Respecting the wishes of the people

The prognoses are not good for peace in La Cote d’Ivoire. And this is the time for the leadership in the West African sub-region to stand up and be counted. The inability of the Ivorian Electoral Commission to announce the results of Sunday’s presidential run-off has the potential of re-igniting the tension that drove the nation to civil war in 2002/2003.

That is why we are alarmed at the impunity with which Damana Adia Pickass, a representative of incumbent Head of State, Laurent Gbagbo, on the Electoral Commission, tore up results from three regions, that were about to be read.

The action has inflamed passions, and the only redeeming feature is for Pickass to be seriously reprimanded, and the Electoral Commissioner allowed to officially declare the winner of the polls. The people have spoken, and no one should stand in the way of the wishes of the people.

From all indications, President Gbagbo has lost. The way and manner his aides are grumbling about results from the north seem to suggest that he is a bad loser.

If there are problems with the outcome of the vote from certain areas, the courts are there to deal with the issue. The answer does not lie in officials taking the law into their own hands and mutilating official records.

Gbagbo was elected to serve a five-year term as Head of State of a divided country. He managed to hang on to power without the mandate of the people for five more years. To his credit, the nation is once again united.

But that does not give him the power to dictate terms that could not be supported by the laws of the land. If the people have decided to ask him to leave Government House in Yamoussoukro, he should not stand in the way of their verdict.

We do not believe it is in anybody’s interest to allow Cote d’Ivoire to burst into flames once more. The repercussions on the resources of neighbouring countries, particularly Ghana, would not be easy to manage.

This is the time that West Africa, and particularly Ghana, should stand up and be counted. We expect President John Evans Atta Mills to lead from the front. Gbagbo should be made to understand that no individual is more important than the entire country. That is why The Chronicle expects leadership in the sub-region to read the riots act to the shamed Ivorian leader.

Gbagbo should leave the scene quietly, and allow the process of swearing in the new leader to take place peacefully.

We do not have every reason to believe that Allassan Ouattara has won the vote. We congratulate him for putting up a good fight. In a moment like this, he should realise that there are no winners and losers. There is only a country to salvage!

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