By Tikum Mbah Azonga
This paper is an adaptation of an earlier one I delivered on the Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) on the 7.30 prime time national radio news programme of the 17th of November 2004. This paper was one of hundreds of political chronicles I delivered on the news programme from 2002 to 2005. It was motivated by the imposition of by part of the international committee, of sanctions on the warring factions of Cote d`Ivoire at that time.
The arms embargo was in a way, a last resort, for several other attempts aimed at quenching the figurative fire burning in Côte d`Ivoire had failed. Among these were efforts made at the international level, with France, playing a major role, at getting together the warring factions, that is, President Laurent Gbagbo and the break way group.
The embargo bans the entry of arms into Côte D’Ivoire for thirteen months. This means that neither President Gbagbo nor the rebels, as they have come to be known, can arm or re-arm themselves with imported weapons. Worse for Gbagbo is his inability to rebuild the air fleet that was destroyed by French military fire recently. The 46 000 –strong troops in Côte D׳Ivoire inflicted this setback on Gbagbo’s forces in retaliation for the killing of nine French soldiers by Ivorians angry about the presence of French troops on their soil. Gbagbo himself has accused France of seeking to bring about a coup d’état.
The crisis has done a lot of damage to Côte D’Ivoire, West Africa’s second largest economy and the world’s largest cocoa producer. The African Development Bank, a multi billion dollar multinational firm, has had to move its headquarters from Abidjan to Tunis in Tunisia. The civil war has cost lives and property and led to exodus into neighboring countries as well as displacements internally. The country is torn apart by lawlessness, crime, disease and insecurity. In all of this, the rebels have accused Gbagbo of flouting the terms of the power sharing government they went into and of discriminating against the predominantly Muslim North.
Obviously, it is not hard to see that one strong force Côte D’Ivoire needs as it grapples with these first time problems and struggles to rebuild its base, is national unity. The political foundation is weak and wobbly and the powers that be do not know how to hold it together. If that is not thee case, how does one explain how Laurent Gbagbo who only some years ago attended the convention of Cameroon’s main opposition party, the SDF here in Yaoundé, as Opposition Leader in Cote d`Ivoire, went on to become the president of his country but now finds power to be too much of a hot potato on his hands? Surely, such a state of affairs proves that having power is not enough; it is also to necessary to know how to wield it, otherwise it becomes another Frankenstein, or a monster of ones own making, that devours its creator.
Whatever is the case, Côte D’Ivoire is a reminder for Cameroonians to guard jealously the peace that reigns in their country. So, it is worth remembering that without peace, nothing works. As a result, let peace continue to be rated highly by Cameroonians.