Raila heads back to Cote d’Ivoire

Cote d’Ivoire is obviously not in East Africa, so I haven’t tried to address it here, but think it is worth noting that Kenyan PM Odinga is back for meetings with both sides Thursday and Friday.   Obviously there is a certain irony in Odinga finding himself in this role, where there seems to be a consensus now that the power sharing deal in Kenya was not exactly a model solution to the 2007 election dispute, and that the vote total was falsified at the ECK in Nairobi to allow Kibaki to hold on to power.  I don’t know what Odinga tells Gbagbo, but at least he is an example to Ouattara of someone who chose to stand down rather than attempt to fight a civil war to vindicate what he understands as the election result.

I do think that Odinga genuinely values international respect and being called on to serve in this role is probably one of the main consolations associated with being given the “Prime Minister” title in Kenya.

RFI reports with an interview with Joseph Lake, the Africa editor for the Economist Intelligence Unit, that the prospects for military intervention are diminishing:

“The main is reason is that other African leaders would not want to intervene militarily because of the precedent it would create for outside intervention following elections in their own country.”

He added that countries such as Nigeria may feel reluctant to provide troops to any such mission for internal reasons.

“Nigeria, which would be expected to contribute troops to a regional intervention force has a presidential election this year and such move would not be politically popular for Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent president there.”

Some countries would also be fearful that any military intervention would result in violent retribution for their own nationals that currently reside in Côte d’Ivoire.

Lake sees three possible scenarios:  1) Gbagbo could still possibly be talked into stepping down eventually, although it might take months; 2)  Gbagbo could persuade Ouattera to enter into a “power sharing” arrangement, although it would probably produce a “bitter and fractured” administration; 3) the civil war could reignite.

Dr. Carl LeVan has a good new post up regarding power sharing arrangements in Africa today, which includes a  link to download free (for now) his current article “Power Sharing and Inclusive Politics in Africa’s Uncertain Democracies” in Governance.

In the meantime, as the standoff continues IRIN had a report on the humanitarian situation in the west of Cote d’Ivoire toward the Liberian border:

Ngokwey [ UN humanitarian official] said at least 35 people had been killed in the confrontation between Malinké and Guéré communities in Duékoué, with the local Catholic Mission now playing host to thousands of displaced.

Ngokwey said Duékoué appeared to be calm for now, but warned against complacency. “The conflict may have died down and one can talk about a relative peace. I didn’t hear any gunshots in the time I was there. But you can definitely sense the tensions. The situation remains volatile.”

Ngokwey pointed out that the recent violence, reportedly triggered by the killing of a trader, had deep roots, with local tensions exacerbated by the political stand-off in Côte d’Ivoire. He said the humanitarian needs in Duékoué were stark. “People need food. They need water and sanitation. They need medical care. Until recently, we were looking at a figure of around 4,000 people requiring help in the west, then it suddenly shoots up to 16,000.”

The west remains divided. Guiglo and Duékoué, important urban centres long seen as major strongholds for Laurent Gbagbo remain under the control of an administration that recognizes Gbagbo’s rule. Man and Danané are in territory controlled by the pro-Ouattara Forces Nouvelles. But Ngokwey stressed that, despite the difficulties of the political context, authorities on both sides, at national and regional level, understood the humanitarian priorities and were being supportive, trying to facilitate access.  . . . .

Closer to home for me:  Kenyan Peter Kimboi captures Mississippi Blues Marathon.

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