French president Nicolas Sarkozy said at a French Army base in Abidjan Saturday that French troops would remain in the Cote d’Ivoire “pour toujours” (for ever) while in almost the same breath saying French policy in Africa will change. But that is far from the only neo-colonial double speak in his important speech.
Sarkozy’s rendering of the events in the Cote d’Ivoire was very selective. It is true that victors write the history books but there are limits. For example, he said France will always honnor its defense commitments. If that were true, then France would have intervened against the 2002 coup from the north rather than protect it by attacking Ivorian government troops. In Fact, France did everything it could, along with Burkina Faso, to help the rebels.
Sarkzoy said the French army’s role is not to intervene in African affairs although that is exactly what he did in the Cote d’Ivoire. France has intervened militarily in its former African colonies more than 40 times since independence. Allassane Ouattara would not be in power today without the French Army. There would have been no war if not for the French. A vote re-count would have been enough. But as Sarkozy said in 2007, so he repeated today for the colonial audience, for him, La France-Afrique is over. They all understood: “France is back, calling the shots.”
He said France did not take sides in the country which is also totally untrue. France fought against President Laurent Gbagbo. Le Canard Enchainé satirical weekly has revealed France trained and equipped the rebels prior to their offensive and that French officers did the planning. Other sources speak of Burkina Faso’s aid to the rebels despite the so-called mediating role of its President Blaise Compoare, the Assassin of Thomas Sankara. France provided the rebels with air support and ground troops under the guise of “protecting civilians”, another euphamism for naked agression.
He said the international community was unanimous in supporting the UN resolution which France used to depose President Gbagbo. Also untrue. At least thirty-three nations were present at Laurent Gbagbo’s inauguration last December. The “wise men” of Africa such as Thabo Mbeki and Jerry Rawlings were calling for a vote recount. The UN has yet to release its vote count which Gbagbo’s government did.
Sarkozy said everything was done for the Ivorians to express themselves freely but the former government refused the people’s choice. None of the French sponsored accords were respected by the rebels who never disarmed and used their arms and control of the North to make sure Ouattara came out the winner. Lets not forget Gbagbo respepcted the accords, going as far as to name the rebel leader, and Compoaré sidekick, Guillaume Soro as his Prime Minister despite the blood on his hands.
Perhaps most importantly is what Sarkozy said will happen now. He has given Alassane Ouattara until July to draw up new trade agreements with the French ambassador because that is when Prime Mnister Laurent Fignon will come to sign them. France will get back the economic position it had before 2004, he said. That was when, after yet another French shooting of pro-Gbagbo supporters, the Ivorian government decided to diversify its foreign investors to the detriment of France and french businesses were targetted by angry protesters.
Sarkozy said the French Defense Minister would arrive within weeks to reorganize the Ivorian Army. This means that the country’s military will be an auxillary force of the French. But in the same breath he spoke of Cote d’Ivoire’s independence and of the people’s choice, forgetting that in the first round, despite the armed rebel presence throughout the north at polling stations, Ouattara only got a little more than 30% of the vote.
Everything Sarkozy said Saturday can only strike fear for the future in the hearts of all those Ivorians who believe Ouattara is France’s puppet and deputy to the other loyal French servant, Blaise Compoaré of Burkina Faso; to all those who believe Laurent Gbagbo won the elections and that the UN cautioned Ouattara’s cheating under orders from Paris and Washington.
Sarkozy said “it is the Ivorians who must decide” yet he was dictating the road map for the next three months and determining whose economic interests would be tended to in the years to come.
The words ‘democracy’ and ‘rule of law’ or ‘independence’ in Sarkozy’s mouth ring hollow when compared to the actions of his government.
We have learned in the Arab Spring that there is such a thing as the Arab street. Well, there is also such a thing as the African street. Sarkozy thinks he can write the history of the Cote d’Ivoire now that he has destroyed the anti-French Gbagbo but the last chapter in the book of the Cote d’Ivoire has not been written. I am confident that, although the country is under the boot of the rebel thugs from the North who massacred, tortured and raped their way to Abidjan with French air support, the African street will make itself heard and one day France will pay for its neo-colonialist take-over of the Cote d’Ivoire.