Political Crisis in Ivory Coast
Fr Brice Bado SJ Speaks on the Political Crisis in Ivory Coast
General elections in Ivory Coast are scheduled for October 31st. President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to stand for a third term has led to a crisis in Ivorian politics which has unleashed a wave of pre-election violence. Fr. Brice Bado, SJ describes this period of the political campaign as a bus that zigzags and rocks on a bumpy road. It is on this basis that Fr. Bado calls for the postponement of the upcoming elections. Fueling the violence is the clearance by the courts of President Quatarra to run for a third term despite claims of having committed crimes while in office, as well as those same courts closing out the candidacy of Minister Guillaume Soro. The people of the Ivory Coast have expressed their dissatisfaction in the system that clears those they deem unfit to run for the presidency. The government has proceeded to gag the freedom of association of the masses. Dialogue has been replaced by confrontation and it is on this basis that Fr. Bado is calling on all leaders to return to the bargaining table. The situation in Ivory Coast is by no means unique. It is the same script that is playing out in Uganda, where the current president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has likewise presented himself as a candidate in the upcoming general elections. The story of this campaign period is the same with some of the key contenders facing harassment by the police and confiscation of their campaign items. Many of them have also been locked in cells for days with no charges. Among these are Stella Nyanzi, who has this script was written all over her face, as well as the popular youthful Robert Ssentamu, otherwise known as Bobi Wine, who has also been the subject of harassment by the very government that should be protecting him and upholding his human rights. People are increasingly frustrated. The masses are mobilized and have been engaged in unruly behavior, protesting without much to show for it. Lives are being lost, and people are feeling the financial strain of the unrest. Politicians are using this turmoil to advance their own ends, leaving young people particularly disaffected. This is the political context to which Fr. Bado is calling a truce. The people of Ivory Coast deserve better and the Ivorian future is much bigger than the interests of individual politicians clinging to power at all costs. Peace may prove to be a mirage if the parties cannot find a way back to dialogue, as Fr. Bado hopes for.