|UDP Leader, Ousainou Darboe|
Gambia’s main opposition party, the United Democratic Party (UDP) has said the Gambia Government’s recent pronouncement on the situation in Ivory Coast.
In an email to The Voice Newspaper, the UDP said: “To hear the government frame its farfetched claims and feigned outrage at the imagined hidden hands of colonialists attempting to take over a resource rich African country ignores the realities of the events that culminated in the arrests of the former President, Laurent Gbagbo.
“The international presence that the Gambia government seemed so perturbed by came about as a result of the civil war Ivory Coast found itself engulfed in a few years ago with all sides to the conflict agreeing to a United Nations supervised democratization process that was inclusive and engendered long term stability.”
The media dispatch, issued on April 20, 2011, said the efforts of Alassane Ouattara, the legitimate elected President of Ivory Coast to establish law and order in the face of his losing opponent’s deadly intransigence cost nearly 1500 Ivorians their lives and displaced more than a million people, was at once pathetic and immoral.
The UDP said the Gambia government’s refusal to recognise the elected President of Ivory Coast, places it in a category by itself and is illustrative of an out of touch regime that is pursuing a foreign policy entirely driven by a “crazy obsession with delusional western conspiracies”.
“To be on the record, advocate of tyrants who refuse to cede power following a rejection by their people, is utterly disgraceful and inconsistent with the Gambian peoples’ strong affinity for democracy and the rule of law. The government’s position on Ivory Coast does not reflect the values of our good people,” the party argued.
The UDP said it rejects the Gambia government’s approach to President Ouattara.
“The UDP congratulates Mr. Alassane Ouattara on his election to the high office of President of the Republic of Ivory Coast and wish him and his team all the best as they embark on the important and difficult task of reconciliation, rebuilding and repositioning that country as an economic and democratic beacon in a region that is fast changing for the better as one country after another shed dictators and calcified negative approaches and embrace functional democracies.”
The party said despite repeated attempts by former President Gbagbo and his allies to delay and obstruct key instruments of the process in a bid to cling to power, the international community persevered and finally conducted a free and fair election in which all qualified voters were able to participate in determining the leadership of their country.
Mr. Gbagbo promptly rejected the verdict of his own people when it became clear that they had chosen to vote his opponent into office. Both the regional and continental African bodies, ECOWAS and AU respectively, concurred with the verdict delivered by the Ivorians that Mr. Ouattara was the duly elected President of Ivory Coast.
This verdict, according to the UDP, was equally endorsed by the UN, the European Union and US Government and all those who place value on a free and transparent electoral process.
Mr. Gbagbo stubbornly resisted every diplomatic initiative to end his illegitimate claim to power by spurning envoys from ECOWAS, AU and direct offers of graceful exit from friendly countries that wanted to save Ivory Coast from further turmoil, the statement said.
“With his increasing recalcitrance, the machinery of government effectively grounded to halt as he used regime loyalists to unleash violence on the civilian population and effectively threatening to plunge his nation back to the horrible days of the civil war,” the UDP said on Wednesday.
The press statement concluded that the Ivorian people and the international community, who had worked so hard to help chart a democratic future for Ivory Coast, had to act to safeguard their mandate, pursuant to the relevant United Nations resolutions.
“They acted swiftly and justifiably to end Mr. Gbagbo’s war against the Ivorian people and in the process, offering them the opportunity to pursue the great promise they represent as a prosperous democratic country.”