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Commentary Referring to US President Visit in Africa, Says Cote d`Ivoire `Uninviting`
Le Temps
July 1, 2013

Cote d`Ivoire election 2010

Commentary by K. Kouassi Maurice: “Visit to Africa - Why President Obama Shuns Ouattara” First paragraph in bold is introduction by Le Temps

Barack Obama began a tour in Africa by Senegal, where he will stay until 28 June, before departing for South Africa and Tanzania. For his first visit to a French-speaking Africa, the US president has avoided Cote d`Ivoire by Ouattara during a “historic trip with an important economic component.” A bitter blow for the lattice totalitarianism planted on the banks of the Ebrie lagoon, since 11 April, 2011. “Air Force One, the plane of the US president landed at the Leopold Sedar Senghor airport, in the evening of 26 June. Barack Obama is visiting a country in French-speaking Africa. A historic journey with an important economic component: 600 people, including many potential investors are part of the American delegation”.

This is the report by the RFI correspondent in Dakar, Carine Frenk; anything that makes Ouattara and his government green with envy, bitterly upset to see that the president of the United States preferred Senegal, the “Little Tom Thumb,” to Cote d`Ivoire that once boasted the most influential country in the Franc Zone, one of the “pillars in the sub-region”.

Moreover, the logic, according to informed observers, would have wanted that President Barack Obama pops at the homeland of the Economic Community of West African States chairman; the man who supposedly knows all regional matters, in order to be briefed on the actual situation; in order to share views with him on hot topics: poverty, jihadism and sub-regional instability, investment in Africa, cooperation ..., especially as “in June 2012, Mr Obama also unveiled his strategy for the development of Africa, with the aim of enhancing security and democracy in a continent that faces the threat of Al Qaeda and a Chinese economic offensive. The trip aims to encourage the continent`s “sensational” economic potential, in terms of growth, in a bid to get millions of Africans out of poverty, by focusing on four areas: strengthening democratic institutions, stimulating growth and investment, giving priority to peace and security, and promoting development,” wrote

But the US president royally ignored Ouattara. The outstanding economist, who studied in the United States and has the support of the international community, the million-dollar man, the friend of the great of this world, the man who dines daily at the table of the most powerful men of the planet and has all entries in the international financial community, did not attract a single second of President Obama`s attention. He is however believed to be his “a personal friend”. And our colleague recalled that “President Obama, who was born in the United States to an American mother and a Kenyan father, has, so far, made only a short visit in July 2009, as president, in one black African country, namely Ghana.”

“Mrs Obama, meanwhile, had toured Southern Africa in June 2011, during which she met former president and nonagenarian hero of the struggle against apartheid, Nelson Mandela, in South Africa”.

The End of the Great Disillusionment

If we can understand that the US president did not include Cote d`Ivoire on the agenda in the past, because of the bashing that the President Gbagbo`s government was subject to by the French right and its local minions, sponsors of the former rebels, how can we explain that President Obama simply ignored Ouattara, the “friend of the great” that he mercilessly let down? According to the Rally of Republicans` mentor, also lost in obviously useless travels outside, here, there are enough reasons for the standoff, especially as it is “a historic trip with an important economic component: 600 people, including the fact that many potential investors are part of the American delegation.”

Why is it that the US president did not give such an opportunity to Ouattara who, today, more than ever, needs to head out of the water? Abidjan authorities have all reasons to feel bad. This dodge by Barack who has deliberately omitted Cote d`Ivoire, despite “Ouattara`s relations with major powers,” ends the great mystification and the overrated image of a banker presented as an “extraordinary economist, a friend of the powerful”.

Obama`s visit to Senegal, in addition to being a resounding repudiation, comes to demystify and debunk Ouattara by showing that he was never, as one could believe, this “privileged friend of the great”. And that his “status” of President Obama`s “personal friend” actually derives from the electoral illusions that the Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace has sold to his supporters.

In fact, everything originates from fables and legends by the Rally of Republicans. The truth is that, except a small room with the IMF (deputy IMF director-general, Africa zone), where France literally welcomed him, in order to save him from the rushing waters of Bedie, after the death of Houphouet-Boigny in 1993, “Wari-fatchea,” (in an Ivorian northern dialect), the much-praised million-dollar man has free access nowhere else in the international sphere, apart from the lobbying by Nicolas Sarkozy, who literally forced European heads of state, and Western leaders to shake his hands. Ouattara, if he tries to appear anywhere, on any occasion, does not dine every day at the table of the great, as one would want us believe.

Better still, that “600 people, including many potential investors” are in the delegation of President Obama, who ignores Ouattara, is evidence that the RDR mentor is not as “known” as it is said in business and the US investment circles.

The Scar of the Denial of Human Rights

But beyond erosion of overrated image of Ouattara, who, in addition, confessed incapacity to get Cote d`Ivoire out of economic malaise, and displayed all the shortcomings of his government, this disguised slap by President Obama revives the issue of non-compliance with human rights in Cote d`Ivoire. In fact, Ouattara`s government is uninviting, especially for the US president, whose opinion does not trifle with the issue of human rights. How to go about it to justify his presence in a country ranked “authoritarian” by his UN ally itself, and where more than 700 opponents and innocent people considered pro Gbagbo supporters languish in prisons?

President Obama probably did not want to appear alongside a regime that bullies opponents in detention camps, reminiscent of the Nazi era. President Obama certainly took note of the report by the US ambassador to Cote d`Ivoire, Philip Carter III, who denounced “violations of human rights and war crimes ...” committed especially by the Ouattara`s camp, and deplored the fact that “so far, with the exception of a few soldiers of rank, all those detained and charged for their role in the post-election crisis come from only one side (editors` note: Gbagbo) of the conflict.”

That is why the United States did not fail to call on the Ivorian Government to “keep its promise to fight against impunity,” and to ensure “impartial justice” for crimes committed during the crisis. The US is totally aware that since the arrest of President Laurent Gbagbo on 11 April 2011, Ouattara`s government, signing the reign of lattice totalitarianism, erected persecution and torture of opponents as a management mode.

Reports of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch are still hot on the table of the US ambassador to Cote d`Ivoire, and therefore necessarily on the Obama`s office. Abuses and crimes committed by the so-called “Republican Forces of Cote d`Ivoire (FRCI),” known as former rebels, did not go unnoticed in the chancery. Philip Carter III witnessed the Nahibly`s massacre, including mass killings committed by FRCI. He knows that since 11 April, 2011, freedom of expression and association are trampled underfoot by Ouattara. Managers and opposition activists are hounded, arrested or abducted and illegally detained in inhumane conditions and tortured, sometimes, to “electricity” or “burning plastic,” as evidenced by reports of human rights NGOs.

Demonstrations and rallies by the FPI, President Laurent Gbagbo`s party, have been banned, or sometimes bloodily suppressed. Philip Carter III indeed observed and informed the American Chief Executive that political dialogue with the opposition is not accepted by the Ouattara`s regime that uses torture. And that any statement from the dictatorship installed in Cote d`Ivoire is only parody of “negotiation,” in order to deceive the public opinion.

Another proof of the opposition`s repression by Ouattara, was it not given by the arrest of Justin Koua, the FPI youth national secretary on 07 June, at the Laurent Gbagbo`s campaign headquarters and FPI provisional head office? Yet another act of tyranny following which, Doudou Diene, the UN independent expert on the human rights` situation in Cote d`Ivoire, lamented that “the arrest (...) of the FPI youth national secretary, at the headquarters of the party and without a warrant, is a negative message that is not conducive to dialogue.”

That the United States chose to visit Senegalese (who) are very proud of welcoming Barack Obama, the first black US president, who praises Senegal, as the “democratic showcase of Francophone Africa – should therefore not be a surprise. Beyond that, President Obama is sending a message. For the United States, President Macky Sall is currently the most credible partner in the West African French-speaking sub-region. As proof: “In the Sahel facing a jihadist threat, President Barack Obama has also welcomed Senegal as a pole of stability. His audience (...) with President Macky Sall will be dedicated to the crisis in Mali and Dakar`s support in the fight against jihadists,” wrote, which analyzed that “Senegal has, more than ever, an important place in the US strategy in Africa.” Assuredly, the Ouattara regime is uninviting. And with it, alas, Cote d`Ivoire, which has only become a shadow of it.

(Description of Source: Abidjan Le Temps in French -- Privately owned daily supportive of former President Gbagbo and critical of President Ouattara, France, and the United Nations)

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Commentary Challenges African Leaders To Echo Obama`s Speech on Interest of Africans
Business Day Online
July 1, 2013

Commentary by Aubrey Matshiqi, research fellow at the Helen Suzman Foundation, from the `Opinion & Analysis` section: “Let`s Hear Obama`s Words From Our Leaders”

I DON`T know about you, but I had a terrible weekend and it is because US President Barack Obama was in town. Until Air Force One left for Tanzania, I was a victim of spousal emotional abuse and emasculation.

My wife kept on reminding me of my limitations, also known as Obama`s strengths to those of us who, unlike him, are not slim, slim (clever), handsome, a best-selling author and … the first black president of the US.

What is terribly unfair and insensitive about the mother of my children comparing me to this American chap is that she forgets that I am not a US citizen.

Fortunately for my bruised ego, my daughter is still young and gullible and, to her, no man is as strong, suave and debonair as her dad.

As for that Obama, who does he think he is?

How dare he come to this country to disturb the peace in my family? He is lucky I decided, against my better judgment, not to burn the American flag and my underpants in public, in protest against his visit.

Next time, if there is a next time, nothing will restrain me, not even my bossy wife who, by the way, forced me to watch the Obama visit on TV for the whole day on Saturday.

I must confess, though, that I was intrigued by some of the things he had to say.

Chief among these was his contention that Africa must insist on favourable terms of engagement with its partners, as opposed to the colonial and imperialist logic (my words) that has consigned the continent “to the bottom of the supply chain” (his words).

My interpretation of this statement is that Africa will not rise unless economic growth ceases to be about investors who come to the continent to exploit its resources and its people, and congratulate African leaders for adopting “pragmatic” and “investor-friendly economic policies” when, in return, all they do is to leave holes in the African ground as evidence of the continuing disconnect between economic growth and human development.

If this is what Obama means, I agree with him, and maybe my wife is right about him after all.

But I do not want to hear these things from Obama. I want to hear them from African leaders who, as a collective, speak with one voice in the interest of all Africans.

African leaders must not be timid when they are confronted with the choice between maximising the interest of Africans and that of positive country ratings that are based on terms of engagement that are skewed in the interest of those who seek to develop or rescue their economies on the back of Africans and their resources.

However, as Africans we must recognise the fact that our development will, in part, depend on the link between our agency and the quality of leadership we deploy to national, geopolitical and geo-strategic tasks in our different polities.

We need leaders who understand that it is not a given that Africa will benefit from shifts in the global system, especially as it is in the interest of those who are compromised and discredited among African leaders to reverse these shifts back to a colonialist and imperialist logic.

It is our duty as Africans to insist on leaders who, on the global stage, can speak with moral authority, the courage of our conviction and theirs, and the integrity of those who have not been corrupted by the power of money.

We need such leaders in Africa because our development will depend much more on what we do together as Africans, and much less on the kind words of leaders from other parts of the world.

We must bear in mind that those who occupy dominant positions in the global system are not going to give up these positions without resistance.

We must remain vigilant, for part of this resistance will be about integrating the African continent into a global system that has been reconstituted for the reconsolidation of global economic and political relations to their advantage.

Our vigilance must, however, not be based on the infantilism of some of our left-wing politics.

(Description of Source: Johannesburg Business Day Online in English -- Website of South Africa`s only business-focused daily, which carries business, political, and general news. It is widely read by decision-makers and targets a “higher-income and better-educated consumer” and attempts to attract “aspiring and emerging business.” Its editorials and commentaries are generally critical of government policies; URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.




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