Monday, August 22, 2005

Former Ivorian army chief threatens coup

More bad news for Côte d'Ivoire, as if the place didn't have enough problems with stability. The country's former army chief, Gen. Mathias Doué, has threatened to depose President Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo sacked Doué from his post last November. Doué is seen a political moderate and his removal surely pleased the radical, xenophobic Jeunes patriotes militias who are nominally aligned to Gbagbo.

Doué said that if the international community does not commit itself to getting rid of the president peacefully, he will do what it takes himself, reports Voice of America.

Meanwhile, former army spokesman Jules Yao Yao told the French News Agency Saturday, that many members of the army are prepared to fight against President Gbagbo.

Gbagbo alternates between conciliatory and hardline talk. This schizophrenia suggests that he's torn. Torn between the radical, violent xenophobes he's refused to distance himself from and what I suspect are his natural instincts toward moderation and pragmatism.

But what constitutes pragmatism in a no-win situation?

If he compromises, there's a strong chance he may be deposed, or even assassinated, by the radicals. That's exactly what happened to Rwandan strongman Juvénal Habyrimana when he signed a peace agreement with his country's rebels in 1993; and we all know what happened next. If he doesn't compromise (or resign), he risks being overthrown by the army.

And since the source of tension is far greater than him alone, the country's fundamental divisions wouldn't suddenly healed merely by a Gbagbo resignation..

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