|Excerpt / Summary|
What we know: Cote D'Ivoire is the only country with two presidents. After the opposition won a long-delayed presidential election last month, the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo simply decided not to go. He's named a cabinet and even taken the oath of office -- while his rival, election winner Alassane Ouattara, has set up his own rival government in a nearby hotel. What we learn: Oddly enough, last year, Cote D'Ivoire's president, Laurent Gbagbo, actually wanted to face Alassane Ouattara in a run-off election. Apparently, Gbagbo believed that he could win, thanks to the support of key ethnic groups, according to a State Department source quoted in a June 2009 Abidjan Embassy cable. Now, 18 months later, Gbagbo seems unable to accept the truth: He lost to Ouattara. The 2009 cable, entitled "Elections in Cote D'Ivoire: the Myth and the Reality," explains the various reasons that Gbagbo was reluctant to hold the election in the first place. (The presidential poll held this year was originally scheduled for 2005, and had been pushed back every year thereafter.) "There will not be an election unless President Gbagbo is confident that he will win it," the cable reads. The trouble was that the president's party held a minority of voter support, and he would need a coalition with a smaller party to win. Interestingly, the cable notes, "Reliable sources indicate that Gbagbo has tried since at least 2007 to cut a deal with Alassane Ouattara, president of the RDR, but has not succeeded." Having failed, the report continues: Gbagbo recently told a well-placed source that he wants to face Alassane Ouattara in the second round (no one expects a winner to emerge from the first round) because he (Gbagbo) believes that the ethnic groups who traditionally support the PDCI [a third party] will vote FPI [Gbagbo's party], rather that support an RDR leader [Ouattara] who has links to the rebellion. Gbagbo apparently miscalculated his appeal. The result today is a government torn between two camps -- and soon potentially at war. Cote D'Ivoire was expelled from the African Union and the regional West African grouping ECOWAS earlier this week. The United Nations, the United States, and France have all called on Gbagbo to step down. But so far he's not budging. The curveball: Among Gbagbo's new cabinet ministers is another character who appears in WikiLeaks: Charles Blé Goudé. Put under U.N. sanctions in 2006 for inciting violence against the United Nations, Goudé's re-emergence is depicted in a leaked 2008 cable which noted that the former rebel leader was trying to re-introduce himself into civilian life à la warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor (a worrying model considering that Taylor is now on trial in The Hague for war crimes). But it's clear why Gbagbo would want him as an ally: Goudé can "easily motivate and mobilize" youth from formerly militant camps, which "raises concerns about Gbagbo's genuine commitment" to peace. Fittingly, Goudé is Gbagbo's new youth minister.