Leaders of Liberal International meeting in Brussels condemned attempts by incumbent President of the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, to hold onto power after the independent electoral commission had announced a victory in the November 28th presidential poll for Alassane Ouattara, of the ‘Rassemblement des Républicains’ (RDR), a full member of Liberal International (LI), and the Africa Liberal Network.
LI is calling on the African Union and EU to remain firm in their support for Mr. Ouattara as the legitimate winner of the elections. A video of the press conference is available here:
ALDE-LI Press Conference
Louis Michel MEP (MR, Belgium), former commissioner for development policy, pointed out that Ouattara had legitimately won the election but, in an open and inclusive spirit, had offered to include members of the defeated ruling party in his government, once confirmed.
“The European Union and the wider International Community must be clear with Mister Laurent Gbagbo that we will not tolerate legitimate elections that have been conducted fairly and peacefully, to be overturned by vested interests clinging onto power. If necessary we should be prepared to use whatever measures we can to isolate the regime responsible for denying the results of democracy,” said Michel.
Hans van Baalen MEP (VVD, Netherlands) and President of Liberal International, had sent a delegation of Liberal International observers , led by Bulgarian parliamentarian Dzhevdet Chakarov, to the Ivory Coast in the run up to the November elections and expressed his disappointment that the regime was refusing to concede defeat to the Liberal challenger.
“We are determined that the solution to the political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire can only be the recognition of Alasane Ouattara as legitimate President of Cote d’Ivoire. Services by former South African President Thabo Mbeki are only of help if this is the outcome of the process he leads. It would be extremely unhelpful if Mr. Mbeki would try to broker a deal along the lines of Zimbabwe and Kenya, allowing a defeated President to remain in office”
Dr Lamine Bâ, Senegalese Minister (Parti Democratique Senegalais) and President of the African Liberal Network underlined that the Ivorian electoral commission had declared Ouattara the winner with 54% of the vote:
“It is unacceptable that the Ivorian Government refuse to acknowledge the outcome of the freely expressed will of the people. All democracies amount to a commitment, at some point, to give up power to someone else.”
“Western Governments must insist on the transition of power in Ivory Coast to the legitimate winner if we are to avoid continued tension and a repeat of divisions seen elsewhere in Africa when incumbents refuse to step down from power. Gbagbo must leave office. It is easier for the International Community to support a peaceful transition than deal with the consequences of a conflict if such issues remain unresolved.”