The arrest of the defiant Laurent Gbagbo will undoubtedly send warning signals to other dictators bent on disrespecting the will of people to understand that the world can no longer sit back and watch them.
These leaders – whose democratic belief is only a lip service – organize elections to win at all cost even if it means burying hundreds of innocent people six feet deep. Like Mr. Gbagbo, these so-called leaders choose defiance, refusing to step down. Instead they rely on the full backing of the judiciary and security to shamelessly cling on to power. As if their blood lacks blood, they remain loyal to the dictator until they find themselves in muddy waters.
Mr. Gbagbo has clearly lost the polls but could not swallow his pride and give up power to Alasane Dramane Outtara. The former president is known for mastering the art of stalling; he has stalled everything, including the Cote d’Ivoire elections several times. He only organized it against his will, and continues his tricks of stalling four months after losing the November 28 presidential elections, sparking a rebellion in the country that claimed over 800 lives.
The capture of Mr. Gbagbo has automatically lifted a blockade on president Outtara and his administration holed up in a lagoon hotel in Abidjan. Intoxicated with power – some say under the influence of his iron lady wife, Simone – Gbagbo refused to step down peacefully. Television footages of the former president and wife symbolized their frustration and low self-esteem. But that was the price of stubbornness they should be ready to battle head on.
Mr. Outtara, affectionately called A.D.O, should now set the machinery to prosecute Mr. Gbagbo and his allies. President Outtara must be applauded for promising to treat the former leader, his wife and allies with dignity, though he had denied his opponents that right.
Mr. Gbagbo’s call for cease-fire should be respected by his remaining loyal forces in the country. Ivorians have only one preoccupation: how to repair the wreckage cause by war. Mr. Outtara has a great challenge to move the country with shaky pillars. Cote d’Ivoire’s situation is murkier and can get pretty messy if it’s not properly managed. That’s why A.D.O.’s plan to institute the South African-style truth and reconciliation commission is a good step. But this does not mean those who commit atrocities and war crimes must enjoy amnesty. Nothing can take the place of justice; it must not be compromised for whatever reason.