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From wwnews-report@wwpublish.com Wed Feb 19 10:00:15 2003
From: WW News Service <wwnews@wwpublish.com>
Sender: WW News Service <wwnews@wwpublish.com>
To: WW News Service <wwnews@wwpublish.com>
Subject: wwnews Digest #583
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 09:31:06 -0500

From: <wwnews@wwpublish.com> (WW)
Message-ID: <029301c2d817$72bfe020$6701a8c0@4liberation.com>
Subject: [WW] France and U.S. maneuver over Ivory Coast
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 08:04:33 -0500

France and the U.S. maneuver over Ivory Coast

By G. Dunkel, Workers World, 20 February 2003

While the Ivory Coast itself grows poorer, and renewed violence threatens to burst out into a civil war, the imperialist governments of France and the United States are both colluding and colliding over this African nation.

The current crisis began in September 2002, after a failed coup attempt led to fighting and rebel movements took over the northern and western parts of the country. These movements recently united and now form a national opposition to the government of President Laurent Gbagbo.

In September French forces, from their bases in Africa, and U.S. forces, from a transit base in neighboring Ghana, arrived quickly. The pretext was moving French and U.S. citizens to safer quarters.

Le Pays, a newspaper published in Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast’s northern neighbor, pointed out that the dispatch of these troops confirms the neocolonial designs of France. It’s impossible to even imagine, wrote Le Pays, that the Ivory Coast might send its troops to France to save its citizens who are being mistreated there. This goes double, of course, for the United States.

The French troops then turned their attention to propping up Gbagbo’s regime and stopping the rebellion’s advance. But the rebellion and the opposition to both Gbagbo and the French had deeper roots and more support than the French had counted on.

In areas they controlled, the opposition mounted a number of anti- imperialist demonstrations against the French. Opposition forces also had some fairly sharp military skirmishes with French troops, blocking their advance.

So France decided it would hold a national conference of the Ivoirean people&@8212;with a French politician as chair&@8212;in Marcoussis, a rugby arena near Paris, Jan. 23-26.

The agreement that came out of Marcoussis proposed a unity government in which the main rebel group would supply the head of the national police and the army, while Gbagbo would remain president.

After the agreement was signed, the French got United Nations Security Council Resolution 1464 passed, unanimously endorsing Marcoussis. This resolution also authorized the presence of French troops, with a contingent from the Economic Community of West African States under French command. Both the United States and Britain voted for this resolution.

Once the details became known in the Ivory Coast, Gbagbo’s faction organized huge demonstrations outside the French Embassy and the French barracks in Abidjan. Protesters waved Ivoirean and U.S. flags and carried signs in English saying, USA: we need your help.

After the demonstrations, the French brought in reinforcements and the United States also sent in a small contingent of soldiers. (Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 6)

The situation in the Ivory Coast is still very fluid.

The Ivory Coast, with a diversified economy and the world’s largest cocoa production industry, has been the most profitable of the French neocolonies in West Africa. However, U.S. imperialism is taking advantage of popular anger at the former colonial power to try and take a major step in supplanting France in Africa. It is doing so at a time when Washington has also been leaning heavily on France, demanding support for Bush’s war on Iraq, so far without success.