Article written

  • on 27.01.2011
  • at 03:58 PM
  • by Staff

Côte d’Ivoire: voices of reason sidelined in the crisis 0

ABIDJAN – An increasingly belligerent and deeply partisan political rhetoric has come to dominate Côte d’Ivoire since the country’s post-electoral crisis, leaving little room for voices of moderation.

With Laurent Gbagbo drawing much of his support from the largely Christian south and Alassane Ouattara strongly associated with the predominantly Muslim north, the polarization has also taken on a religious dimension.

The worsening internal tensions have been hugely frustrating for civil society activists, many of whom invested considerable energy and hope in the elections, mobilizing voters and arguing the case for peaceful participation. Despite the unpromising political background, human rights campaigners and women’s rights activists continue to seek a platform.

A selection of prominent campaigners spoke to IRIN about their concerns and their sense of disappointment at being sidelined at a time when they are most needed.

Margueritte Yoli-Bi, national coordinator, West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP)

“For me the priority is positive communication. With this crisis, communication is polarized around the political parties and that does not help matters. We need positive communication to get back to the truth away from political passions.

“We have to respect those who are not politicians. You have to respect the population and their rights, their right to free speech, the right to health, the right to go to school and so on.

“We don’t hear about the needs of the people anywhere. When you look at the television or read the papers, nowhere do you hear about the rising cost of living or hospitals and schools that are no longer working, you only hear about politics. It’s not right. It’s not right that people are dying, women are dying, people don’t have enough to eat; they eat only once a day and people are only talking about politics. You can’t eat politics. People have fundamental rights, the right to survive, and these must be spoken of.

“A population consists of different shades of opinion. It is enriched by its contradictions. Civil society is impartial now, and should stay so. People should be able talk to each other freely for the well-being of the population.

“Among all the mediators who came to Côte d’Ivoire we did not see any women, or very few. We saw the delegations from the UN, ECOWAS the Economic Community of West African States, and AU African Union and there were no women. And even to meet these delegations, we had to force our way in to be received, even though we women are in the majority in the country. We make up at least 51 percent of the voters registered, so our position must be taken into account.

“Nowadays there is no recognized national delegation doing what we are trying to do, going from one side to the other, listening and giving the other’s point of view.

“To make ourselves heard we have to pay to get our statements published in the private press. How many people read them? Most of the population is illiterate. If we send our statements to the television station they do not get aired. You have to go the local radio stations. But these stations have now been told not to cover anything related to the situation.

“Achieving social cohesion now is going to be a very arduous and a long-term task.”

Source: IRIN – Continue Reading on IRIN

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi