Monday, April 11, 2011

Taken Gbagbo, Ivory Coast miracle

A commentary on a hot day that will remain engraved in my memory with images of Al Jazeera from whom I learned the news. With the capture of Laurent Gbagbo in Ivory Coast buffeted by civil war, ending another African regimes led by criminals, that by entering politics have taken a giant leap in quality using the law and institutions to pursue their own crimes and amassing wealth untold along with their acolytes.

Not that this phenomenon is limited to Africa, as the Italian events of recent decades have shown us beyond a reasonable doubt. This is why today is a special day. And for me it is even more because I got to know the Ivorian President democratically elected and recognized by nearly all UN and the international community.

Alassane Ouattara was, as Deputy Managing Director, one of my bosses in the last year I worked at the International Monetary Fund. As far as I know Africa, Ouattara is one of the best men now in circulation on the continent. Integgerrima a personality, an economist with extensive experience, and especially a public official with a straight back in front of every kind of pressure, even when exposed to retaliation.

He had come all the way inside to the Fund from simple career assistant to the control room, which was perhaps the personality of sub-Saharan Africa's most prominent international institutions. Even in difficult situation (I remember a solo mission in Sudan in 1998, ravaged by a brutal civil war) could be assured of the support of Ouattara, who did not disappear under any circumstances.

In short, a personality of great caliber that we could trust. Ouattara returned home to stand for election and lead a country in the balance, which started along a dangerous ridge of tribal violence. The Ivory Coast was, after South Africa, perhaps the most prosperous country in Africa and one of the most socially advanced.

Fall prey to criminal gangs who hate tribal, religious differences and disputes between North and South (do not remember someone close to us by chance?) To perpetuate their power, the country was divided, the institutions destroyed, and eventually put on fire by Gbagbo's followers who did not want to relinquish power after having lost seats in the elections postponed for 5 years.

For months and Ouattara was forced to hole up and defend together the best part of Ivorian society, while the bands Gbagbo and the army remained loyal to him lord it and terrorized the population. With the Anglo-French military intervention ends the civil war with an historic achievement for Africa.

A democratically elected president takes the place of a tyrant with few scruples. An honest president with an enormous international prestige and charisma that I think is sure to inspire a new generation of African statesmen. In a continent in recent years is moving with difficulty towards a future of despair is not only a moment to frame.

The hope is that the virtuous circle that reinforces and North Africa, the wind starts to blow even democracy south of the Sahara.

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