Wednesday, November 17, 2004
A Quagmire of their own.
Backing the rebels.
The Ivory Coast reopened the nation's civil war Nov. 4 with airstrikes on the rebel-held north. Two days later, Ivory Coast warplanes bombed a French peacekeeping post, killing nine French troops and an American aid worker and plunging the world's top cocoa producer into its current unprecedented crisis.
France then blew up Ivory Coast's air force on the tarmac.
As a result, the backers of the government in power went on a rampage, attacking many Europeans.
Several dozen white women have been raped in the Ivory Coast over the past week as pro-government gangs plundered the homes and businesses of Europeans, although an uneasy calm has settled over the capital, Abidjan.
The men from the Young Patriots movement loyal to the Ivory Coast's President Laurent Gbagbo had attacked the women in retaliation for what they felt to be unjust French interference in their country's internal affairs, the French military said. General Henri Poncet said in Ivory Coast: "There have been rapes. There were... tragedies for a certain number of women."
The rioters in Abidjan had been joined by 4 000 convicts from the country's most secure prison who had escaped through the sewers.
Herve Ladsous, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry in Paris, said a French prosecutor is compiling a list of crimes against French nationals. At least 10 women, one in her 60s, have filed charges of rape. Two French women and one other European national who are known to have been raped have already been evacuated.
Catherine Rechenmann, head of a French citizens' organisation in Ivory Coast, said: "When people start attacking women, when they are raped, it's over, the barriers have been breached. We have been stabbed in the back. People are fleeing and I tell others they must leave too."
The UN response? Sanctions.
The resolution gives the government and rebels a month to get the peace process back on track or face a travel ban and an asset freeze against those blocking peace and violating human rights.
Also included in the ban is the incitement of public hatred or violence - a reference to hate messages on television and radio that have been whipping up anti-French anger.
France has also airlifted many people out.
Will this make any more difference in regional stability than the situation in Darfur? Or is France getting involved with a situation that will be more involved than they like?
Hat tip to Aldaynet