again curious that ex-President Mbeki’s recommendation was rejected by the AU Commission.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, the electoral figures, presented to the UN, the ECOWAS, the AU and ex-President Mbeki and which are being used to proclaim Ouattara as winner of the elections, would blow your mind.

For an election result to be credible, the important ingredient is that there should be no major occurrences of ballot box snatching, prevention of candidates' agents from witnessing the voting, widespread intimidation or harassment of voters, etc. Moreover, the electoral officers should be able to accompany the election materials at all times until they have been handed over to the appropriate officials. These ingredients have been reported to be missing in the Cote d’Ivoire presidential run-off.

Secondly, election results must be consistent. The actual votes cast at a polling station or in a constituency must not be more than the total registered voters. However, in Issia, in the Haut Sassandra Region, out of a voters' register containing 79,093 people, Ouattara got 79,771 votes while Gbagbo got 46,976. Ouattara alone got more than the registered voters (120% share) while actual total turnout was 160.25%. In Koumassi, in the Lagunes Region (Abidjan) with 71,190 registered voters, Ouattara got 61,429 while Gbagbo got 56,000. The total votes obtained by both candidates is 117,429, which represents a total turnout of 165%. This is so although according to the Cote d’Ivoire Electoral Commission's own figures, valid votes cast was 59,102. These figures are mathematically impossible.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

There are several more of such cases. If we were to take you through some of the locations where the African observer teams reported cases of electoral fraud, you would find the following:

Constituency Total Votes in Favour of Outara Votes in Favour of Gbagbo

registered Actual votes %Share Actual votes %Share


Korhogo 117,418 98,580 88.11 3,652 3.57

Ferkéssedougou 90,461 81423 96.71 2,772 3.29

(near Korhogo)

Séguéla 52,370 44,552 95.70 2,002 4.3

Mankono 57594 49,438 93.81 3,261 6.19

(near Séguéla)

In other places in the north where the rebel Forces Nouvelles are strongly positioned, the results were even more spectacular.

Constituency Total Votes in Favour of Outara Votes in Favour of Gbagbo

registered Actual votes %Share Actual votes %Share


Madinani 15,644 13973 97.41 372 2.59

Minignan 5803 5214 98.38 86 1.62

Odienné 57417 51322 98.29 1093 2.09

Dabakala 41795 34398 95.02 1803 4.98

It is clear from the AU Observers, OSCADA and the Co-ordination of African Election Experts, who have published their reports, and who say that voting was very chaotic and quite violent in several parts of the country where they observed, that irregularities were widespread. These reports are in direct contrast to the claims by the Head of the European Union’s Election Observer Team in Cote d’Ivoire Mr. Cristian Preda, who stated that “In over 95% of the polling stations, there were present representatives of the two candidates and everybody was satisfied, nobody complained of fraud. The other international observers didn't find any fraud either; and that the only person that saw fraud was the President who refused to leave”.


These are the conclusions of an observer team that admitted that it visited only 5% of the 20,000 polling stations.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

The state of affairs in Cote d’Ivoire looks as if, for some leaders in the ECOWAS, the AU, the EU, the United States, the election results were determined even before the ballot took place. We now have a situation in which the European Union, France and the United States, supported by the ECOWAS Commission and the AU (which do not have their own reports) are turning the UN peacekeeping contingent in Cote d’Ivoire into a rogue organisation which, for some months now, has been involved in numerous illegalities, way beyond their mandate.

A few examples may suffice here:

Early this month, the Commander of the United Nations “peace-keeping” troops in Cote d’Ivoire, General Abdul Hafiz resigned from his position after a fierce argument with Mr. JIN CHOI, the Representative of the UN Secretary General in Cote d’Ivoire. Gen. Hafiz was protesting against the calculated attempts by France, US and other western countries to use the UN soldiers to manipulate the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, even if it means killing innocent Ivorians. In a statement to reporters, he said,

“Our role has been diverted; I do not understand the new role we are having. The bosses are asking us to fire on civilians, to help the rebels’ camp to fight the regular army. We are not in this country to kill Ivoirians. We are training, arming, transporting the OUATTARA army; I could not take it anymore and I briefed several times CHOI about this unfair situation we are in, but it looks like he has another mandate that has nothing to do with preventing war and promoting peace… “

He continued, “I stopped, because I do not want to be in the wrong. Coming from one of the poorest countries in the world, I know that by doing this, I lose a lot of money, but I have done it for my dignity and respect for human life”.

Among the complaints of General Abdul Hafiz is that Mr. Jin Choi, the UN representative, is involved in the recruitment of mercenaries from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Chad and Liberia and dressing them up as UN peace-keepers, who then move armaments to help the rebel soldiers of Ouattara. On 8th and 9th March 2011, more than 100 Burkinabe and Senegalese mercenaries were flown by UN helicopters to the Marahoue National Park, near Bonon, about 50 kilometres west of Yammoussoukro. When an Ivoirian TV station published this report, Mr. Jin Choi accused the Bangladeshi Commander of leaking what Choi calls“top secret” information to the TV station.

Even granting Mr. Choi’s allegation that it is General Hafiz who leaked these pieces of information, it also confirms that UN facilities in Cote d’Ivoire are being used to aid rebels and promote civil war, is true. Should we Ghanaians sit down and allow the UN to use mercenaries in our name?

This crucial information that General Hafiz has resigned in protest was drowned out by the western press, including the BBC and Agence Presse International. They did not even publish it.

Again in February this year, the UN office in Cote d’Ivoire released information that Belarus had violated the UN embargo on arms shipments to the Ivory Coast by sending three MI-24 assault helicopters to aid Laurent Gbagbo. On the basis of this supposed shipment of arms, Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary –General immediately called for an urgent meeting of the Security Council. This was another blatant lie and another sorry attempt at disinformation.

The truth was revealed when Brigadier General Benjamin Freeman Kusi, the Chief in Command of the ONUCI (UN peacekeepers) in the northern zone reported the news of the arrival of the Mi-24 helicopters. Brigadier General Benjamin Freeman Kusi, who is a member of the Ghanaian peace keeping contingent, announced on 27th February 2011, it was the UN that had acquired those three MI-24 combat helicopters to enable the U.N. Force to use them initially as a defensive and dissuasive force. He stated that the helicopters will be stationed at Bouake and will operate on the Bouake-Yamoussoukro-Abidjan axes but with an operational capacity on the whole of the national territory.

Brigadier-General Benjamin Freeman Kusi’s report stated the objective of the helicopter mission as:

- to reinforce the capacity of the current air force of the ONUCI definitively to ensure the superiority of this force in this field.

- Helicopters MI-24 will be parked in Bouake with Ghanaian control

- The helicopters will start from Bouake and will be supplied while fuelling in Abidjan (at the bases of the French Unicorn Force ) and at Delia

- The operation of the MI-24 will be defined by the Air Ops with the agreement of the Force Commander.

- The authority authorising the shooting from the MI-24 will come from the Force Commander of the ONUCI or from any other entity according to the situation

This effectively means that UN forces have prepared to shoot at Ivoirians from helicopter gunships on the basis of a command from the ONUCI.

Even if the UN has decided to order assault gun-ships to shoot at Ivorians, it is very disingenuous that they should turn round and accuse Belarus and President Gbagbo of breaking UN arms embargo?

On 4th March 2011 the UN and the western media, announced that seven anti-Gbagbo women protesters had been shot dead by Gbagbo’s supporters. Later information showed that this was a staged-managed hoax organised by Ouattara supporters to fool the world. No one got killed. Eye witnesses and available video footage have reported that the women were asked to lie down for animal blood to be smeared on them. This cynical action was flagged by the roguish UN office in Cote d’Ivoire, the BBC and Radio France International as evidence that Gbagbo was killing women. The supposed video footage included an allegedly killed woman who tried to get up, thinking that the recording was completed, but who was then told to continue to lie down.

What is happening in Cote d’Ivoire is a deception of the world. This is a travesty. It is this deception and orchestration, which some West African leaders would like Ghanaian soldiers to join to install a President with an inconclusive election results.

It is in the light of these deceptions that the Socialist Forum of Ghana would like to appeal to all well-meaning Ghanaians to join us to appeal to the Government of Ghana, not to allow Ghanaian soldiers to be party to intended massacre of Ivorians, using the umbrella of a UN establishment in Cote d’Ivoire that has become a criminal set-up.

It reminds us of the situation in Congo in 1963, when Ghanaian soldiers, under the so-called umbrella of the UN were made to look on while Patrice Lumumba, the democratically elected leader was captured, murdered, and his body burnt. Mr. President, do not allow this to happen again in our name.