White House Blog from President Barack Obama to the people of Ivory Coast. In the message, the president of the United States recognized Alassane Ouattara as the democratically elected president of Ivory Coast and expressed concern about the on-going power struggle and it's implications on the Ivorian people.
Obama unequivocally condemned Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to relinguish power since he was declared loser of the November 2010 presidential election, and commended the internationally recognized president of Ivory Coast - Alassane Ouattara - for seeking a peaceful solution to the stalmate. Obama urged Laurent Gbagbo to follow the "example of leaders who reject violence."
President Barack Obama's 1 minute 43 seconds long video message ends with a direct appeal to the people of Ivory Coast.
After watching the video, I have no doubt that some people will argue that "the west" is once again meddling in the internal affairs of a "sovereign" state because of "self interest" and the desire to exploit "natural resources". This argument is all too common, but as far as I'm concerned, it defends the status quo and does not hold water; neither does it provide a solution to today's human rights challenges. People of good conscience do not expect the so-called "west" to sit back and silently watch innocent civilians in any part of the world die in the name of "sovereignty".
Where a state proves to be unwilling or incapable of protecting civilians within its borders from untold large scale violations, the international community has a moral and legal obligation under international law to take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians caught in a deadly conflict.
Ivory Coast is in chaos and there're allegations of crimes against humanity committed by supporters and troops loyal to Laurent Gbagbo. The United Nations reports that about a million people have fled their homes as a result of post-elections violence.
I welcome President Obama's message to the people of Ivory Coast, but more concrete steps should be urgently taken to protect civilians on the ground. More importantly, those who have participated in any way in perpetuating human rights violations in Ivory Coast since the disputed November 2010 presidential elections should bear the full weight of the law.
Read the country profile of Ivory Coast for more information about the country and please take the POLL on the top right hand corner of this blog [UPDATE: Poll closed].
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