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New imperialism in Cote D’Ivoire and Mali?

By Nisa Islam Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Feb 13, 2012 - 10:46:47 PM

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WASHINGTON ( - One year after the ouster of Cote d’Ivoire’s President Laurent Gbagbo and the installation of President Alassane Ouattara opposition forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo gathered here for their second symposium to bring attention to what they consider to be a takeover of their country by the French.

“The French have imposed this new government and we want to bring awareness around the world that this is a puppet government. We want the French to surrender control of our country. Everything you hear is just propaganda,” Leo Gnawa head of Cri Pan Africain told The Final Call.

“We are the Ivoirian resistance and we represent the entire country. Something has to be done and we are organizing to do it. We started organizing in April soon after the French invaded our country. It has now grown to America where we started in June.”

The disputed Ivoirian elections in November 2010 made headline news when President Gbagbo refused to leave the presidential residence for months. He claimed voter fraud, intimidation and constitutional irregularities robbed him of the election.

Fighting broke out leaving hundreds dead. Forces loyal to President Oattara began a military offensive and were joined by UN and French soldiers. When all was said and done the UN, France and other countries recognized the election of President Ouattara.

“Disputes in U.S. elections are settled by the constitution. What about the Ivorian constitution? Why wasn’t it used to settle the election,” asked Rev. Tohou Bah, from Langston College in Oklahoma who is from Ivory Coast.

“In the U.S. there was once a fight between the U.S. and England. The U.S. said no we want liberty. Today Ivorians are saying, ‘No we want our freedom.’ … Many of the rebels who are attacking the people are French … There is not a day in the West where rebels are not killing the people.”

Mr. Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 and flown to The Hague in November. He faces four charges before the International Criminal Court on crimes against humanity.

Mainstream media presented President Ouattara as the legitimate winner of the elections, Mr. Gbagbo as a “strongman,” a “renegade” and the country’s crisis as a civil war, a clash between tribes.

“Don’t fall for that political trap. We are suffering. We are all originals from the Western part of the country. We have to be very clear and think about our future. Our continent is a victim of a Western crusade. We saw the same thing in Libya where the international community, which is really France, England and the U.S., imposed powers,” said Toussaint Alain, who traveled from Paris to attend the meeting in Washington.

“I’m deeply concerned for Africa. The more the recession worsens (around the world), the more the risk is borne by African countries. The international community (U.S., France and England) feeds themselves on the destabilization of Africa to ensure their development,” he said.

The political uncertainty in this small West African country continues. A parliamentary election in December saw few voters interested in casting ballots.

“France has financed a murdering rebellion that has killed 10,000 people. President Gbagbo wouldn’t lay down for France,” said Mr. Alain. “Today everything, almost everything belongs to France. It was just announced that banks would be privatized, of course for huge profits for France. Westerners’ true motivation is oil. The best way to make sure these countries are always supplied is to impose governments at will. It is the new imperialism.

“We have to fight this new imperialism. The voice of Africa has to be taken into account. Africans must fix African conflicts. We have to stop being subjected to the will of Western countries.”

Dr. Oumar Mariko is a presidential candidate in nearby Mali. A physician by training, he’s a politician and former student activist. “The situation in Africa will revolt every man and woman if they knew the truth. Africa is really a victim of European and American barbarism. There will be no durable solution, no salvation in this if Africa doesn’t stand up.

“People say Africa needs democracy but we don’t need their democracy. Those under fire don’t see the arsonist who set them on fire. They only see the fireman coming like programs from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.”

He argued Africa is allowed to have bad elections and when complaints come about illegal and unlawful elections, Africans are told, “Oh well they don’t even have elections in the Ivory Coast and they’re killing people in Burkina Faso. Be patient democracy will come to Africa soon.

“In Mali we don’t need this kind of democracy. Fifty-six percent of Malians don’t have $1 a day, out of 15 million people only three million have electricity. That is the democracy we have. There is misery everywhere. Unemployment is out of proportion, famine is knocking on every door and corruption is everywhere.”

A. Akbar Muhammad, international representative of the Nation of Islam, spoke at the end of the conference. “The Western press shapes what we know about Africa and its all negative. They shape the way Africa is viewed. They see Africa as a place where nothing happens but negativity. We have to make a marriage between Africans in the Diaspora and Africans who come here for a better life and work. We can change this reality,” he said.

Other speakers included Eugene Puryear from the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition and Debra Kipene from the Congo who went to Cote D’Ivoire to aid refugees.

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