In Koulibaly, the opposition is seeking to regain its bearings

How can we describe the Ouattara Regime?

By Mamadou Koulibaly*

In Koulibaly, the opposition is seeking to regain its bearings
In Koulibaly, the opposition is seeking to regain its bearings

At the time when President Ouattara is receiving the Liberal International in Cote d’Ivoire where they have come to celebrate his regime, many observers are interrogating themselves, and there is one question that is recurrent: What is the real nature of the Ouattara’s regime? Without being exhaustive, let’s retain thirty (30) points of the main political practices that characterize the current Ivorian regime.

1-              Greater insecurity not being curbed but on the increase that threatens all businesses;

2-             An oppressive military and paramilitary presence on the streets and the marginalization of the police and gendarmes whereas the people are left defenseless to confront harassing and racketeering armed men who set up checkpoints, repeatedly search travelers and passers-by at will;

3-             Continuing violations of the rights of individual property characterized by armed robberies, holdup of honest citizens, expropriations of houses, urban lands, businesses, and vehicles by cronies, authoritarian appropriations of forest reserves by people and relatives of people in power;

4-             The President, who will be opening the Liberal International congress, repeatedly violates the fundamental law by which he took oath of office, notably by the unconstitutional appointments to major State institutions (Constitutional Council, Economic and Social Council, National Assembly) and the signing of illegal ordinances without being submitted to Parliament where he has no opposition;

5-             A non-denunciation of the judicial system that gives land ownership to the State and maintains     an archaic property ownership not in line with the real needs and expectations of the people by tempering with, for example, the free choice to sell land to buyers in accordance to simple free trade principles;

6-             A management of State property with forty (40) ministries of which four (4) are housed in the presidential palace ;

7-             Many family members of the regime being involved in the direct running of State affairs ;

8-             A president of the Republic, also Commander-in-chief of the army who closes his eyes on violence perpetrated by the national defense forces and auxiliary mercenaries in various towns and cities in the country, mainly in Duekoue, Sikensi, Yopougon, Azaguie, Arrah, Abidjan) ;

9-             A vigilante vengeance characterize by the relentless tracking down of partisans of the former regime and people supposedly in sympathy with it. This witch-hunting has been confirmed by several international organizations (HCR, UN, Amnesty International, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch) ;

10-          An unfair justice system at the orders of Super powers whose inefficiency has been proven by the index of economic freedom in the Washington Heritage Foundation and Fraser, a Canadian institute which has noted Cote d’Ivoire 3.2 over 10 for the year 2012;

11-           A lack of accountability on the part of the Authority and a denial of justice by the President of the Republic who refuses to hand over perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity ;

12-          A promotion of former Com’Zones (warlords of the rebellion from 2002-2011) to higher ranks in the army and in administration, even if they are intellectually disqualified for those positions ;

13-          An authoritarian appointment of people to public office and within public companies on tribal line without sitting any test or interview, without any criteria of competence, all this to satisfy the « ethnic balance policy » policy promoted by the President of the Republic as a method of governance ;

14-          A distorted decentralization which is more of a devolution of the State then a willingness to subsidiarity ;

15-          Signing of agreements and international treaties without transparency. For instance, Ivorians do not have any information on the latest Defense Accord with France and the cost of the third bridge in Abidjan that was awarded without international tender procedures ;

16-          A border exchange control whereas the Government argues that we are in a monetary zone which allows free convertibility of the local currency ;

Will Koulibaly's relentless critique of Ouattara (r) lead to vital reforms in Ivory Coast?
Will Koulibaly’s relentless critique of Ouattara (r) lead to vital reforms in Ivory Coast?

17-          Prices administered and set by the Government, particularly in the agriculture sector for produce like cocoa, coffee, cashew, cotton… ;

18-          State direct control in the management and marketing of agricultural produce, mainly cash crops like cocoa, excluding peasant farmers who are among the poorest people and the most vulnerable in the country ;

19-          A constant and unpunished violation of the Procurement Code. Major contracts have been granted to relatives of the Regime or selected companies without bidding, outside the rules of free competition and in a manifest corruption (3rd bridge, rehabilitation of the universities, making new outfits for the Republican Forces, energy saving lamps, etc.) ;

20-         Connivance with companies whose monopolies are protected by the State, particularly in the areas of water supply, electricity, television, telecommunications ;

21-          Import licenses and quotas on staple products and products of mass consumption like rice reserved for only those in power and their relatives ;

22-          A hyper disordered re-indebtedness of the State already under the HIPC drip whereas the waste of public resources is commonplace ;

23-          An increase without justification and without transitional measure of compulsory levies to finance State-imposed retirement scheme at the expense of future generations;

24-          Constant obstacles to civil society activities that Government would like to suppress;

25-          The public media at the orders of the Government to marginalize opposition and the filtering of civil society communications;

26-          An opposition press muzzled and censored regularly even though it is not exempt from criticism ;

27-          A large number of exiles and refugees in neighboring countries, first of its kind in the history of Cote d’Ivoire, whose status is justified by the oppressive practices of the regime and therefore feel unsafe and scared to return home;

28-         Students sinking in blank years, subject to authoritarian orientations towards disciplines chosen by the State and not by their families, and the ineffectiveness of the university administration making it a nightmare, indeed impossible for many, as even formalities for registration in faculties are guarded by armed men ;

29-          Opposition parties left out of the political status or without funding, while the governing party finances itself handsomely from public funds;

30-         An electoral framework determined authoritatively by the State without consensus (arbitrary redrawing of constituency boundaries in favor of the President’s political party, the Independent Electoral Commission strongly unbalanced with strong military presence whereas the Head of State himself is the Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and President of the Superior Council of the Magistrate Commission.

The enumeration of this string of thirty measures among hundred others cited herein should easily allow anyone to find a suitable adjective to describe the current Ivorian regime. Riddle: How can we describe the Ouattara regime? Liberal democracy? Tyranny? Dictatorship?

*Prof. Mamadou KOULIBALY is President of the opposition party LIDER and Member of Mont Pelerin Society. He is also a former President of the Ivory Coast Parliament.

 

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