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Ivory Coast: French Firepower And Diplomacy Do The Right Thing

Editorial: The French daily Le Figaro gives a warm applause to the government for its timely and efficient intervention to help oust strongman Laurent Gbagbo

Ivory Coast: French Firepower And Diplomacy Do The Right Thing
Pierre Rousselin

PARIS - The fall of Laurent Gbagbo sends a basic yet important message to the rest of the world: anyone who loses an election should pack up and go. It is a message that concerns Africa probably more than any other continent, and one that deserved full engagement from France and of the rest of the international community.

It is, however, a shame that four months of crisis and violent combat was needed to reach this result, that the stubbornness of a single man, who for five long years has denied his people of their lawful democratic elections, had to bring the Ivory Coast into such a sad and bloody mess. Fortunately, Gbagbo has been captured alive so that he can answer for his acts. His trial will be the foundation of a new Africa.

Ivory Coast deserves so much better than what it got these last years. Alassane Ouattara has a huge job ahead of him to rebuild and reconcile this big country with itself, with the help of the international community and France. He will need to be firm but generous with his opponents, and impose the same authority over his allies. Whether he shall fail or succeed in doing that will also be a test for the future of the continent. Because the stakes are so high, foreign countries have to continue supporting Ivory Coast and help it get back up on its feet economically, which is a priority.

France has played an essential role in Ivory Coast, despite being active in the Libyan war as well. It pulled its share of the weight despite a sometimes very stormy relationship with its former colony, and did everything necessary to promote international legality.

Accusations of a "neo-colonial conspiracy" can only be part of Gbagbo's propagandistic fantasies. Ouattara's victory at the polls has been recognized by the Organization of African Unity and by the Economic Community of West African States. No action has been taken without an explicit mandate from the United Nations; the Unicorn Operation, the French Armed Forces's peacekeeping operation, has only acted in support of the United Nations Operation in Ivory Coast.

Alain Le Roy, under secretary general for peacekeeping at the United Nations, deserves much credit for the way in which he has combined the United Nations' legitimacy with France's military capacity. This has allowed the international organization to restore its image and our country to resolve a major crisis.

Read the original article in French.

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