Foreign Policy Blogs

Cote D'Ivoire: Une autre intervention

Libyan officials aren’t the only ones seeking to defect to neighboring countries these days.  Like the Qadaffi clan in Tripoli, the regime of Cote D’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo has come under international pressure as violence between the incumbent and the opposition escalates.  Top level officials, including the head of the country’s armed forces,  are apparently seeking a way out under the pressure of a second UN-approved military intervention in as many weeks.  And once again, it’s the French who are leading the charge.

The turmoil in the world’s largest cocoa producing country came to a head this week, as forces loyal to the opposition leader, Alassane Ouattara — whom the UN, African Union and international community in general recognize as the legitimate winner of a presidential poll late last year — laid siege to Abidjan, where Gbagbo and his supporters have been holed up in recent weeks, refusing to relinquish power.  French helicopter strikes,  inspired by the international intervention in Libya, gave cover to the advancing rebels.  Attacks on UN peacekeepers by Gbagbo forces provided the political cover for the world body to authorize action.

French and UN officials used similar language to justify the military intervention as in Libya, adding that France would take the lead in negotiating a way out for the president of the former French colony.

President Obama has called for Gbagbo to step down immediately, while African Union leaders have said the problems in Cote D’Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, don’t merit international military intervention.  “Africa does not need any external influence, he said, according to a report on the Web site Expatica.  The Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, called for a ” safe and dignified exit” for Gbagbo, according to VOA News.

The somewhat hasty intervention occurred not just in the wake of international intervention in Libya, but following months of failed negotiations aimed at removing Gbagbo from power, led primarily by the UN, African Union and France. It has also led many to question the direction of French foreign policy under President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has pushed France towards a more muscular role on the world stage in recent weeks, to the chagrin and puzzlement of many French, who generally oppose such military action.

It also raises questions about the role of the UN in Africa, as the world body has shied away from military action in places long torn apart by conflict, like Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

Author

Robert Nolan
Robert Nolan

Robert Nolan is Editor-in-Chief of New Media at the Foreign Policy Association and a writer and producer of the Great Decisions Television Series on PBS. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Zimbabwe and graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, he has interviewed numerous heads of state, Nobel Prize winners, artists and musicians, and policymakers.

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