Senator Inhofe vs France on Cote d’Ivoire; or Fact vs Lies (April 11, 2011)

INHOFE FACT CHECK ON FRENCH EMBASSY “FACT SHEET”

 

French say:

Fact Sheet on Côte d’Ivoire(April 6, 2011)“After many delays, including on the part of then-President Laurent Gbagbo, a presidential election was held in Côte d’Ivoire last fall. Since then, its results have been certified by the local monitoring mission and acknowledged by the international community, including the United States, the European Union (EU), the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), and the African Union (AU).”

Inhofe responds:

In fact the Independent Electoral Commission did not fulfill its constitutional mandate to announce the final provisional vote tallies within three days. It announced them almost 16 hours after it was constitutionally mandated to report them to the Constitutional Council. And it is my understanding, that it is the Constitutional Council of Cote d’Ivoire and not the Electoral Commission which certifies and declares the winner of presidential elections. It seems that this election was not carried out in accordance with the constitution of Cote d’Ivoire. In addition, there is evidence of massive electoral fraud in the rebel held north. I submitted this evidence in two letters to Secretary Clinton and am awaiting a response to these specific allegations. The evidence submitted to Secretary Clinton includes tallies of precincts where, in the first round of voting, President Laurent Gbagbo received multiple thousands of votes, but in the second round he received zero votes. I also submitted an electoral document showing official regional electoral returns, where it shows Ouattara receiving a total 149,598 from one of five northern regions. But when the total is officially reported in the “total vote” column, Ouattara receives 244,471; a difference of 94,873 votes. From all the evidence I now have gathered, I am convinced that it is mathematically impossible for President Gbagbo to have lost the election by several hundred thousand votes. And if a similar amount of fraud exists in the other four regions of the rebel-held north, Gbagbo is actually the winner of the presidential election.

French say:

“Since the results, former President Laurent Gbagbo has not only refused to acknowledge the results, and listen to the will of the people of Côte d’Ivoire, but actually dismissed several initiatives, including by the AU, ECOWAS and other African leaders, to avert any bloodshed and find a peaceful solution of the crisis. Most recently, he again refused to accept proposals by the AU High Level Group, while these proposals have been formally accepted by President Ouattara.”

Inhofe responds:

Not true. As late as March 27, 2011 the African Union sent former Cape Verde foreign minister Jose Brito to mediate between Ouattara and Gbagbo. Gbagbo accepted the mediation, but Ouattara rejected it.

French say:

“This deadlock has precipitated a deterioration of the humanitarian situation. In addition, it has led to growing violence, of which the first victims have been civilians, in spite of the presence on the ground of the U.N. Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI). It is in this context that the United Nations Security Council adopted its Resolution 1975 on March 30. This decision was adopted unanimously, including with a positive vote from the United States and the three African members of the Council (namely, Gabon, Nigeria and South Africa). It stresses the protection of civilians, and the need to prevent the use of heavy weapons in this regard, as a key element of the impartial implementation of UNOCI’s mandate.

Inhofe responds:

There is no evidence that President Gbagbo ordered the shelling or killing of civilians in Abidjan or throughout the country. He has repeatedly denied it, and it is in fact actions by forces under the control of Ouattara who have carried out military and terrorist actions. This consisted of attacks upon police and Army forces by his “invisible commandos” and the outright offensive launched from the north that has led to the present crisis.

French say:

“In Côte d’Ivoire, French forces are acting on the basis of an international mandate given by U.N. Security Council, in support to the internationally constituted U.N. peacekeeping operation (UNOCI).”

Inhofe responds:

Focus should be on the word “peacekeeping”. Unfortunately, the United Nations and French forces are not engaging in peacekeeping, but war making.

French say:

“Most recently, their intervention has been strictly consistent with Resolution 1975, and responded to a request to President Sarkozy by UN Secretary-General Ban with a view to support UNOCI as it enforces its mandate. In particular, French forces’ intervention in Abidjan has been strictly consistent with this goal, and designed to neutralize the heavy weapons used against civilian populations and UN personnel in Abidjan.”

Inhofe responds:

Not true. Abidjan is a densely populated city of four million people. In this urban environment, the collateral damage caused by the attacks by UN “Peacekeeper” and French attack helicopters and ground troops has caused hundreds if not thousands of civilian casualties.  Specifically, hundreds of youths supportive of President Gbagbo formed a human shield around the presidential palace in an attempt to halt the Ouaratta and French offensive. No one knows how many of these youths have been killed by UN and French forces.

French say:

“In the context of its commitment to the protection of civilians and the fight against impunity in Côte d’Ivoire, as in the rest of Africa and worldwide, France reiterated its calls for an immediate halt to all violence against civilians, and underscored that the perpetrators of these crimes must be held accountable before a court of law. France welcomes President Ouattara’s pledge in this regard.”

Inhofe responds:

The only reported slaughter of civilians has been perpetrated by Ouattara forces currently allied with the UN and French. This occurred in the western town of Duekoue where up to 1000 people were massacred by the Dozos, traditional hunters who fought alongside Ouattara forces. This has been confirmed by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch.

French say:

“France is looking forward to the end of the current violence, and hopes that the constitutional and democratic order will eventually prevail. It is for president Ouattara and the people of Côte d’Ivoire to find the political solutions that will favor a democratic, peaceful, prosperous and reconciled nation.”

Inhofe responds:

Not true. President Gbagbo has called for an immediate cease-fire several times and has been ignored by Ouattara, the UN and French forces. The killings can come to an immediate end if these forces agree to a cease-fire.

Conclusion:

This past Wednesday, April 6, marked the 17th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. We now know that UN General Secretary Koffi Annan and others knew of the extent of this violence early on, but did nothing about it. We all want to prevent another genocide from occurring. That is why the United States must call for an immediate ceasefire to prevent Ouattara and his rebel army from committing more mass slaughters of the Ivoirians. Lastly, I renew my request to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Kerry requesting that he convene a hearing as soon as possible into the atrocities committed by forces loyal to rebel leader Ouattara, as well as into what I believe were flawed elections that gave legitimacy to his claim of the presidency.

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3 Responses to Senator Inhofe vs France on Cote d’Ivoire; or Fact vs Lies (April 11, 2011)

  1. Shep from New Jersey, US says:

    1. « The evidence submitted to Secretary Clinton includes tallies of precincts where, in the first round of voting, President Laurent Gbagbo received multiple thousands of votes, but in the second round he received zero votes. »

    a) If Senator Inhofe has this evidence, why does he not make it available to the public?
    b) Where did he get this information from? If he got it from the U.N. election certification commission, it is likely good evidence. If he got it from the Constitutional Council, it could be tainted by Gbagbo supporters in the C.C.

    2. « Gbagbo accepted the mediation, but Ouattara rejected it. »
    If you go on Google, and type in « Ouattara rejects peace deal, » you will find that he rejected peace deals later on in the civil skirmish. If you type in « Gbagbo rejected peace deal » you will see an African news outlet saying Gbagbo rejected an offer for peace back in January to avoid any bloodshed, meaning that Ouattara only stopped offering peace deals when he knew that the war was on and he had unequivocal support.

    3. « The only reported slaughter of civilians has been perpetrated by Ouattara forces currently allied with the UN and French.  »
    This is an outright lie. Any research shows atrocities committed on both sides. Yes, it seems the « western town of Duekoue where up to 1000 people were massacred by the Dozos, traditional hunters who fought alongside Ouattara forces. » This may be the largest atrocity in the civil war. But before that, Gbagbo’s forces were putting tires around people and lighting them on fire!

    We don’t know if Gbagbo and Ouattara personally ordered these attacks. But we know that neither of them have a clean record. Gbagbo has been running for president since the 1980s and has been a rival of Ouattara since 1995. In the early 2000’s, civil war gave both sides a taste of atrocities. Now it happened again. Gbagbo has been president since, for 10 years now. I am concerned if there was voter fraud in the North, and maybe a recount or a new runoff is the best idea, but I also think that Gbagbo has had his day in the sun anyway. Just my opinion here.

  2. Leon says:

    To Shep:
    1) Evidence submitted to Secretary Clinton
    a- Senator Inhofe presented the evidence to Sevretary Clinton first because this is the proper chanel
    b- Senator Inhofe had no means to check the authenticity of the documents indicating fraud he received from his source, be it the Constitutional Council or a member of President Gbagbo’s camp. Your suspicion about the legitimacy of the documents is well founded.
    Note however that the same suspicion lays on the UN mission which was considered not to be impartial by Gbagbo’s camp. Even less reliable was the electoral commission that was lopsided in its make up by Gbagbo’s opponents.
    It is therefore fair to question the authenticity of the document and the veracity of the results. All newsI heard immedia

  3. Leon says:

    Continued…
    All news reports I heard immediately after the run off indicated two things. The UN observers well not represented in the northern part of the country; the African observers missions who had deployed more resources to monitor the electoral process in the north of Cote d’Ivoire all reported that the process was neither fair nor free in a number of electoral districts. Their recommendation was that the appropriate authorities take these factors into account when they determine the results of the elections.
    Will you then say that the African observers were biased in favor of Gbagbo’s camp while Gbagbo’s camp accused the UN mission of favoring Ouattara’s camp.
    Should that be the case, the Secretary of State should have provided a reply to Senator Inhofe’s inquiry. I find it disingenuous that those who argue that the Constitutional court is headed by a Gbagbo appointee fail to mention that the Electoral Commission is dominated by Ouattara’s supporters. An unhealthy equilibrium indeed…but it is what it is…
    Members of the Constitutional court are appointed according to the constitution of Cote d’Ivoire. For the record, note that Members of the electoral commission were apportioned based on a political agreement.

    2) Mediation: The only thing I would mention here is the bottom line…When the African Union decided that it recognized Ouattara as the winner the elections in Cote d’Ivoire, it sent a mediator to go and negotiate the handing over of power. Outtara’s camp rejected that mediator and started the war with the help of France and the UN. Go figure…Could they not have asked for another mediator?

    3) Atrocities
    It is true that in a conflict of this nature, there are atrocities committed by both sides. The fundamental question here is where did it all start and what are the trigger points? The 2000 elections were controversials because a number of candidacies were rejected by the supreme court.
    Those who were dissatisfied with the outcome of the election process and outcome of 2000 attempted a coup d’Etat in September 2002 and committed unimaginable atrocities. It is very likely that those who were victims of these attacks retaliated.
    Fast forward to 2010. Ouattara claims victory, Gbagbo claims victory. Gbagbo is sworn in by the Constitutional council and holds unto power. Ouattara’s camp wants to remove him forcibly by all means necessary, ie the invisible commando in Abidjan and the massacre in Duekoue. Would one expect the national security forces not protect the populations against such attacks?
    Factual checks/corrections:
    Gbagbo has not been running for president since the 1980’s; he first ran for president in 1990 when he came back from exile a year or so before. Until 1982 before he fled in exile he was a syndical, political activist and « agitator » to use the term of the civil rights era demanding democracy and multipartism in Cote d’Ivoire.
    In 1992 Ouattara while he was prime minister in Cote d’Ivoire jailed Gbagbo following a protest march Gbagbo had organized.
    In 1995, Gbagbo and Ouattara were not rivals. Bedie was the incumbent, Gbagbo boycotted the elections and Ouattara was not a candidate.
    In 1999, Bedie was overthrown and in 2000 the official rivalry started.
    I am a strong proponent of term limits and would have advocated for Gbagbo not to be a candidate in 2010. But let’s be honest…can we in good faith say that Gbagbo governed Cote d’Ivoire for 10 years? He was elected in 2000 in « calamitous » circumstances to use his own terms, and governed until September 2002. Since that date, the successive governments in Cote d’Ivoire ave been a mixture of « crabs, lobsters and snakes… »

    Life would be so much better on the continent if we let people govern peacefully and leave power peacefully…of course we run the risk of encountering the A. Wade syndrome who does seem to recall that he vowed not to serve more than 2 terms.

    In conclusion, a recount of the vote in Cote d’Ivoire would have been the best way to get the majority of the population to accept the results, and as I recall that’s what Gbagbo suggested and was rejected by the UN…
    The African Union, though it determined Ouattara the winner of the elections was never able to answer the following question from Gbagbo’s camp: »how did you reach your conclusion? In what basis? »

    Feelings were hot and flew high during that election cycle, and it is understandable considering where the country was coming from….
    If one assumed that those who voted for Bedie during the first round would all cast a ballot during the second round and would vote for Ouattara we would have no need to hold the elections….
    The UN representive Mr. Choi has yet to answer the following question: »was the participation rate during the run off 70% as the UN declared or 81% as the results proclaimed by the president of the electoral commission from the hotel headquarter of Ouattara’s campaign indicate? »
    This 10 to 11% gap could embed the fraud that Gbagbo’s camp and the African election observers accuse Ouattara’s camp of having committed.

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