Atta Mills opposes war in Côte D’Ivoire

Finally – a voice of reason in the presidential tug-of-war in Côte D’Ivoire: Ghana’s president Atta Mills refuses to take sides, the BBC reported on Friday.

Mr Ouattara called this week for a special forces operation to remove Mr Gbagbo.

But President Mills appeared to reject such an idea in a speech on Friday. “I personally do not think the military option will solve the problem in Ivory Coast,” he said.

“Ghana is not taking sides,” he said, pointing out that:

“We have about one million Ghanaians living in Ivory Coast who could be victims of any military intervention.”

Ghanaians, Ivoirians, Bukinabe … everyone living in that country would suffer tremendously from a war – except the people who are calling for military action. I am appalled by Ouattara’s call for UN military intervention to remove Gbagbo from power. Ouattara is sitting pretty in his hotel in Abidjan, but the ordinary people who are not protected by UN tanks are the ones who would suffer.

I am also disgusted by the so-called “International Community” stoking the fires of distrust, conflict and violence in Côte D’Ivoire. We should be helping to build bridges and solve this crisis, not fanning the fire. Many poeple have already died, and this conflict has the potential to turn into an ethnic massacre. So how can the UN takes sides in this situation? Whether Ouattara or Gbagbo won more than 50 percent of the votes is almost beside the point in this case. The issue is that neither side trusts the other side enough to let go of  whatever power they have, for fear of the possible consequences. And the real problem here is that neither candidate has exhibited the kind of leadership to overcome this distrust – which is the leadership Côte D’Ivoire really needs at this point. I think that means that they both should be disqualified from the job.

What needs to happen? In my opinion, ECOWAS or the AU should make Gbagbo and Ouattara sit down and negotiate an interim government with someone else, someone neutral, as the president with a 2-year term limit and new elections in 2 years. And none of the current candidates should be allowed to run again. The political system in Côte D’Ivoire  is broken, but war will break the back of the people. For democracy to work, the people need to be strong and confident, not broken or dead.

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