Monday, March 05, 2007

Ivorian Peace Deal, part VII

Marcoussis. Pretoria. Accra. What do these three names have in common?

They are the locations where previous peace deals to end the Côte d'Ivoire civil war were signed.

(I think three previous peace accords were signed in Accra and two in Marcoussis)

Now, you can add Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou to the list. A peace deal was signed there yesterday between the Ivorian head of state Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro.

So I'm a bit skeptical that this peace agreement will hold where the previous six did not. I suppose it's easy to be skeptical. Signing a peace of paper is easy. But upholding the principles expressed on that piece of paper is a lot harder. And so far, there hasn't been much political good faith demonstrated in Côte d'Ivoire.

Some are more optimistic. "What is different this time is that the two major protagonists have agreed, and have negotiated directly," explained Dr Mohammed ibn-Chambas, head of the West African regional body ECOWAS. Gbagbo and Soro were both personally involved in the deliberations.

Also, the involvement of Burkina Faso is seen as a plus. The Pandora's Box of 'Ivoirité,' the nasty xenophobia that was whipped up starting in the mid-90s, was almost exclusively directed at Burkinbè migrant workers in Côte d'Ivoire.

There are also hints that Soro would be named prime minster.

I suppose one has to allow a shred of optimism. Côte d'Ivoire is a key country and economy in West Africa. Let's hope that both sides, particularly the nationalist xenophobic 'Jeunes patriotes' thugs nominally behind Gbagbo, give this agreement a chance to work.

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