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French-African Policy 'Partly to Blame' for Ivorian Crisis

By Ruth Nabakwe, Panafrican News Agency, 18 October 2000

Paris, France—Noel Mamere, a leading deputy of the Greens political party, a partner in the ruling coalition of the French socialist-led government, Wednesday blamed the evolving political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire on France’s Africa policy.

Such a policy never assisted true democracy to take root on the continent hence the support by France of former Ivorian President Bedie and the now post-colonial military take-overs of power on the continent by those claiming to be democrats, declared Mamere.

He accused France of supporting dictatorial regimes in Africa over the years, resulting in the exclusion of certain political parties as has happened in Cote d’Ivoire.

The parliamentarian was speaking at a press conference convened by the Greens party at the French National Assembly.

He alleged that a French General, whom he did not name, had travelled to Cote d’Ivoire 20 September in the company of six other Frenchmen some of whom were suspected to be mercenaries, to reinforce the Security of junta leader Gen. Robert Guei.

Mamere warned that the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire could spill over into neighbouring states.

Therefore, he said, all Ivorian political parties and civil society should be involved in re-defining the rules of politics to get rid of the exclusion of certain political parties from the electoral process.

He urged the international community not to recognise the results of the planned 22 October elections in Cote d’Ivoire.

The parliamentarian said at the planned France-Africa heads of State summit in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde in 2001, a parallel summit would be held at the same venue to be attended by various French and African organisations based in Paris, including the Greens party representatives.

He said the alternative summit would press demands for a change of France-Africa policy, adding that France should immediately ratify the UN convention forbidding the recruitment of mercenaries.

According to the Greens party deputy, Western countries including France could not be indifferent to the situation in Cote d’Ivoire but had a moral responsibility to ensure that the country does not de-generate into chaos.

Wednesday’s press conference was called to register the concerns of the Greens Party and France-based Africans about the potentially catastrophic situation in Cote d’Ivoire.

It was attended by Africans representing a co-ordinated, united front of various political groups from West African countries worried by the situation in Cote d’Ivoire.

The group included Collective of Ivorians of France for Democracy, CIFD, ADEMA of Mali, UFD of Guinea Conakry, UFD-EN of Mauritania and AJ-PADS of Senegal.

Seck Kader of PAD Senegal welcomed the support of the Greens political party and other French organisations concerned about the need for true democracy in Africa.

He, however, stated that African peoples must realise that it was their responsibility to be at the forefront of such a struggle for true democracy.

Kader said the co-ordinated political group seeks to demonstrate that the tensions in Cote d’Ivoire could happen anywhere else in Africa.

He said Africans regardless of their different countries should always rally to support true democracy in each other’s country to help lay a strong foundation of governance based on the respect of fundamental principles of true democracy.

Speaking at the same occasion, Kouyate Oumou of the CIFD group stated that the events in Cote d’Ivoire were reminiscent of the situation in Guinea Conakry where a leading opposition political figure, Alpha Conde, was hounded by the authorities.

The struggle in Cote d’Ivoire is similar to the struggle in Guinea Conakry. It is the politics of exclusion that we are totally against, she stressed.