Wednesday, 19.01.2011 NAIROBI, KENYA    Category: Media    6 comments


By Dr. David Nyekorach- Matsanga in Nairobi, Kenya

Ivory Coast has become one of the test cases of African democracy and constitutionalism. The current conflict and standoff in that nation has ignited a debate as to whether African people, the opposition in Africa and governments  can uphold  tenets of constitutionalism. Many nations in Africa labor to put in place constitutions only to alter them or scrap them altogether. They abrogate constitutions after it turns that what was inserted in the constitutions does not favour them. The role of developed democracies in the West in African elections must be reviewed by serious African democratic institutions. It now clear that some western nations use elections as an exit strategy on many nations in Africa where conflicts have occurred as a result of election disputes- hence the case of Ivory Coast.

One of the problems that have besieged Africa and African people since independence 50 years ago is the lack of constitutionalism and constitutional space. The shrinkage of constitutionalism in Africa has brought untold suffering for the masses on the continent. Elections in Africa are used as exit strategy for the west that piles their observers to many of the countries that undergo election programs on the continent.  Many African countries have been judged on” election exit strategy” where observers come for two weeks and decide that an election was rigged or was free and fair.
I have been one of those few observers in the world especially on African soil who has disagreed with many of the EU, Commonwealth, and UN observer missions on African elections. Has anybody in Africa ever bothered to  ask why we don’t send observers to the British Elections or French elections yet there are many malpractices including loss of postal votes and similar irregularities?. Last year I voted in Britain where I have lived for over 25 years but many of my fellow voters who turned out in big numbers in Labour strongholds failed to find their names on the register and did not vote. This happened in constituencies where Labor Party had majority votes.  No coutry in the world put embargoes on Britain but people followed constitutional mechanisms to file their petition.

The case of Zimbabwe in 2002 where I fell out with General Abubakar who was the chairman of the Commonwealth Observer team in Zimbabwe elections where his report had been written in London as opposed to the findings that we had got from the observer teams. I was supported by many countries like Tanzania, Namibia, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, and India who had similar reservations about the Commonwealth report.

Let me came back to the question of Ivory Coast where many people and institutions have misunderstood the root causes of the current stalemate which must be addressed before conclusions are made. I believe that many observers who stuffed the Election of the opposition leader of Ivory Coast will find a comfortable reading but these are the facts.  The questions that I intend to raise here are cardinal to the current stalemate in the case of Ivory Coast.  Those who have condemned President Gbagbo of Ivory Coast taking the stance that he taken must address the constitutional apparatus of Ivory Coast.

What does the constitution of Ivory Coast say as far as announcing the final results of an election in that country? Which organization in Ivory Coast has the mandate to announce the winner and the run off of any election in Ivory Coast?  Why did the Electoral Commission of Ivory coast ignore these routes and went ahead to violate the same constitution that put them there to announce an election result?  African Union Observers know clearly that Ivory Coast has two divisions based on the Colonial legacy.

The South were assimilated by the French to look like French, speak like the French, while other parts in the north were told either look for business and join army or do other things. This caused an imbalance in that Country. Those negotiating any deal whether from UN or AU must bear in mind that a skewed colonial legacy still haunts Ivory Coast.  We must not risk dividing the country into two by calling for the Christian Gbagbo to go by force. While we leave the Opposition mainly Moslem north to dominate t – a negotiated settlement must be found to avoid another new nation in Africa from Ivory Coast.

Let me slowly try to answer most of these questions by avoiding critics Gbabgo who think he is a dictator yet he followed constitutionalism. I will painfully enlighten some people in the world on matters of constitutionalism.  I have decided to state with full confidence that Electoral commission of Ivory Coast altered their position and usurped the powers of the Constitutional court in announcing untallied election results. That is a breach of the constitutional apparatus that has created the current chaos we have in the nation of Ivory Coast.

It is now evident that some Western powers and some interested parties in the Election results of Ivory Coast rigged an election by wanting an opposition leader to win an election because of the hatred they had for the incumbent President Gbagbo. I say this with full confidence as was the case of Zimbabwe where all western agencies hated President Mugabe   and wanted the MDC to win even when MDC Morgan Tsvangarai had failed to muster the support in the rural areas of Zimbabwe.

The above case study of Zimbabwe and other cases on the continent are hard facts that those who want to mediate in the Ivory Coast scenario have to grasp before seeking solutions.   Instead of AU falling in the trap of western exit strategy on African elections of free and fair even when it was rigged, AU must put credible mechanisms of peaceful resolution and avoid threats of war.  In 1980 Uganda election which was won by UPC of Dr Milton Obote even though was rigged was praised by Western nations that witnessed the election.   Although there were  irregularities in the election in Uganda the EU, Commonwealth observers announced that it was free and fair. It caused a rebellion that led to the overthrow of our government which I served in 1985 (of Dr. Milton Obote) of Uganda. A serious conflict in which thousands of Ugandans died in Luwero Triangle where President Museveni NRM/ A and the government troops fought a bitter war from 1982- 1986.

Today we see Ivory Coast nearing a sharp conflict similar to that of Uganda in 1980 where observers declare results before tallying. Foreign observers in African elections help to mutilate the route of constitutionalism on both sides.  The above examples in Africa are an indicator that Africans need to” infuse massive political   education in their constitutions” to avoid the Ivory Coast or Kenyan style of unrest due to irresponsible opposition that losses an election and avoids constitutional route where chaos erupted. African masses help to make laws and Constitutions but break the same laws and constitutions when it comes to such laws not benefiting them! This is a shame to our continent.  African oppositions are used by international interests where the incumbent is disliked by the former colonial master  in the case of Gbagbo where French and other countries have hated him just for the sake of fate.
Most opposition parties in Africa fail to honor constitutions by not conceding defeat in an election that was called by virtue of constitution.  The cases that we see littered on the continent of Africa have a similar pattern.  The Kenyan case where mob hysteria was used instead of constitutionalism through the courts that handle election petitions. The case of Uganda where currently the opposition in the 18th February 2011 Election has already announced to the world that they will announce their own results without the Uganda Electoral commission declaring the winner and the loser.  This sets a precedent where no election in Africa will be won freely without contest from the losers and every nation in Africa will have conflict because of elections.

All these pointers teach African people that until we learn to respect constitutions and constitutional routes, conflicts in Africa will never go away. The dangerous toxins and minefields of Ivory Coast have come to surface because of an error by the Electoral Commission of Ivory Coast in declaring pre-maturely the results without the consent of the Supreme Constitutional Court. Electoral Commission of Ivory Coast did not follow the channels laid down in the constitution of Ivory Coast which I have exhaustively read and are clear on this matter.

African Union leaders should reconsider their position on Ivory Coast without following the whims of international a community whose membership if full of contradictions permanent   interests on some African nations.  A military solution or threats in Ivory Coast cannot bring a solution for this nation where the North is mainly Moslem and the South rubber growing areas are mainly inhabited by Christians who were told by the French to go to school while others were to seek manual jobs.  The solution lies with knowing the root causes before concluding and resolving the sharp conflict that has divided the nation.  A constitution is a constitution whether it lame or black or white it remains pinnacle of a nation.  It must be respected by all parties that agree to go in an election in Africa. The total shrinkage of constitutionalism therefore puts Africa at crossroads and will ignite infernos that reminds us of the 1970s where the military took over power due to struggles within the civilian rule.

The failure to understand the roots causes in the Ivory Coast election conflict places a big burden on the AU or ECOWAS Mediators whose brief on the subject has not been adequate. Ivory Coast transition has been rough.” It has just come out of a sharp conflict and it needs careful Mediation not one that increases the conflict through misguided politics of extremism, violence and threats of chest bumping, loaded with sheer scale of ignorance on conflict resolution tenets”. USA President has done well in seeking a peaceful resolution instead of jumping on the bandwagon of ECOWAS whose military capability leaves a lot to be desired in resolving conflicts. If I am wrong time will tell but AU must change its mediation approach and use ethical routes of wisdom other than mob hysteria that killed Jesus Christ.


Dr. David Nyekorach- Matsanga
Specialist:  African History, Governance, Democracy, Conflict Resolution, Media implications and strategy on Africa
+447930901252 London
Surrey  CRO 9 DP
United Kingdom



Photos Source: Reuters




About me

Name:David Nyekorach - Matsanga (PhD)
Work: Publisher, Owner, Chairman of Africa World Media Ltd Specialist: Political Science, African History, Governance, Democrary, Great Lakes Region, Conflict Resolution, Media Impact on Africa, International Management and Lobby work
Location: London, Surrey UK

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