Leaking a President out of Power


The provisional vote totals leaked to press and governments, are bad news for President Gbagbo.

The Cote d’Ivoire presidential elections drama, after decades of civil war and chicanery, has proven in its final act to be, well, dramatic.

Even wire reports are saying that the vote totals are confirmed, with Alassane Ouattara (representing both the conservative parties heir to Félix Houphouët-Boigny and the marginalized Muslim north) taking between 53% and 55% of the total vote. It seems this is a further lesson, if one is needed, of the inability of governments to contain bad news in the internet age.

A PDF floating around, supposedly a scan of the electoral commission totals, is making the rounds of Ivorian government offices and foreign capitals.

There’s no way of confirming this yet. There’s no meta info in the file, but it shows reasonable totals by Region and Departement (with a margin of error column to the right cut off, suggesting it is the provisional result). It seems to be a report generated from an Excel spreadsheet, as it has the distinctive Excel “division by zero” error code of “#DIV/0!” in a couple of places. There are no seals.

The results, if even close, are damning: 55.01% to ADO for 44.99% Gbagbo (the 100% suggests either completeness or falseness). In some places in the north, ADO is shown with over 80%, even over 90% of some Departements. If Gbagbo’s strategy is to contest northern results, he will have to win MANY disputed stations to make up for ADO’s competitive results elsewhere.

As with so many elections in West Africa, the ruling President Laurent Gbagbo‘s closest supporters seem determined to win at all costs. The latest rumors go that those around Gbagbo, unwilling either to give up their lucrative positions, or fearing investigation into their past dealings, are pushing for a state of emergency, declarable by the President under Article 48 of the 2000 Constitution.

Art. 48. Lorsque les Institutions de la République, l’indépendance de la Nation, l’intégrité de son territoire ou l’exécution de ses engagements internationaux sont menacées d’une manière grave et immédiate, et que le fonctionnement régulier des pouvoirs publics constitutionnels est interrompu, le Président de la République prend les mesures exceptionnelles exigées par ces circonstances après consultation obligatoire du Président de l’Assemblée nationale et de celui du Conseil constitutionnel. Il en informe la Nation par message. L’Assemblée nationale se réunit de plein droit.

Of course there is no grave and immediate threat to the Nation, Institutions of the Republic, territorial integrity, or international obligations. At least not one that has developed in the last few days or months. State TV (RTI) is reportedly been running interviews (on a 24/7 loop) with Gbagbo supporters in the north who claim grave irregularities in the areas controlled by the New Forces rebel movement of the Prime Minister. That these troops were disarmed or integrated into government forces prior to the election (at least according to the government) is one point which doesn’t ring true. That international observers are not reporting any systemic abuse at northern voting stations is another.

Gbagbo’s supporters disrupted an attempt to read provisional results by the CEI voting commission on 11/30. Today (12/1) is the last day votes may legally be chalenged, so the window of legality is closing. Time is another enemy of Gbagbo’s supporters.

Finally, the internationally community is not their friend. The UN mission there has certified the election as fair, and called on the results to be released immediately. The EU, France, The US, and a variety of foreign observers have as well. Reports are that these nations, with the help of the Burkinabe Embassy, are negotiating a climb down.

What is frightening is that Gbagbo’s cronies are the ones with the least to lose from pushing the nation back into civil war. The President is missing his chance to either retire as a statesman or head the opposition, and his exile or prosecution by the next government becomes more likely the more he resists. But the influential business people allegedly grouped around his wife, parliamentary leader Simone Ehivet Gbagbo have more to lose from allowing him to retire. Prosecutions will likely follow in the coming years, and their resources will surely dry up. Simone has already come under suspicion in the events surrounding the 2004 death of French-Canadian journalist Guy-André Kieffer, who disappeared while investigating cocoa industry corruption. The paramilitary forces of ultra nationalist thugs like Charles Blé Goudé may find a future without Gbagbo’s protection rather dangerous.

Purported Results of the Second Round

  • Generally very good Wikipedia background on the 2010 election : English & French

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