Cote D’Ivoire: Clumsy field as polls draw near
By Richard Mammah
The fast approaching presidential elections in Cote D’Ivoire is indeed a clumsy field, a patchwork of seriously confounding issues and arguments.
As things stand now, and from all field indications, the candidate to beat is incumbent President Alasane Ouattara. He has run the country for two terms and done fairly well in building the national economy and holding back a lot of the open dissension that had led the nation into its war-torn past.
But that is not all the story. While the current administration headed by Ouattara has maintained basic peace a lot of the intra-elite disputations in the country have not really been addressed. This is part of the fuel against his campaign for the presidency this time around.
Again, and perhaps even more fundamental is the fact that Ouattara was not even supposed to be in the race and had indeed told the nation so long before now. Until his anointed successor and former Prime Minister died. And he accepted the ‘call of his party to return to the field in the national interest.’
But this capitulation to run again has now put him in the league and mould of ambitious African leaders who deploy executive fiat and strong will into literally railroading their ‘drained’ populations into accepting the sterile argument that they need ‘the messiah’ to continue to breathe. Sad.
But then, if Ouattara’s candidacy is clearly a blighted one, he is sadly also not alone in this. Many of the leading lights in the opposition are also similarly blighted in one way or the other. From Henri Konan Bedie to Guillaume Soros to Laurent Gbagbo, it is a field of players that you really cannot fully account for. And for good measure, the incumbency machine has also moved and continues to move against them. Democracy needs help in Cote D’Ivoire.
To be on firmer ground, what Cote D’Ivoire and Ouattara needed was the grooming of new leaders right from when Ouattara was elected for his first term. And it is not enough to say the one he had groomed died out on him. Leadership is a field. It is not a particular person. Ouattara failed. And should he, against this backdrop still go ahead to win, he must at the least pledge in his post-victory address, never to run again! It is the least he must do.
But then there is also a broader sense in which this clumsy field somewhat approximates the larger field of global political play. In the United States for example, voters are braced to go to the polls in the next few weeks, and it is very clear that they are doing so with what the economist would describe as ‘a heavy heart.’ The world indeed is in a political bind. And there are simply no clear options as to how to unlock this complication that surely has grave implications for all of us going forward. Indeed, ‘all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ But in all of this, Cote D’Ivoire and Africa needs Ouattara to do what is right at this time. Lose gallantly if that is the wish of the people or commit in the national interest to not run again after now, should they yet tolerate him and freely give him the vote. It is not too much to ask for.
To be continued…
President Alasane Ouattara of Cote D’Ivoire