Thursday, April 14, 2011

Strongman Out, Ivory Coast Is Reviving

First time, I'd heard Ivory Coast through the famous footballer Drogba. And, he also had played in the last World Cup. Now also, he is known as the top most footballer in the World.
And, last August I met a friend from Ivory Coast. He was Koffi Kra Michale Bembele, information officer. I forgot his Ministry's name, jus I remembered his minister. She was female.
We studied together four months in Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi for last August to November. He was very helpful and very humorous.
During that period, the general election was held in his country. And, I think then after, also, started conflict.
I just read this news in New York Times and remember Koffi. And, I want wish him he always be happy. I want ask him again and again, "My friend Koffi, plz, sing a Hindi song." Then he'll sing again and again, "Karakuri karakuri," with is humorous gesture. Then? We all will laugh again and again.
Koffi, how are you? Are you okay?

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Fresh produce appeared on market stalls. Women carried sacks of grain on their heads. Children skipped rope in the street. Men sipped coffee in outdoor cafes.
Soldiers loyal to Alassane Ouattara on Wednesday captured two men suspected of being militiamen of Laurent Gbagbo.
Life began inching back to normal on Wednesday in this city battered by a week of combat, months of economic collapse and the grip of a defeated ruler who refused to step down.
Two days after opposition forces stormed the presidential residence and seized the nation’s strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, residents ventured through a landscape of burned-out vehicles from last week’s combat, shattered glass from waves of looting, fields of uncollected garbage abandoned for months and occasional bursts of gunfire. The central business district, Plateau, continued to be largely empty, gripped by armed looting, a resident said, and with snipers in the tall buildings.
Signs of renewal elsewhere in this sprawling port city were unmistakable. In places, the tension of previous months, when fear of Mr. Gbagbo’s security forces kept streets emptied, was gone. The ubiquitous roadblocks operated by militant armed youths supporting Mr. Gbagbo had disappeared, replaced by occasional gun-swinging detachments from the irregular forces of Alassane Ouattara, the man who won the election last year but is only now taking over as president. They let people through, though.
In some neighborhoods, residents expressed hope and relief that the five-month crisis was now over, and Mr. Ouattara told reporters at his makeshift hotel-headquarters here that he would get immediately to work restoring the country. Still, Mr. Ouattara acknowledged the delicate security situation, the looting by gunmen and the need to hold all combatants accountable for human rights abuses, including his own men.
Mr. Gbagbo, captured on Monday after his defenses were severely weakened by a French and United Nations bombing campaign, was packed into a helicopter shortly after noon on Wednesday and sent to the north of the country, the United Nations office here said. He will be kept in a villa under guard, Mr. Ouattara said, noting that his justice minister was looking into possible prosecution. He said Mr. Gbagbo would be treated “with consideration.”
A commission would be established, Mr. Ouattara said, to establish “the truth of what has happened” during the turbulent and murky 12 years of coup d’états, civil war, Mr. Gbagbo’s violent ascension to power and his brutal repression of dissent. “We need to shed light on all this,” Mr. Ouattara said. “Ivorians need to know what has happened.” He struck a conciliatory note, saying the strongman’s officials would be “totally protected” from physical aggression.
Mr. Ouattara, a former prime minister and International Monetary Fund official, whose degree in economics and ubiquitous dark suit is matched by the sobriety of his tone, offers a contrast to the populist, rabble-rousing Mr. Gbagbo, himself a former professor. Emphasizing the details of reconstruction, Mr. Ouattara said he would restore electricity and water, and get the banks — which have been closed since West African leaders cut off Mr. Gbagbo’s government from the regional central bank — working again. “We are going to get to work,” Mr. Ouattara said, “and in a few months we will see a rehabilitated Ivory Coast.”
Sitting outside at Le Petit Café du Grand Nord, in a largely pro-Ouattara district of the sprawling Koumassi neighborhood, several customers said the process had already begun. Merely to be sitting there at all was a good sign, they said. It had been too dangerous in the previous months because Mr. Gbagbo’s security forces would descend without warning and begin shooting.
“Life is picking up, slowly, slowly,” said Laye Konaté. “People are going back to work. For the future, we have hope that there is going to be peace.” Mohamed Diakité, watching a woman across the street shaving coconuts at a stall, said: “It’s over. It’s finished. We have been terrorized and traumatized.”
Despite the optimism, “a grave humanitarian situation” continued in the country, the United Nations humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, told the Security Council on Wednesday. She noted that hospitals and schools remained closed, families were living without food, while some neighborhoods were without electricity. She said there were 800,000 internally displaced people. “Despite the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo, the humanitarian situation in Côte D’Ivoire remains deeply troubling," she said.
The supporters of the captured strongman were not as much in evidence on Wednesday, and their outlook was less rosy. Next to the looted, burned-out Treichville headquarters of Mr. Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front Party, residents were in an angry mood.
“Get back in your car and get out of here,” a Gbagbo supporter shouted, in response to inquiries.
Forces loyal to Mr. Ouattara have been accused of killing hundreds of civilians in the nation’s west, and going door to door in parts of Abidjan, searching for Gbagbo supporters. But in both Koumassi and Marcory, an adjoining neighborhood, the Ouattara supporters argued that there had been no witch hunts aimed at Gbagbo supporters.
A carpenter with the same name as the president — Alassane Ouattara — said he had just emerged from months of hiding, because of his name. “We’re hoping the pro-Gbagbos have disappeared,” he said. “We have suffered too much.”
Dan Bilefsky contributed reporting from the United Nations

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