By Alex Lantier:
French, UN forces back military takeover of Ivory Coast, citing Libya war precedent
2 April 2011
Assisted by French and UN troops, northern forces led by Alassane Ouattara yesterday marched on the southern port city of Abidjan, and the economic and political centre of the regime of Laurent Gbagbo.
The military standoff between Gbagbo and Ouattara had flared up after the disputed November 28, 2010, elections, which both men claimed to have won. The Western powers backed Ouattara’s claim against that of the incumbent, Gbagbo. The country had been partitioned between a rebel-held, majority-Muslim north and a loyalist, majority-Christian south since 2002, with French and UN forces maintaining an unstable truce.
After the second round of the November elections, the Western powers claimed that Ouattara had won the vote with 54 percent versus 46 percent for Gbagbo, but Gbagbo contested the results. He retained command of the bulk of the official armed forces. French and UN forces sided with Ouattara inside the country—guaranteeing his safety in the Golf Hotel in downtown Abidjan.
Ouattara’s power grab centres on a battle for influence inside the Ivory Coast’s officer corps, to convince them to desert the Gbagbo camp, together with the backing of the major imperialist powers that are citing the Libyan war as a pretext for intervention in Ivory Coast. As in Libya, the pretence of a fight to defend democracy is a thin disguise for an attempt to manipulate a bloody civil war to the advantage of the major imperialist powers.
Ouattara’s offensive began on March 28. Le Monde reported, “On Monday, many columns were leaving their bases in the north of the country, with at their head the historic ‘comzones’ [zone commanders] of the movement created in September 2002, after the failure of a coup attempt that Laurent Gbagbo always attributed to Alassane Ouattara”.
Aid agencies are reporting mass killings in the Ivory Coast city of Duekoue, captured by fighters supporting UN-recognized president Alassane Ouattara this week: here.
The United Nations and the government it supports in embattled Ivory Coast traded accusations at the weekend over the killings of hundreds of civilians in a western town: here.
Ivory Coast: French forces take over Abidjan airport: here.