It feels like Africa has never been in the news as much as this year. Ivory Coast’s elections last year, which left the country with two men claiming presidency and a lurking threat of civil war, received unprecedented coverage earlier in the year. Not to mention the two North African revolutions, and the ongoing war in Libya.
However, Ivory Coast’s catastrophic fate isn’t breaking news anymore. It seems that both the media and public interest are not programmed to cater for long-term concern over one matter. The conversation has moved on.
The international recognition of Alassane Ouattara as victor of the November 23rd elections and the sanctions imposed on his rival, Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to step down, are making the situation difficult to resolve. As a result, the country’s economy has collapsed. Hundreds of people have been killed; hundreds of thousands have fled their homes to escape violence; women demonstrators have been heartlessly murdered as seen in this brutal video here.
Nigeria’s foreign minister, Odein Ajumogobia, has accused the international community of double standards by imposing the no-fly zone in Libya while ignoring Ivory Coast. Even Ouattara, has accused his western allies of not doing enough to protect the country’s civilians.
Although there are disagreements on the methods the coalition are using to attack Ghaddafi, the question everyone nevertheless seems to be asking is what is the difference between Ivory Coast and Libya? The sobering answer seems to be that one country is rich in oil whilst the other ‘only’ has cocoa.
Since the international community is uninterested in protecting Ivory Coast’s citizens, the next question is can the African Union do it?
Considering that the AU spent months debating whether to support Ouattara or not, then agreeing to do so in March but nonetheless electing a mediator who Ouattara claims has ‘personal ties’ with Gbagbo, it is fair to say that the AU seem unlikely to resolve the situation.
The reality is that the conflict, whose roots can be found in international agendas, is no longer on the international agenda. Sadly, a forgotten humanitarian disaster is steadily developing.