FEATURED: Live Updates: Ghanaians Go To The Polls...

18.01.2011 Ivory Coast


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If the leadership of ECOWAS wishes to include Ghana's name in their war against, what I would describe as a part of Cote d'Ivoire, on an election result that is very faulty, President Mills should do well to bring home the one million Ghanaians currently resident in that part of the country.

I can understand why Ghana finds herself between a rock and a hard place on this matter. The majority of ECOWAS leaders, most of who have abysmal records in democracy, are leading this putsch. And they are the ones in the majority. Otherwise, there is no reason why our government should go into this war in our name. Nigerian troops are known to be ruthless and indiscriminate killers. At least they demonstrated this knack when they went to Liberia and Sierra Leone under the guise of ECOMOG. They were even reported to be shooting disabled children in Sierra Leone.

It is on record that, as a result of their behaviour, more than 5,000 innocent Nigerians, then residing in Liberia, were murdered in revenge attacks by Liberian civilians. The ostensible reason for going to war is that the incumbent President of Cote d'Ivoire has lost an election but does not want to hand over power to the winner. The question that has not been answered is how people could determine a winner in an election in which independent African observer groups have judged as being fraught with widespread fraud.

I have seen a video clip of the press conference of the 200 strong African Union (AU) Election Observer Team, which were led by Mr. Joseph Kokou KOFIGOH, former Prime Minister of Togo. In the clip, he stated among other things: “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”.

In a different video clip, an independent West African observer team, the “Delegation, de la Societe Civile Africaine pour la Democratie et l'Assistance Electoral (OSCADA), led by Ms. Seynabou Indieguene of Senegal, stated at their post-election press conference:

“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 have sent its members to Korhogo, 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 Gagbo- were refused access to polling stations to do their work, especially in Korhogo. 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 o polling stations. Voters of the LMP were physically attacked in Korhogo, 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 video clip, 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, Tortiya, 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”.

That was not all. There are currently two election results figures, both released at different times by the Cote d'Ivoire Electoral Commission. The original voting figures that were released and distributed among UN bodies and African NGOs did not make sense. The second one, which has now been published on the Website of the Cote d'Ivoire Electoral Commission, is an edited and sanitised version of the original. What I have published is the original one, which the UN “certified”. Yet these were the figures on which the leaders of ECOWAS, the AU Commission, the UN, the US and France are relying.

When I interrogated the figures, the findings (last three columns) were mind-boggling. On Row 20, Ouattara's share of votes was 102%. Although the total number of valid votes cast was recorded as 66,459, Ouatarra was recorded to have obtained 79, 771 while Gbagbo got 46,976 (70.86%). This is mathematically impossible. Please note that the total number of registered voters for the constituency was 79,093.

On Row 38, Ouatarra's share was 103 %. On Row 43, Gbagbo's share of valid votes was 254.82% while Ouatarra had 181.01%. These are amazing figures.

Moreover, in several places, no breakdown was provided. In the Savanes Region (Row 77 to 81, the performance outclassed those from Ashanti Region and Volta region. Korhogo is based in the Savanes Region where there were reports by the OSCADAE observers of massive rigging, including men in military uniform on bicycles transporting ballot boxes without representatives of the electoral commission. This is the place where people were reportedly told who to vote for at the entrance of polling stations. This is the place where Gbagbo's supporters were physically attacked, especially in Soba Primary School.

Are these the figures over which Ghana is prepared to go to war, sacrifice the lives of our soldiers and other Ghanaian residents?

There is a saying in my village, that when you are about to cut the throat of the sheep, be merciful by covering its eyes, so that it does not see the sharpened knife coming at it. This time, the Cote d'Ivoire Electoral Commission was in no mood to be merciful.

In spite of all these glaring reported infringements, some people in Ghana feel that Gbagbo lost a free and fair election and should hand over.

The sad thing is that for many of such people, they have not even seen the figures. They are just going with the flow, following the lead of the UN, US, France, and ECOWAS leaders some of who themselves (Nigeria) are masters in ballot box snatching. For these countries and bodies, the figures do not matter; they just want to see the back of Gbagbo even if the elections were rigged. They have something beyond free and fair elections on their minds.

The same goes for some people in Ghana whom I would put in three categories. There are those among the political elite who are politically aligned to the Ouattara world-view of politics. As far as they are concerned, Ouatarra is their political ally and should be supported. There are also those, who, having witnessed a situation in which the incumbent NPP tried to hang unto power in 2008 through unfair means, they are not prepared to countenance any incumbent party that is accused of having “lost” an election and yet is trying to hang on.

The third group is a much more interesting bunch. For these people, they consider that any argument between a person from below the 8 degrees latitude and another from above the 8 degrees latitude is an ethnic dispute over which they would be prepared to go to war. They are made up of people with sectarian views whose natural instinct is to support Ouatarra for reason of sectarian affinity. Some of those among this group with whom I have interacted initially try to hide their real motivation for supporting the defective results. They initially come cloaked in the apparel of objectivity. They begin by rationalising the issues; such as how they think Gbagbo should accept the results released by the Cote d'Ivoire Electoral Commission. When they are reminded that according to Cote d'Ivoire law, it is the Constitutional Council that declares the final results (after going through the provisional figures from the EC), they respond that the Constitutional Council has no moral right to confirm the results. When they are reminded that, that is the law in Cote d'Ivoire, they retort that then it is a bad law.

When they are shown the original results figures that were released by the EC, they refer to how Gbagbo has ruled for ten years already. When asked whether that is the reason for accepting the faulty figures, they shift, saying that Gbagbo is a bad man who “orchestrated” the concept of “Ivoirite”, a policy that caused ethnic division in the country. “How could he treat northerners like that?” one of them asked me. When reminded that it was Konan Bedie who introduced that concept, they go on a walk-about: saying that Gbagbo is neither a socialist nor anti-imperialist, because he was not critical of the IMF and the World Bank. When you ask them how this has got to do with faulty election figures, they would accuse you of being “too known”. When you remind them again whether, that is the reason why they support the bogus results, they get angry. At this stage, finding no where else to hide, they retreat into the cesspit of name-calling, accusing you of being “petty” and being the “man from on-high”, etc. Some even accuse you of having been bribed by Gbagbo. The kinder ones would accuse you of being “sentimental”. They hope to tempt you to join them in the insult cesspit, where they feel really comfortable. This is because they would have succeeded in diverting from the issue of flawed election figures to the generation of personal animosity between them and you. Given the chance, they would even accuse Gbagbo of being responsible for the holes in the ozone layer.

These are the types who think that President Mills should go to war, even if the case for going to war has not been made.

Positions such as these remind me of the days before the US and British invasion of Iraq when we were all told that the reason for going to war was to remove weapons of mass destruction from Iraq. At the time, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, showed “pictures” of locations were WMDs were being kept in Iraq. They turned out to be fakes. Now we know the truth. There were no WMDs in Iraq. However, they achieved what they really wanted: they killed Saddam Hussein and installed into power, a government that is favourable to them.

As observed earlier, President Mills might be going to war because of Nigerian oil. It has nothing to do with whether or not the Cote d'Ivoire elections were free or fair or flawed. The irony is that, for the sake of peace, President Mills (in 2004), allowed the NPP to get away with a suspiciously flawed election results, declared by the then NPP Campaign Manager, but is prepared to wage war on a neighbour over defective election results. Wonders will never cease. The things that oil can do!

I very much hope that our sectarian dogmatists would find it in their hearts to accept flawed election results, if in future; their party is cheated by their opponents with figures amounting to more than 100% of turn-out.

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