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30 mars 2016 3 30 /03 /mars /2016 21:46
Madame Rossignol, les "nègres" vous emmerdent / par Claude Ribbe

Les "nègres" vous emmerdent !

par Claude Ribbe

Le 30 mars 2016, quelques jours après le lancement d’une campagne invitant les Français à s’unir contre le racisme, quelques jours aussi après la diffusion d’images choquantes montrant un jeune lycéen roué de coups par la police, parce que sa couleur de peau, peut-être, équivalait à une autorisation de frapper, Laurence Rossignol, une ministre de la République, comparait le port du voile par les femmes musulmanes qui font librement ce choix aux « nègres qui étaient pour l’esclavage ».

Tandis que la ministre, croyant se rattraper, évoquait par la suite une prétendue « faute de langage », certains s’empressaient de parler de «dérapage».

« Il y avait des nègres afric… Des nègres américains qui étaient pour l’esclavage ! » : tels sont les propos de Laurence Rossignol, tenus en direct sur RMC, l’une des radios les plus écoutées de France.

Si le mot «nègre» a parfois été utilisé par des Afro-descendants, c’était pour dénoncer l’esclavage et le racisme qui en fut le ciment. Mais à celui qui le traitait de nègre, Césaire répondait aussitôt : « Le nègre vous emmerde ! »

Quels sont donc ces « nègres afric…», pardon, ces « nègres américains » qui étaient « pour l’esclavage » ? Nat Turner ? Harriet Tubman ? Frederick Douglass ? Henry Bibb ? Solomon Northup ? Toussaint Louverture ? Louis Delgrès ? Solitude ? Flore Gaillard ?

À quelques semaines de la commémoration de l’abolition de l’esclavage, qu’une loi votée en 2001 déclare crime contre l’humanité, la déclaration de cette ministre et l’absence de réactions officielles immédiates conduisent, hélas, à se poser des questions.

En 2012, les descendants de ces « nègres » dont certains auraient, selon la ministre, été favorables à leur propre déshumanisation, à leur propre martyre, à leur propre génocide, ont majoritairement porté François Hollande à la présidence de la République, espérant que le nouveau quinquennat permettrait de contribuer à éradiquer le racisme, à donner plus de sens au mot « fraternité », espérant que les promesses électorales - suppression immédiate du mot « race » de la constitution, création d’un centre de mémoire pour les descendants d’esclaves - seraient honorées.

Beaucoup se sont interrogés durant ce quinquennat. Et pas seulement lorsque François Hollande l’inaugurait en déposant une gerbe pour honorer Jules Ferry, l’homme qui déclarait à la chambre des députés : "Messieurs, il faut parler plus haut et plus vrai ! Il faut dire ouvertement qu’en effet les races supérieures ont un droit vis-à-vis des races inférieures. Je répète qu’il y a pour les races supérieures un droit, parce qu’il y a un devoir pour elles. Elles ont le devoir de civiliser les races inférieures. »

Le 10 mai 2015, Manuel Valls s’est publiquement déclaré favorable à l’ouverture d’un centre Dumas à Paris, dans les locaux vacants de l’hôtel Gaillard, place du général-Catroux (17e), là où, tous les ans, l’esclavage est dignement commémoré. Pas une cabane bambou, ni un centre commercial. Non, un lieu de culture, de mémoire et d’histoire pour combattre l’ignorance et le déni. Un endroit qui empêcherait les ministres de faire des « fautes de langage ».

Manuel Valls a prôné un dialogue avec la banque de France, propriétaire des lieux. La banque de France, institution portée sur les fonts baptismaux de l’esclavage en 1800 par une poignée de négriers.

Certains se sont étonnés que le nouveau gouverneur de la banque de France, nommé par le Président de la République, après s’être déclaré incompétent, ait déclaré que la banque de France n’avait rien à voir avec l’esclavage et que l’hôtel Gaillard, grâce à des fonds publics, serait affecté à un musée à la gloire de la finance, destiné aux élèves collèges et des lycées, dirigé par le frère de M. Strauss-Kahn.

Glorification de la finance, accusations portées contre les « nègres » d’avoir été « pour l’esclavage » : est-ce donc là le bilan de ces quatre années où, de manière rituelle, le président de la République, presque tous les 10 mai, derrière les grilles closes du jardin du Luxembourg, semblait pourtant considérer que l’esclavage fut un crime et que les victimes ne doivent pas être confondues avec les bourreaux ?

Laurence Rossignol a parlé de « faute de langage ». Plus qu’une faute, les propos qu’elle a tenus sont peut-être une erreur, une très grave erreur politique.

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30 mars 2016 3 30 /03 /mars /2016 11:00
Et les Belges lavèrent les fesses de Charlie...

Récupéré sur les réseaux sociaux;..

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Published by Gri-Gri International - dans 100 Commentaires
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30 mars 2016 3 30 /03 /mars /2016 07:30
 
31 mars 2011 - Yamoussoukro – Cote d’Ivoire. Philippe Rémond Gabriel Hervé, ressortissant français jugé proche du Président Laurent Gbagbo, est retrouvé assassiné (égorgé) dans sa chambre d’hôtel à Yamoussoukro, ville tombée sous le contrôle des forces rebelles d’Alassane Dramane Ouattara trois jours auparavant.
 

Article initialement mis en ligne en mai 2013

 
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Published by Ben Soumahoro grégory Protche dr www.legrigriinternational.com www.nouveaucourrier.net - dans Côte d'Ivoire - Élections 2010 Devoir d'histoire Francophonie Françafrique
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28 mars 2016 1 28 /03 /mars /2016 10:22
#Congo / Sassou le vainqueur lance sa milice Ninja, comme s'il avait perdu...

Après sa brillante réélection, Denis Sassou Nguesso
crée une milice gouvernemental
e…

Le 25 mars dernier, au journal de 20 heures, Télé Congo, la télévision nationale, officialisait la création d’une milice gouvernementale. Quel besoin pour le Président congolais de créer un tel groupe paramilitaire ? Pourquoi craint-il des troubles dans le pays puisqu’il a été réélu au premier tour avec plus de 60% des suffrages, selon la Commission Nationale électorale « indépendante » ? Douterait- de sa victoire ?

La télévision congolaise est un monument, hormis peut-être la Corée du Nord, peu de pays dans le monde peuvent se targuer d’avoir un tel organe de propagande. Le journal de 20 heures est un cas d’école pour les apprentis dictateurs : après s’être félicité de l’élection du candidat-Président et salué une Nouvelle République ; après avoir encensé le programme de Denis Sassou Nguesso, la télévision nationale est passée aux choses sérieuses.

L’ex Cobra, nouveau chef de milice

Le reportage montre un commando paramilitaire filmé dans un coin de forêt avec des hommes aux mines patibulaires tout de noir vêtus. Leur chef s’exprime sur un ton martial et déclare qu’ils défendront le pays, le peuple et la Nouvelle République contre tous les éléments séditieux qui souhaitent le désordre au Congo. La menace clairement exprimée s’adresse à tous les candidats de l’opposition et à leur coordonateur Charles Zacharie Bowao. Ce groupe se déclare comme les Nouveaux Patriotes. En réalité, il n’y a rien de vraiment nouveau puisque l’homme qui s’exprime, Hidevert Mouani est un ancien chef des Cobras, milice pro-Denis Sassou Nguesso lors de la guerre de 1997 qui combattait les Ninjas du Président Pascal Lissouba. Après la guerre, Hidevert Mouani est devenu un honorable député de la nation, mais en coulisse, il est toujours resté un homme de main du Président congolais. Après ce reportage menaçant, suit une déclaration, qui se veut tout aussi martiale, d’un certain Tanguy, ancien Ninja repenti et reconverti dans la défense de la Nouvelle République de Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Une stratégie de la tension et de l’irresponsabilité

Bien évidemment, ces annonces volontairement dramatiques sont destinées à effrayer les Congolais. Elles rappellent les sinistres souvenirs de la guerre de 1997, qui avait fait 400 000 morts, afin de dissuader les Congolais de soutenir l’opposition et de manifester pour faire respecter les résultats des urnes. Elles créent une psychose dans le pays et obéissent à une stratégie de la tension. Mais cette déclaration officielle de la recomposition d’une milice n’est pas seulement un exercice de pure communication. Denis Sassou Nguesso dispose d’une force publique officielle en nombre, armée, police et gendarmerie sont en outre bien organisées. A priori le Président n’a donc pas besoin de ce genre de supplétifs. Pour l’instant, il procède chaque jour à des arrestations arbitraires, à des pillages de QG de campagne des candidats, à des menaces et des intimidations qui ne sont pas ou que très mollement dénoncés par la communauté internationale. Il espère qu’il pourra garder le pouvoir à la manière de Pierre Nkurunziza, Président du Burundi qui reste au pouvoir malgré toutes les exactions qu’il commet dans son pays. Mais il anticipe aussi les troubles et une réaction plus forte de la diplomatie internationale. Dans ce cas, cette milice sera chargée du sale boulot et exonérera Denis Sassou Nguesso de ses responsabilités légales. Ainsi, il pourra dire : « ni responsable, ni coupable. » Cependant, il a commis l’erreur d’officialiser la milice d’Hidevert Mouani au journal de 20 heures, personne n’ignore désormais que ce groupe paramilitaire est aux ordres du pouvoir.

TEXTE : Justine Okimi

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27 mars 2016 7 27 /03 /mars /2016 10:08
#ProcèsDeLaHonte / DVD du show de Sam l'Africain à la CPI en vente à Abidjan (#100Commentaires #FreeGbagbo)

Photo dénichée sur les réseaux sociaux le 19 mars 2016, date possible de la mise en circulation de l'objet.

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26 mars 2016 6 26 /03 /mars /2016 11:04
#Congo / #Sassou ferait passer #Staline pour un guitariste (#Mabanckou)

SOURCE

Le Point : Que savez-vous de la situation sur place ? Êtes-vous en relation directe avec vos proches sur place ?

Alain Mabanckou : Comme la plupart de mes compatriotes vivant à l'étranger, j'ai souffert de la décision unilatérale et incompréhensible des autorités congolaises de bloquer les moyens de communication, comme si nous étions en Corée du Nord ou en Chine. J'avais le sentiment qu'il ne s'agissait pas d'une élection présidentielle, mais de la réunion d'une société occulte… C'est d'autant plus dommageable que les Béninois viennent de nous donner une vraie leçon de démocratie. Et je félicite le Béninois Lionel Zinsou qui a applaudi son concurrent et reconnu la victoire de celui-ci ! Le Bénin compte presque 11 millions d'habitants, cela leur a pris à peine une journée et demie pour compter (en toute transparence) les voix tout en tenant les citoyens au courant de l'avancement des décomptes. Au Congo-Brazzaville, avec moins de 4 millions d'habitants, cela a pris quatre jours et dans les ténèbres les plus absolues – téléphone, radio et réseaux sociaux coupés – au point de ne pas avoir besoin de sortir de Science Po ou de l'École des Mines pour comprendre que des mains invisibles essayaient de retourner les choses à leur avantage. Les Béninois nous avaient appris autrefois la pêche sur l'océan Atlantique, à Pointe-Noire, je les supplie de nous apprendre aussi les règles de la démocratie…

Vous aviez dénoncé les pratiques du président Sassou-Nguesso dès le référendum qui lui a permis de se représenter : qu'attendiez-vous de ce scrutin ?

J'étais en effet opposé à la révision inopportune et suspecte de la Constitution, une révision que ne souhaitait d'ailleurs pas le peuple congolais. On ne change pas les règles du jeu pendant que se déroule un match. Je suis juriste de formation et je sais que la Constitution est une affaire du peuple, parce que seul celui-ci peut décider des grandes règles qui fondent la nation. Cette étrange Constitution était taillée sur mesure pour l'actuel président dans le but de se succéder à lui-même après des décennies de pouvoir. Le spectacle actuel montre que je n'avais pas tort. Si au moins le peuple était informé de l'avancement de l'élection et que les résultats n'étaient pas annoncés en catimini, nous serions aujourd'hui dans un autre dialogue, et le président Sassou-Nguesso serait sorti vainqueur quelle que soit la configuration, puisque, même dans sa défaite, il serait alors apparu comme celui qui assurait la transition démocratique, le passage d'une génération à une autre. Pourquoi cacher au monde entier l'expression de tout un peuple ? Mieux encore, pourquoi fermer la porte à clé et éteindre la lumière au risque d'être pris pour celui qui voudrait cacher ses turpitudes ? Cette élection est par conséquent louche, frappée de petite vérole dans la mesure où le peuple a eu l'impression que dans cette nuit, dans ces ténèbres où tous les chats étaient gris, des ombres maléfiques besognaient, remuaient les choses pour nous imposer, à l'aube, un verdict qui ne correspond pas du tout au climat général et actuel du pays : un désir de changement politique depuis le sommet jusqu'à la base.

Rien ne vous surprend donc dans le résultat final ?

Je connais ce pays. Il est dans ma chair. Je le respire. Je le sens à chaque battement de mon cœur. Il est impossible, dans l'état présent des divisions claniques et ethniques, qu'un des huit candidats puisse l'emporter dès le premier tour ! Le Congo fonctionne encore sur un vote « régional », voire ethnique. Et, naturellement, il est inimaginable qu'un candidat ayant déjà cumulé 32 ans au pouvoir puisse réaliser cet exploit colossal qui ferait passer Staline pour un guitariste accompagnateur d'un bar de la banlieue brazzavilloise ! Après trente-deux ans, il y a forcément une usure du pouvoir. Souvenez-vous qu'en France l'usure du pouvoir était une des raisons qui avaient conduit à la suppression du septennat renouvelable. Quatorze ans, c'était beaucoup, et le peuple français était exténué ! Mais, au Congo, nous parlons de 32 ans !

Pensez-vous que l'appel à la révolte de l'opposant Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko sera suivi ?

Je ne suis pas un partisan de la violence. Cela mettrait en danger la jeunesse congolaise, avec ce que cela implique comme conséquences en temps de guerre : veufs, orphelins, viols, refugiés, famine, terreur, etc. L'opposition n'avait qu'à ne pas participer à ces élections puisqu'elle savait dès le départ qu'elles seraient problématiques. Ce n'est pas au peuple de souffrir de cette situation, de se lancer dans une guerre civile. Ce peuple n'a pas les mêmes moyens et n'a pas le soutien de la communauté internationale.

Redoutez-vous une insurrection civile ?

Il faut être conscient que mon pays traverse une crise pétrolière, qu'il a déjà essuyé deux guerres civiles à cause de l'or noir et que le peuple congolais n'a jamais, mais jamais, profité de cette manne. J'ai du mal à croire que le président Sassou et son entourage seront tout d'un coup habités par l'Esprit-Saint et se consacreront de manière désintéressée au bien-être du peuple congolais en lui construisant des routes, des écoles, des infrastructures sanitaires, des nouvelles technologies, des sites culturels, etc. Dans mon pays, on ne pense jamais à laisser une trace à la postérité…

Dans quelle mesure peut-on parler de liberté de la presse, je pense à l'agression de nos confrères français sur place ?

Si vos confrères du Monde et de l'AFP ont été agressés (avec une confiscation de passeports et de matériels), il est difficile de s'imaginer que les journalistes congolais, réduits désormais à chanter la messe du dimanche même pendant les jours de la semaine, exerceraient sans s'inquiéter leur métier. Récemment, d'ailleurs, plusieurs intellectuels congolais sont partis à l'étranger, dans des pays d'Afrique ou d'Europe.

Puisque vous êtes aussi français, comment regardez-vous l'attitude de la France face à Denis Sassou-Nguesso ?

À l'automne dernier, souvenez-vous, le président François Hollande avait publiquement validé – sans doute par manque de sens géopolitique africain – le changement arbitraire de la Constitution congolaise lors d'une conférence de presse avec le président malien. C'est cette même Constitution, validée par le président français, qui a finalement permis à Sassou-Nguesso de se représenter après trente-deux ans au pouvoir. Certes, François Hollande s'était vite rétracté par la suite, mais le mal était déjà fait et avait même ouvert la voie à un parti nationaliste français qui s'était immiscé dans le débat congolais. J'étais d'ailleurs navré de remarquer que certains de mes compatriotes épousaient ces dires populistes de dernière minute d'un parti plutôt porté par un élan de nostalgie coloniale. Que ce soit au sujet du Congo ou d'autres pays africains, la France, ces dernières années, a fait preuve d'une grande méconnaissance politique du continent noir.

Est-ce la dernière heure de ce président ?

Tôt ou tard, le jour de l'addition arrivera, car l'éternité est une idée de fakir et de moine, pour reprendre la formule de Jean-Paul Sartre dans Les Mains sales. Le peuple burkinabè a su s'insurger dans la discipline héritée du leader panafricain Thomas Sankara. Il est descendu dans la rue pour renverser un pouvoir qui perdurait depuis plus de vingt ans et pour élire démocratiquement un nouveau chef d'État. En définitive, je dirais que je rêve que le peuple congolais ne verse plus de sang, qu'il se souvienne que Thomas Sankara avait pour modèle le président congolais Marien Ngouabi, assassiné en 1977. « Quand le peuple se met debout, l'impérialisme tremble », clamait alors Thomas Sankara aux États-Unis, à Harlem, le 3 octobre 1984.

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25 mars 2016 5 25 /03 /mars /2016 19:43
#CongoSassou / En vrai, Mokoko a gagné, devant Kolélas et Salissa...

Denis Sassou Nguesso élu ?

Que se passe-t-il au Congo Brazzaville ? La presse occidentale est muette sur ce sujet et le peu d’information en provenance de ce pays ne correspondent pas à la réalité.

Congo Brazzaville, Corée du Nord : même combat

Le premier tour de l’élection présidentielle a eu lieu le 20 mars 2016. Ce jour là, les communications téléphoniques et Internet ont été coupées afin d’empêcher l’opposition de collecter les résultats et pour que les Congolais ne communiquent pas entre eux. Ces manœuvres se sont poursuivies pendant quatre jours jusqu’à la proclamation dans la nuit de mercredi à jeudi de la victoire par un coup KO de Denis Sassou Nguesso. Ces procédés dignes d’une dictature ordinaire conviennent à la communauté internationale, qui pourtant est habituée à se gargariser avec les grands principes des droits de l’homme et de la démocratie, puisque jusqu’à cette heure aucun pays n’a réagit.

Le candidat-Président au fond de la classe

Comme tous les Congolais, les ambassades présentes à Brazzaville connaissent les vrais résultats. Le général Mokoko arrive en tête, talonné par Parfait Kolélas, suivi par Okombi Salissa, Denis Sassou Nguesso prend donc la quatrième place derrière ces trois opposants. Les partisans du candidat-Président le savent et c’est pourquoi l’auto-proclamation de leur champion n’a donné lieu à aucune scène de liesse. A Brazzaville comme à Pointe Noire et dans toutes les grandes villes, l’annonce de cette victoire a été considérée par tous, partisans comme opposants, comme une déclaration de guerre. Les Congolais se barricadent, personne ne se rend au travail, beaucoup sont partis au village, la ville tourne au ralenti.

Un pays au bord de l’explosion

A Pointe Noire, des incidents ont eu lieu dans les quartiers le jeudi 24 mars. La veille dans la capitale, la police a envoyé des gaz lacrymogène et a tiré en l’air dans le QG de Parfait Kolélas. Affolés, les jeunes partisans de cet opposant ont traversé la rivière toute proche pour s’enfuir, un adolescent qui ne savait pas nager est mort noyé. Les journalistes du Monde et de l’AFP ont été agressés et seul Washington a publié un communiqué condamnant cette agression. La France, elle s’est contentée de demander des explications. Denis Sassou Nguesso organise le verrouillage du Congo, aucune information ne doit sortir pour qu’il puisse réaliser son coup d’Etat électoral sans protestation. La conférence de presse prévue par l’opposition le vendredi 25 mars a été empêchée par un important dispositif militaire. Une centaine de personnes ont été arrêtés dans les rues du quartier où devait se tenir cette conférence. Pour l’instant, le procédé fonctionne mais jusqu’à quand ? La jeunesse est sur le pied de guerre et veut en découdre, pourtant elle sait ce que cela peut lui coûter, lors du référendum, elle en avait fait les frais. Les jours à venir seront décisifs.

Texte : Justine Okimi

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24 mars 2016 4 24 /03 /mars /2016 09:39
#Gabon / 800 000 Gabonais Economiquement Faibles...et Ali peut faire pire !



Huit cent mille. C’est le nombre de Gabonais qui se sont fait enregistrer au titre de « Gabonais Economiquement Faible (GEF)» en 2016. Paul Biyoghe Mba, le ministre des Affaires sociales en a fait l’annonce, un peu malgré lui, lors de la concertation gouvernement patronat de la semaine dernière, dans un grand hôtel du nord de Libreville.

Sur la base du dernier recensement de la population gabonaise qui indique que le Gabon compte 1,8 million d’habitants, c’est près de 45% de sa population qui vit avec moins de 80 000 FCFA par mois. Les GEF étant définis par les pouvoirs publics sur ce critère. Un échec pour la mise en œuvre des politiques publiques. Ce nombre risque malheureusement de grimper au regard des nombreux plans sociaux qui sont annoncées par les entreprises de la place, et le risque réel pour beaucoup d’entre elles de faire faillite. Nombreux sont ceux qui vont se retrouver à la suite de cela avec moins de 80 000 FCFA par mois.

C’est un chiffre qui se présente comme un démenti de toute la propagande éhontée à laquelle se livre actuellement le pouvoir pour essayer de vanter « le bilan social » d’Ali Bongo Ondimba. Surtout qu’entre 2015 et 2016, ce nombre s’est accru de 250 000 personnes. Une situation qui n’étonne guère. Même si le très politicien Paul Biyoghe Mba ne veut y voir que « des inscriptions frauduleuses ». Non seulement pour des raisons liées à la précampagne électorale en faveur d’Ali Bongo Ondimba, le très émergent professeur Mboussou, directeur général de la Caisse nationale d’assurance maladie et de garantie sociale (CNAMGS), a entrepris d’aller au contact des GEF dans tous les coins reculés du Gabon pour les enregistrer. Avec sans doute l’idée que, ces personnes se souviendraient le moment venu d’Ali Bongo Ondimba. Il ne savait pas que cet activisme militant allait plutôt renvoyer aux yeux du monde entier «l’écosystème réel » de la pauvreté au Gabon. Mettant ainsi au grand jour l’une des conséquences dramatiques de la gouvernance d’Ali Bongo Ondimba depuis sept ans.

D’autre part, Paul Biyoghe Mba, dans sa démonstration erronée, veut occulter les effets réels de la crise économique qui a frappé durement le Gabon en 2015, alors qu’il sait très bien qu’elle a conduit plusieurs milliers d’individus au chômage. Le premier réflexe de tous ceux qui se sont retrouvés du jour au lendemain sans aucun revenu, a été de prendre le statut de GEF. La fraude est plutôt du côté de celui qui veut nier cette réalité.

Le pouvoir a ainsi devant lui un chiffre choc, issu de ses propres investigations qu’il aura du mal à dissimuler. Il traduit mieux que n’importe quel discours l’échec des politiques publiques menées depuis sept ans. On comprend que Paul Biyoghe Mba, le futur directeur de campagne d’Ali Bongo Ondimba, si par extraordinaire ce dernier arrivait à régler la question de sa filiation avec Omar Bongo, croit très sérieusement que « ce chiffre peut être réduit d’un tiers » en retranchant « les inscriptions frauduleuses ». C’est sans doute ce qu’il va s’employer à faire en tant que ministre des Affaires sociales et habitué au « trucage des chiffres ». Mais cela ne changera rien à la réalité.

Même avec un tiers de personnes en moins, ce seront quand même près de 540 000 personnes qui seront considérées comme GEF, soit 30% de la population. Pour un pays qui a amassé près de 18 000 milliards entre 2010 et 2014, avec une population équivalente à celle d’un quartier de Yaoundé, Douala ou Brazzaville, c’est un triste record qui traduit l’incompétence et le caractère criminel des dirigeants gabonais. Puisqu’il est clair et établi que cette montagne de milliards de FCFA a plutôt été recyclée en fortune personnelle pour le chef de l’Etat à travers sa pieuvre Delta Synergie, autant pour les « profito-situationnistes». La démonstration en a été faite par Alexandre Barro Chambrier dans la déclaration du 27 juin du PDG Héritage et Modernité. Tout cela au détriment des Gabonais. C’est avec un tel boulet social qu’Ali Bongo Ondimba veut s’initier à « l’égalité des chances ». Autant dire un pari perdu d’avance. Au rythme de 250 000 GEF enregistré en un an, 99% de la population du Gabon pourrait bien prendre ce statut en 2020 s’il parvenait par miracle à se maintenir au pouvoir, car, leur avenir n’a jamais été et ne sera jamais en confiance. Il faut que les Gabonais en soient conscients.

TEXTE : SYA

In Echos du Nord n° 329

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Published by Gri-Gri International Echos du Nord - dans Gabon 2011 Politique Economie Francophonie Françafrique
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23 mars 2016 3 23 /03 /mars /2016 10:35
#USDepartmentOfState / Presidential Elections in the Republic of Congo

Press Statement

John Kirby
Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs

Washington, DC

March 21, 2016

The United States congratulates the Congolese people for their active participation in the March 20 presidential elections. Their enthusiasm and determination to register to vote and peacefully engage, despite many impediments, demonstrates their commitment to democracy.

We note numerous reports of irregularities that have raised concerns about the credibility of the process, including the media blackout during the polls, an imbalanced and restrictive media environment, significant disparity in access to state resources, a short timeframe for electoral preparations, and restrictions on freedoms of expression, communication, and association in the pre-election period. We urge Congolese authorities to restore communications and to complete the electoral process with accuracy, credibility, fairness, and transparency.

As the vote tallying continues, the United States urges the Congolese people to remain patient and avoid speculation. We ask all political leaders to renounce violence, call upon their supporters to remain calm, and seek to resolve any differences peacefully in accordance with existing laws and procedures.

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22 mars 2016 2 22 /03 /mars /2016 08:46
#GbagboCase / When international justice becomes arbitrary (#ICC #ProcèsDeLaHonte #FreeGbagbo)

By Nicoletta Fagiolo

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Since 2011, Former President of Côte d'Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo has been under arrest and held in The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity. His former Minister of Youth Charles Blé Goudé has been incarcerated since March 2014. The International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted the two under the pretext of bringing justice to the post-colonial country following a post-electoral crisis in 2011. But a series of oversights, blunders and ambiguous judicial procedures could leave the ICC marred for skewed politics and arbitrary jabs at justice. Nicoletta Fagiolo looks at the ‘Asymetrical’ approach of the ICC in its trial vs. Ivorian leaders Gbagbo and Blé Goudé.

Two and a half weeks into the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) most high-profile case to date, the trial of former President of Côte d'Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo and Minister of Youth and Employment Charles Blé Goudé [1], talk of a politically motivated trial is already underway.


“There is nothing serious against Gbagbo, it’s political pressure coming from France and I can do nothing,” ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reportedly told Central African Republic presidential candidate Pascal Bida Koyagbele. According to South African columnist on foreign affairs Shannon Ebrahim, in her article “French Hand in Gbagbo's Fall” [2], Bensouda’s comment was as recent as October 2015, just three months before the trial began.

It is estimated that the prosecution alone costs between 4 to 8 million euros a year just for this trial, said investigative journalist Fanny Pigeaud, 60% of which comes from EU taxpayers’ pockets.

Two very specific cases bring into question the ICC and it’s suspected role as a body that enables incumbent African leaders to remove political opponents. One is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Joseph Kabila was ushered into power in 2011, following the 2008 arrest of his opponent Jean-Pierre Bemba. Another is in Kenya, where the Prime Minister Raila Odinga hoped to profit from an ICC indictment against Uhuru Kenyatta, his opponent in the presidential elections, and win the elections. Eventually the ICC dropped charges against Kenyatta in December 2014 due to a lack of sufficient evidence.

In the case against Gbagbo and Blé Goudé, the crimes that the charges hinge on were allegedly carried out during the five-month period following the country’s contested November 2010 elections, during which incumbent President Gbagbo ran against his opponent and current President Alassane Ouattara. The prosecution accuses both Gbagbo and Blé Goudé of four counts of crimes against humanity, including ordering murder and rape. These charges carry terms of life imprisonment. Gbagbo and Blé Goudé have pleaded not guilty to the accusations of orchestrating “unspeakable violence”.

Following the November 2010 elections, Côte d'Ivoire was saddled with two presidents. Gbagbo was publically sworn in on 4 December 2010 in the Presidential Palace in front of the country’s major institutions - from the army to the judiciary, trade unions and traditional leaders, other constitutional bodies, politicians, bishops and affiliates. The army Chief of Staff, Philippe Mangou, and other generals, also present at Gbagbo’s inauguration, swore allegiance to Gbagbo on national television the previous day.

In contrast, current President Ouattara was declared victorious by the head of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), Youssouf Bakayoko, on 2 December 2010. In a closed meeting at the Golf Hotel, Ouattara’s campaign headquarters as well as a stronghold of the rebel presence in Abidjan, the French and American ambassadors looked on as the supposed exit polls were broadcast on French TV. The CEI, mandated by the Ivorian Constitution to only declare the provisional results, had however already surpassed its deadline. Bakayoko seeking protection subsequently fled to France as Ouattara wrote a letter to the Constitutional Council claiming victory.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Côte d'Ivoire Young-jin Choi endorsed Ouattara’s victory on the afternoon of 3 December 2010, just two hours after the Constitutional Council had declared the Hotel Golf results null. Meanwhile, at the UN Security Council in New York, a five-day standoff began over the adoption of a resolution. The US Permanent Representative to the UN Susan Rice pushed for non-recognition of Gbagbo’s representatives, claiming them as illegitimate. At the same time, the Russian delegate maintained Gbagbo’s representatives were valid.

As early as 3 December 2010 two French deputies, Socialist Party François Loncle and Henri Emmanuelli, released a press statement declaring "a smear campaign directed exclusively at the Ivorian authorities and a denigration campaign of suspicion orchestrated by the majority of French media.” [3] The brief reports from news agencies worldwide, however, repeated only one story ad nauseum: Gbagbo lost the elections in November 2010, but was reportedly clinging to power. It is this version, although contested by a wide range of evidence at the time and further supported by evidence published since then, which prevails to this day.

According to Bensouda, a campaign of violence was launched by Gbagbo and youth leader Blé Goudé, after Gbagbo had allegedly lost the elections to Ouattara. Thus Gbagbo according to Bensouda, despite being sworn in as President on the 4th of December by the country’s Constitutional Council, was an illegitimate president unwilling to step down, and who had also orchestrated a “common plan” with an “inner circle” to remain in power at all costs. This “inner circle” is allegedly made up of the state’s entire security apparatus — the Forces de Défense et de Sécurité (“FDS”), comprising of the National Armed Forces of Côte d’Ivoire, the Gendarmerie, the Republican Guard, the Security Operations Command Centre and the state police, all of which had sworn allegiance to Gbagbo. The prosecution alleges that the plan was conceived as early as 2000, when Gbagbo was first elected.

The defence countered in their opening statement on 1 February that the country’s Constitutional Council, which has the last word on election certification by law, declared Gbagbo the legitimate winner. This conclusion, they emphasized, was drawn after taking into account certified and attested acts of serious violence by rebels in the northern area they controlled.

Multiple electoral observers reported serious human rights violations in the rebel-held territory. In the northern city of Bouaké one foreign observer recalls, “all the EU observers left two days after the first round and never came back” [4]. Seventeen out of 120 EU election observers were evacuated for fear of their life, all from the rebel controlled areas in the north, although a UN report mistakenly states they were evacuated from the south.

Ouattara remained in the Golf Hotel as these provisional results were endorsed by Choi on December 3, although not yet by the UN Security Council (UNSC), which only declared Ouattara winner on the 8th of December 2010 after intense US and French lobbying.

"You are the legitimate winner once the Constitutional Council declares you the winner" former Ivorian Ambassador to the UN Alcide Djédjé recently reiterated. Djédjé also accuses Choi, of having "exceeded his authority" during the November 2010 presidential election in the country.

The UN’s mandate “was not to say who won or did not win the elections," noted Djédjé, but the Special Representative of the UN was to just confirm whether elections were held in accordance with the Ivorian constitution [5].

In a closed-door video conference held with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) from Abuja, Choi himself admitted he was supposed to “certify results, not name a winner”. “Choi acknowledged as much”, said Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative Konstantin Dolgov to Inner City Press on 7 December 2010.

A complaint was recently filed in Canada against Choi for certifying those electoral results, thus bypassing his mandate. At the time Djédjé threatened to expel Choi for rejecting the country’s Constitutional Council’s recognition of Gbagbo’s 51% run-off victory over Ouattara’s 49%. The US-led UNSC never convened the Security Council over the rejection. At 5:15 pm that same 3 December 2010, the US Mission to the UN emailed a copy of a statement by US President Obama hailing Ouattara as the winner and calling on Gbagbo to respect the result. Mathew Lee from Inner City Press asks: “So has Barak Obama become the Security Council? What explains the Council's failure to meet, and failure to even issue a press statement?” [6].

Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa who was visiting Côte d'Ivoire in December 2010, concluded in his mission report that the elections could not be considered valid. In his article What the World Got Wrong on Côte d'Ivoire, he recalls how the US ambassador in Abidjan, Wanda L. Nesbitt, had already warned her government in 2009 that without some basic requirements fulfilled – a territorial and fiscal reunification of the country, the return of the national administration to the north, and especially the total disarmament of the rebellion, the Forces Nouvelles, entrenched in the north since 2002 – no democratic elections could be held.

Gbagbo called for a ballot recount in December 2010 — a demand that went unheeded by Ouattara, as well as international bodies. Gbagbo requested that the UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI) and the post-2008 UN-mandated French Licorne force leave the country on 18 of December.

The case against Gbagbo pivots critically on the validity of his election and the acts he allegedly perpetrated or directed during the following period. Despite serious doubts as who actually won these elections, the first glaring discrepancy of this trial is that Bensouda, and also her predecessor, whom she replaced in 2012, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, declared that the trial will not look into the elections, but only focus on the post-electoral events. That decision begins the trial under the assumption that Ouattara lawfully won the elections.

To date the ICC judges have turned away from examining the electoral issue, raising a question over the court’s approach to due process.

A similar divergence from legal logic was demonstrated by the International Tribunal for Rwanda when it decided to exclusively accuse the country’s Hutu population of “genocide” during the country’s bloody conflict that left 800,000 dead. During proceedings, the Tribunal avoided at all costs looking into who had shot down the plane of Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, the event that, according to the Court itself, was responsible for spurring the “genocide”. Arusha left a legacy of a judicial nightmare, which will, at the least, leave future researchers on international justice speechless as to the amount of procedural abuse inflicted on its detainees. This grave shortcoming was largely possible due to this initial flaw in context analyses [7].

The second major, striking deviation of this trial also concerns a lack of historical context analyses by the prosecution. Lead defence attorney Emmanuel Altit told the court that “it’s as if one is asked to judge the major events of the Korean war while omitting the American and Chinese armies” as he addressed the three-judge bench on 1 February 2016. Accusing the prosecutor of omitting the major protagonists of the recent Ivorian history, Altit is referring to the rebels that Ouattara had armed. The court was shown a video of a Force Nouvelles rebel warlord speaking to a crowd of followers and thanking Ouattara for supplying them with weapons. Altit also points to the role played by the French army, as well as the UN operation, ONUCI, in ousting Gbagbo.

The ICC trial can only be a viable scientifically legal exercise if the events are placed in their historical context. “Paris intervened not for humanitarian reasons, but also for geopolitical interests, as in Libya. The operation of the Elysée worked so well that French citizens have little understanding of what happened in Côte d'Ivoire, so little that Sarkozy boasted a few years later. ‘We took Laurent Gbagbo out and installed Alassane Ouattara, without any controversy, nothing’. Will the ICC judges be able to sort out fact from fiction?”, asks French journalist and author of France Côte d’Ivoire, a truncated history, Fanny Pigeaud.

Altit countered on 1 February 2016 that there had been a deliberate campaign orchestrated since 2000 to make Gbagbo “out to be some kind of demon” and “paint Ouattara as the good guy.” Former French diplomat Laurent Bigot, on 2 February 2016, told the French daily newspaper Le Monde that, “in 2010, I was Deputy Director for West Africa at the Foreign Ministry. This is not a position that allows me to judge the innocence or guilt of the protagonists of the crisis, but just to testify. It is no secret that for the French, Gbagbo and the Ivorian national army represented the Evil side, whereas Ouattara and the Force Nouvelles (then Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire, FRCI) were the good guys.” [8]

Altit underlined that not a single person of French nationality has been called to testify at the ICC, despite the proven knowledge of French involvement and thus the usefulness to hear their point of view. “How can we judge a conflict whose protagonists are concealed,” Altit asked, “and who, most importantly, are these rebels?”

Gbagbo, broadly held as the father of Ivorian democracy, did engage in a conflict and there were civilian victims. Yet he was fighting a well-structured rebel body, the Forces Nouvelles (New Forces), which had been attacking his government since 2001 and had occupied the northern part of the country, splitting it in two since 2002.

These same rebels were behind the destabilization attempts in Côte d’Ivoire since the 1999 coup organized against President Henrie Konan Bedié, and were responsible for a series of attempted coups (September 2000, January 2001 and September 2002) that eventually split the country in two. The defence insists that Gbagbo's efforts in 2010-2011, in light of the rebel presence, become legitimate efforts to fend off an external aggression — one that, as of November 2010, ballooned into an international conflict.

The central, north and west regions (known as CNO) remained under rebel control until 17 March 2011, when Alassane Ouattara appointed them as a national military force. At that time they were renamed the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI). Alain Dogou, the country’s former defence minister, questioned the legality of this action. “It is exactly as if in Colombia, a pseudo administrative act transformed the FARC rebels, the same who had detained Ingrid Bentacourt for five years in the jungle, into the regular forces and the national army of Colombia (Fac) into a rebel movement,” he said [9].

The Ouattara backed Forces Nouvelles rebels are known to have committed extensively documented, terrible atrocities since 2002, on which Gbagbo had called the ICC to investigate as early as 2003. The level of coordination and planning, the infrastructure, and the weaponry available to the rebels all suggest a pattern of outside assistance which could qualify the attack as an international conflict as early as 2002. The state apparatus in the north collapsed as over a million people fled south, yet Gbagbo’s calls for an investigation went unheeded at the time.

Since then a warlord economy has reigned in the region, which continues to this day. Current President Ouattara has promoted many of these leading warlords (known as comzons) to key positions in the Ivorian security system. By not acknowledging this rebel coup d’état, an armed takeover is being indirectly legitimized by the ICC. The crime of aggression endorsed by universal customary law, unpunished, allows for the same aggression to continue with impunity.

Just months prior to the October 2015 Ivorian Presidential elections, a seminar was held by the Academy of Sciences, Arts, Cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora (ASCAD) in Abidjan. During the April 2015 seminar on Elections and violence in Côte d’Ivoire, Professor Ouraga Obou, a former member of the Ivorian Constitutional Council, called for a withdrawal of the dozos (the traditional hunters recruited by Ouattara into the Force Nouvelles army) from the state’s security apparatus and called for a consultation framework [10]. Signs of persistent insecurity and the lack of disarmament of these rebel-turned-national-army forces was one of the reasons for a wide spread boycott of the last elections, when Ouattara was re-elected according to the French Directorate of Military Intelligence with a 17% voter turnout. The Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), Gbagbo’s socialist party, by contrast, reported an 11% voter turnout due to the boycott. Guillaume Soro, head of the Force Nouvelles rebellion political arm since 2002 and current President of the National Assembly recently faced an arrest warrant for allegedly supporting an attempted coup d’état in neighbouring Burkina Faso.

Referring to the 11-day battle for the country’s economic capital that began on 31 March 2011, Altit told the court “Ouattara and his supporters wanted to seize power by force and the battle of Abidjan was, simply put, the very implementation of this strategy.” He further emphasised that “the plans for military action had been drawn up by the plotters and schemers in cooperation with French military leaders during the entire crisis”.

Investigative journalist and author of Abobo la Guerre Leslie Varenne, who was on the ground during the crucial crisis months, writes that various ONUCI sources spoke to her of a US-French plan. Known as “Operation restore peace and democracy”, the concept was concocted in December 2010 in Abidjan [11].

A Wikileaks cable dated 27 January 2011 shows a United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) West Africa OS analyst angered by a statement given to the Zambian press by Force Nouvelles leader Soro as early as 30 January 2011. Soro spoke of a commando raid to oust Gbagbo. The cable speaks for itself. “1) We probably should have reported that Soro was in Zambia. Did anyone else realize that?… 2) What kind of IDIOT openly broadcasts this in such detail?? When you were referencing these calls in your piece Mark, I was thinking back to when Ouattara was saying something along these lines…but this one is pretty airmailed.” [12]

The AFRICOM specialist is most probably referring to the interview Ouattara gave in January 2011 where he stated that preparations for a military intervention were under way and were a viable solution for the Ivorian electoral deadlock, thus bypassing the African Union’s call for a peaceful solution.

Varenne also points out that Ouattara’s statement was an official admission to breaching the UN arms embargo at the time, as a military solution would necessarily imply rearmament. Since few soldiers were defecting from the national army Ouattara had the only choice of quickly recruiting circa 25,000 mercenaries to constitute a military force, recalls Varenne.

Pierre Sané, former Amnesty International secretary general calls the military solution for a contested election “logic of the absurd.” [12] Jean Ziegler, member of the Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council in an interview in December 2015 called for the dropping of the charges against Laurent Gbagbo, a man of peace, stating “if Willy Brandt - who met Gbagbo while heading the Socialist International - had still been alive it would never have come to this.” [13]

Côte d’Ivoire was returning to normal life after the elections, despite the so-called disobedience campaigns funded with 150,000 euros set side by Ouattara. As he called people to take to the streets, the majority of the population ignored his rabble rousing. [14] A UN panel of experts as early as 2009 reported that northern Côte d’Ivoire was a “warlord economy”, and condemned the constant rearmament and recruitment of Forces Nouvelles via Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Senegal despite the arms embargo.

Two confidential letters published by investigative journalist Charles Onana in his bookFrance-Côte d’Ivoire, Coup d‘état in 2011 point to the international nature of the conflict. One from Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré to French President Sarkozy, on 24 March 2011. In the letter the former mediator in the Ivorian crisis, Compaoré, asks the French premier to intervene to oust Gbagbo. For Onana “its not normal that a member of ECOWAS asks for French military intervention in a neighbouring African country that is undergoing an electoral conflict” [15]. The other letter, dated 25 February 2011, is from former President Sarkozy to then Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who also held the rotating chair of ECOWAS at the time. Sarkozy says all is ready to oust Gbagbo and that someone must explain the crisis to [South African President] Jacob Zuma, so an emissary should be sent to South Africa. [15] Zuma, who was mandated at the time by the African Union as part of a high level Panel of Experts to act as mediators in the Ivorian crisis, was claiming Gbagbo had won the elections.

On 4 March 2011 Gbagbo attended a ceremony paying homage to 32 fallen soldiers of the FDS National Army, who had perished in battle fighting the rebellion just in the two preceding weeks. [16]
While the ICC trial focuses on the conflict in Abidjan, the struggle enveloped a large part of the country. The Forces Nouvelles rebels, starting 22 February 2011, descended across the country some 600 kilometres from the north onto Abidjan, breaking the 2003 ceasefire. Soro’s troops attacked from the western town of Danané and continued throughout many surrounding areas, including Bounta, Boyapleu, Téapleu, Zouan-Hounien, Bin-Bouyé, Toulépleu, Péhé. Cities, towns and villages were pillaged by the Forces Nouvelles combatants, as they desecrated the local population. Many residents fled in anticipation of, or immediately upon, the arrival of pro-Ouattara forces. Just 3,000 out of 50,000 inhabitants were left in the town of Toulépleu by the end of March, the International Red Cross reported.

On the 18 of March the Forces Nouvelles (turned Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire, FRCI) opened another two fronts: as they attacked Bloléquin in the west they began a southward invasion also from the centre and east. Daloa, the country’s third largest city in the west fell on 28 March to the rebel forces. Rebels reached the southern port of San Pedro, the largest exporter of cacao in the world, on 31 March. The eastern towns of Bandourou and Abengourou fell on the 29 March. Yamoussoukro, the county’s political capital in the centre of the country fell on 30 March. The massacre of Duékoué happened in this western city of approximately 180,000 inhabitants when it was invaded by rebels on March 27. The International Red Cross confirmed that Forces Nouvelles rebels killed up to 800 people on one single day — 29 March 2011. This tragic event that could help prosecutors put into context the threat Gbagbo was facing has not been mentioned in their indictment.

Just as in 2002, the pro-Ouattara fighters began a three-pronged assault that brought them swiftly to the country’s commercial capital and seat of power, Abidjan, within days.

“As combat waged in and around these towns throughout March, allegedly the Forces Nouvelles systematically targeted pro-Gbagbo civilians, despite repeated public announcements by Soro and Ouattara spokespersons that their fight was only against Gbagbo's armed forces,” reported Human Rights Watch. HRW however calls for both sides of the ‘conflict’ to be prosecuted. This stance, often repeated by mainstream media, is contrary to the international legal custom of criminalizing perpetrators breaking peace accords.

“The ICC rests on false assumptions, such as the figure of 3,000 killed in the aftermaths of the elections”, says Varenne. According to the European spokesperson for Gbagbo, Bernard Houdin, in an interview 29 January 2016 on French TV France 24, the figure of those killed in the crisis is likely to be pushing on 16,000. This figure is unreleased information from the Ivorian ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ report, a report Ouattara has refused to make public.

On 2 April 2011, a meeting was held at the Elysée French Presidential palace, says Varenne. French army chief of staff, Admiral [Édouard] Guillaud, special army chief of staff advisor to Nicolas Sarkozy, General [Benoît] Puga, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé and Gerard Longuet were all present for a ‘war council’ encounter on Côte d’Ivoire.

Reinforcements, including French special forces and the French Foreign Legion, were sent to Côte d’Ivoire, despite Juppé’s April 6 statement that, “French forces will not participate in a military operation as this would be violating the legal framework set by the 30 March 2011 UN resolution.” [17] Meanwhile, at the UN, India and Russia denounced the unauthorised “regime change policy” that France had undertaken.

“Five years of investigation to come to this form of failure,” Altit said addressing the three bench judges. “Five years to prepare a certain judicial catastrophe that some judges in the pre-trial chamber saw coming.”

In fact, in February 2013, the ICC pre-trial chamber heard evidence against Gbagbo to determine whether to confirm the charges against him. Gbagbo had already spent 16 months in detention at The Hague and seven in northern Côte d’Ivoire. In June 2013, a majority of pre-trial chamber judges found that the prosecution had failed to put forward enough evidence to support the charges. Instead of dismissing the case, the judges gave the prosecution more time to investigate.

Former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, said “any normal judge would have declared Gbagbo not guilty and released him”. Speaking in front of a crowd in 2015 at his African Leadership Institute, Mbeki slammed the ICC’s juridical decision, and furthermore, told a parallel story of how the ICC ended up bringing war, through an indictment, of a rebel leader Joseph Kony that broke down Ugandan peace talks instead of bringing peace to Uganda. It was the people of Uganda, who had opted for traditional courts that were side stepped and who suffered the consequences of conflict resuming. The same could end up happening in Côte d’Ivoire if Gbagbo is not freed. Mbeki cites a recent letter written by former President of Mozambique Joaquim Alberto Chissano on behalf of the Africa Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government to the ICC Prosecutor Bensouda. In it he calls for dropping the charges against Gbagbo, which at the pre-trial stage were already very doubtful, in the name of peace.

As eventually the charges against Gbagbo were confirmed in June 2014, one of the three judges, Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert, still filed a dissenting opinion. “There is no convincing evidence, in my opinion, to show that Laurent Gbagbo at any point agreed with his alleged ‘inner circle’ to commit crimes against innocent civilians,” wrote Van den Wyngaert in June 2014. “In addition, I am not persuaded by the available evidence that there are substantial grounds to believe that Laurent Gbagbo, either alone or in concert with one or more members of the alleged “inner circle”, used the forces at his disposal to intentionally commit crimes against civilians,” she wrote.

ICC prosecutors are focusing on four specific incidents (and a fifth incident, events in Yopougon on 25-28 February 2011, only for Blé Goudé) that allegedly took place during the five-month period before Gbagbo’s arrest in April 2011.

The first incident is the 16 December 2010 demonstration organized by Ouattara supporters calling for a new director at the national television station (RTI). A video recorded on December 15, 2010 in which rebel leader and prime minister in Ouattara’s government Soro tells men in military fatigues that he was ordered by Ouattara to go and install a new director-general of RTI the following day, and he would need them [the armed men] to ensure that is done, was screened in court by the Defence to show that there was no peaceful demonstration. In the same video, two men in military fatigues tell the other uniformed men that they do not need to add to what has been said, and the men should be ready to deploy the following day.

The “amateurish level of historical and political background knowledge at this ICC trial,” said Varenne in the article ‘The ICC: Chronicle of a Disaster’, leads to “the country’s history…reduced in the manner of a Wikipedia page,” by both the defence and the accusation. Varenne in Abobo la Guerre places the 16 December 2010 events in context: “it is a known almost cultural factor in Africa that to take over power one has to besiege the presidency and the national television.” Her investigations that day found Soro’s armed force carried out an armed attack against a SDF national army barricade at the “Carrefour de la Veuve.” Judge Van den Wyngaert in her 12 June 2014 dissenting opinion went into great detail and presented clear evidence disproving the accusation against Gbagbo for this incident. [18]

Incident two and three (a pro-Ouattara women’s demonstrations on 3 March 2011 where seven women died and the shelling of a market on 17 March) are both set in Abobo district of Abidjan — an area that was infiltrated as early as December 2010 by the so-called invisible commando. A pro-Ouattara militia, it is estimated by the country’s disarmament program that the invisible commando was made up of 7,786 combatants. By mid-March the entire Abobo district was under militia control. This urban-guerrilla movement repeatedly attacked the Ivorian national army bases and stole the weapons of slain security forces. “They even managed to get a hold of a tank”, remembers Varenne.

During the on-going trial, video evidence was screened by the defence, specifically showing a young man testifying that the police had asked that densely populated Abobo district be evacuated for safety. The prosecutor, instead, alleges that Gbagbo, like a mad dictator, “attacked the civilian population in an area known for being pro-Ouattara”.

Furthermore the defence pointed out that a national trial in Côte d’Ivoire acquitted the military officers who has been charged for the Abobo shelling. Thus the alleged direct perpetrators were acquitted in Côte d’Ivoire in 2015, yet the alleged indirect co-perpetrators, Gbagbo and Ble Goudé, are still charged for the incident at the ICC.

The last incident, which the prosecutor mentions, is an attack in Yopougon district that takes place after Gbagbo had been overthrown and had already ordered the army officially on television to stop fighting. While in detention in northern Côte d’Ivoire, Gbagbo continued to reiterate to a group of visiting global leaders known as the Elders, including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, that he had given orders to the army to stop fighting on 8 April 2011.

Flimsy evidence also supports Gbagbo’s alleged plan to stay in power at all costs. The defence maintains that the prosecutor actually altered punctuation in the original text of a 2010 speech by Gbagbo to a crowd of policemen. By doing so, the prosecutor was able to construct some form of accusation but putting words in Gbagbo’s mouth, which he never spoke.

The prosecutor alleges that a slogan used by Gbagbo during the election campaign in 2010, “I win or I win” was proof of Gbagbo’s wanting to remain in power. That same harmless slogan used to incriminate Gbagbo was appealing enough to encourage Ouattara’s wife, Dominique, to dance to it, the defence showed in a video. Cabinet meetings held by Gbagbo and his administration are also cited by the prosecution to demonstrate criminal intent, but the prosecutions notes of such meetings are completely void of incriminating content.

Gbagbo, a socialist, historian and the father of Ivorian democracy, spearheaded 40 years of non-violent struggle. Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Blé Goudé embraced non- violence as the heart of his actions. Ironically, he was widely known as ‘the Street General’. That term was not for his military prowess, but for his ability to mobilize large numbers of people onto the streets for huge pacifist marches. These demonstrations, a mains nues(unarmed), managed to abort an illegitimate takeover of the government by the foreign-backed rebellion, the Forces Nouvelles, in crucial moments of the country’s recent history.

Blé Goudé’s youth movement embodies one of the most extraordinary examples of non-violent resistance to date. When faced with extreme aggression, such as that by the French Licorne force in Abidjan in 2004, where 67 unarmed Ivorian demonstrators were shot dead and over 1,000 were injured, Blé Goudé called for restraint. Video evidence presented to the court on 2-3 February proves that no demonstrators were armed. The now 44-year old incarcerated Guibéroua-born NGO-founder asked the population to take to the streets, but to refrain from attacking anyone, especially French nationals living in the country. Stéphane Haumant who was filming for Canal + French television on the ground at the time confirmed that no demonstrators were armed. On 25 of March 2011, as the rebels were advancing from the north onto Abidjan, Blé Goudé held a two-day prayer sit in with a John Lennon-Yoko Ono-style mattress protest imploring for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

Despite this information Blé Goudé is frequently depicted as a “militia leader”. However, he called on crowds to stop “bandits” with their bare hands. French Licorne spokesperson Georges Peillon, with on-ground experience, also defined the Forces Nouvelles as “bandits”. [19]

On 3 February 2016, the lead lawyer of Blé Goudé’s defence team, Geert-Jan Alexander Knoops, compared the Blé Goudé case to American boxer, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who was wrongly imprisoned to 19 years in prison for murders he did not commit.

Video evidence presented by Knoops shows Blé Goudé receiving a delegation of rebel leaders in Gbagbo’s home town and later the two parties — the rebel and the government authorities — address a rally calling for peace. Blé Goudé launched a Caravan of Peace in 2007 calling for reconciliation. Again, Knoops shows video footage with Blé Goudé meeting with victims of rebel attacks. Another video clip showed Blé Goudé in an interview on state-owned television, RTI, in which he calls on the leaders of the main political parties to talk to each other for the sake of peace in Côte d’Ivoire.

On 3 February 2016 Blé Goudé’s defence lawyer, Claver N’Dry, accused ex-prosecutor Moreno Ocampo of impartiality. N’Dry points out that the Rome Statute, the backbone of the ICC, stipulates that the prosecutor can be disqualified if his impartiality might reasonably be doubted. As early as 21 December 2010, months before investigations were opened, Ocampo singled out Blé Goudé as a leader whose rhetoric could ignite violence and that, because of this, he could face charges at the ICC, N’Dry said. N’Dry continues, and asks why others who were calling for the violent overthrow of Gbagbo at the time were not scrutinized. It is a clear breach of the presumption of innocence.

Even the choice of terminology breaches the presumption of innocence. Most human rights reports today write “militia leader” instead of “militant” leader.

N’Dry, challenged the prosecution, underlining that it did not match the facts, but was built on a “faulty narrative”. He claimed the prosecution had been manipulated by certain political interests and selected media intent on the “manufacturing of enemies”, citing Pierre Conesa, a former senior official of the French Defence Ministry, expert on international strategic and military issues, and author of The Manufacturing of an Enemy, or How to Kill with a Clean Conscience.

Conesa said, “For if some enemies are real, others analyzed with hindsight, are surprisingly artificial”. N’Dry argued that belligerence can also be rooted in ideological constructions, perceptions or misconceptions and he will provide factual evidence during the trial to dispel them.

Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser, perhaps not catching the subtlety of N’Dry’s argument, said it was “wrong for N’Dry to accuse the prosecution of fabricating a case,” and that he “did not want it repeated”. Yet it is precisely the “rewriting of history” which the defence during the pre-trial hearing pointed out as one of the main weaknesses of the prosecutor’s accusations against Gbagbo and Blé Goudé. If one side is painting a militia leader and the other a non-violent leader, one a dictator and the other a democrat, then one of the two sides is necessarily weaving a faulty narrative to make his or her case.

Prosecutor Bensouda has sought no ballistic or forensic expertise to reinforce her evidence, which rests heavily on NGO and UN reports, as well as newspaper articles and witness testimonies, to date scientific juridical evidence is inexistent.

In a juridical system that follows due process the search for exculpatory evidence — evidence favourable to the defendant — goes parallel with searching for incriminating evidence, and is a part of the prosecutor’s mandate and should not require suspect or defence mobilization. The defence has complained largely of this lack of procedural criteria on the part of the prosecutor, which often has omitted to disclose exonerating evidence.

Procedural flaws are also striking. The ICC has infringed defendants’ rights in this trial by largely accepting hearsay and anonymous testimony as evidence, a procedure that cannot be contested by the defence at court. One hundred thirty-eight witness testimonies are slated for the duration of the trial. So far, the majority that have been heard have shown severe inconsistencies, originally filed written statements contrasting with their in-court testimony. One witness stated doctors would not treat him. Yet in court, he pointed out that they did not do so “since the operating tables had not been cleaned”. This crucial detail had been omitted by the prosecutor — an imperative point if trying to indicate that the man’s treatment was refused on a political basis as written in the witness statement. One witness conveniently remembers an incident in which he fingers Blé Goudé in the 25-28 February 2011 Yopougon incident only after he is called to testify. The witness claims that the event did not “come to his mind” before being summoned by the ICC.

During cross-examination on 16 February, a female witness admitted that she went to hospital weeks after the alleged incident, making the validity of the hospital documents filed by the prosecution questionable. Lead Judge Cuno Tarfusser adjourned the hearing until 3 Marc 2016.

In October 2015 as Ouattara was re-elected, broadcaster Aljazeera ran a piece that points to his “creeping authoritarianism”. From a human rights point of view the situation is serious — according to the last political prisoners report published by the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) 15 January 2016, despite the release of 102 political prisoners at the end of 2015, some 311 are still being held to date. This excludes the 228 so called “ghost detainees”, people who have disappeared in hidden prisons since April 2011. Press freedom is muzzled and three journalists have been assassinated since 2011. Of Gbagbo’s former government and sympathizers, dozens still have their assets frozen and are banned from travel. Five years after the crisis, some one-third of Gbagbo’s last government cabinet ministers are still in exile, others are under arrest or facing charges. The party’s headquarters has been repeatedly ransacked, their meetings hindered and on 4 May 2015 again three of Gbagbo’s high ranking party members were arrested: Hubert Oulaye, Sébastien Djédjé Dano and youth leader Justin Koua. Ouattara has decided not to air the ICC trial on public television.

Leaders at the 26th African Unit (AU) Summit meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 31 January 2016 supported a decision to develop a roadmap for the mass withdrawal of African countries from the ICC. President Kenyatta addressing the summit underlined the “unfair targeting” and “dysfunctional” nature of the court. In a world of serious global conflict Africans can no longer afford to “contend with an ICC pursuing weak and politicized cases…We refuse to be carried along in a vehicle that has strayed off course to the detriment of our sovereignty, security and dignity as Africans”, said Kenyan President Kenyatta. [20]

Yet is it not wishful thinking to imagine a just international court - a reflection of a genuine democratization of an institution - when we have not given thought to the democratization of power on a global level. This trial is a blatant reminder that only asymmetric justice- Pigeuad called it hemiplegic justice [21]- can come from a world were asymmetric power still reigns. Bensouda should be denouncing the “French pressure” and not accept to put on trial two non-violent leaders whom we “have nothing serious against”.

Notes

[1] http://www.iol.co.za/news/french-hand-in-gbagbos-fall-1983585

[2] http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20101206-francecote-ivoire-amities-socialistes-laurent-gbagbo

[3] Chief of the EU mission Cristian Dan Preda will instead declare end of January 2011 that EU observers were evacuated, but again miscites the actual areas of the evacuation, as attested by evidence of the bills paid to the aircraft owner who evacuated them. Fanny Pigeaud, France Côte d’Ivoire, Une histoire tronquée, Vents d’ailleurs, 2015. p 144

[4] 11 February 2015 http://news.abidjan.net/h/525871.html

[5] Matthew Russell Lee at http://www.innercitypress.com/rice2ruscote120710.html

[6] Charles Onana, Les secrets de la justice internationale, Enquetes truquées sur le génocide rwandaise, Duboiris, Paris, 2005 and http://www.resetdoc.org/story/00000022468. Video on the Rwandan 1994 plane crash https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuZQsGPWAuU

[7] http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2016/02/05/proces-gbagbo-ou-sont-les-bourreaux-du-camp-du-bien_4860079_3212.html

[8] Alain Dogou, Ma vérité sur le complot contre Laurent Gbagbo, Contre-rapport des résultats de la Commission internationale de l'ONU sur la crise postélectorale, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2012.p. 68-69

[9] http://www.linfodrome.com/vie-politique/20706-ake-ngbo-fait-des-revelations-voici-les-2- raisons-des-crises-en-cote-d-ivoire

[10] Leslie Varenne, Abobo la guerre, éditions Mille et Une Nuits, 2012.

[11] https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/19/1952795_re-ct-os-cote-d-ivoire-ct-rival-urges-commando-raid-to-oust.html

[12] Pierre Sané, Interview with Nicoletta Fagiolo, December 2015, Dakar Senegal at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iHkEsD6X3Q

[13] Jean Ziegler, interview Geneva, December 2015 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQbX56B6zKg

[14] Leslie Varenne, Abobo la guerre, éditions Mille et Une Nuits, 2012 et Leslie Varenne, CPI : chronique d’un désastre, 6 février 2016 at https://www.iveris.eu/list/articles_dactualite/140-cpi__chronique_dun_desastre and op. cit. p156

[15] Charles Onana interview in documentary film Presidential Elections November 2010 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwDLCb2UkXE

[16] Charles Onana, France- Côte d’Ivoire, Coup d’état, Duboiris, Paris, 2011.

[17] Fanny Pigeaud, France Côte d'Ivoire, Une histoire tronquée, Vents D'ailleurs, 2015. p 226

[18] Leslie Varenne, op. cit. p.157

[19] Judge Van den Wyngaert writes on the 16 December incident: “The Confirmation Decision attaches a lot of importance to Laurent Gbagbo’s alleged instruction during a meeting held on 14 December 2010 that the RTI march should not take place (see Confirmation Decision, para. 40). However, this finding relies entirely on the testimony of Witness P-9, who also stated that Laurent Gbagbo did not give any specific instructions as to how this should be accomplished. There is no other evidence about what was said during this meeting. Following the meeting, the Chief of Staff gave oral instructions to the Commander of the Ground Forces not to shoot at civilians or impartial forces. [See Witness P-9, CIV-OTP-0051-0935 at 0964-0967 ]. There is also evidence of similar orders by the Chief of Police [See CIV-OTP-0005-0031 at 0031-0032 and Witness P-46, CIV-OTP-0014-0204 at 0209]. As far as the evidence relating to alleged radio intercepts of orders given on the FDS network on the day of the RTI march is concerned, I consider the terminology used (“rentrer dans la foule”) ambiguous. It could just as easily refer to an order to push back the crowd with conventional crowd control techniques [see, e.g., CIV-OTP-0010-0028 at 0029 and 0031; CIV- OTP-0045-1413 at 1413]. More importantly, there is no evidence whatsoever showing that any of these intercepted orders emanated from or were approved by Laurent Gbagbo.” at https://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/doc/doc1783397.pdf

[20] Georges Peillon, interview Nicoletta Fagiolo, Lyon, April 2012 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1YnmToSr38

[21] http://www.president.go.ke/2016/01/30/statement-by-his-excellency-hon-uhuru-kenyatta-c-g-h-president-and-commander-in-chief-of-the-defence-forces-of-the-republic-of-kenya-on-the-status-of-the-kenyan-situation-at-the-icc/

[22] Fanny Pigeaud, Gbagbo jugé à la CPI: une justice internationale hémiplégique at http://forumdesdemocrates.over-blog.com/2016/01/gbagbo-juge-a-la-cpi-une-justice-internationale-hemiplegique.html

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