Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2000-11-16-Speech-4-144"

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"Mr President, it is tempting to present the recent political events in Côte d’Ivoire as the victory of democracy over dictatorship, as a repeat performance of the Belgrade scenario, but this time taking place in the heart of West Africa. It is tempting, but it would be wrong, because the reality is rather more complex and the position of the new president is quite a lot more controversial. Naturally we welcome the fact that junta leader Gueï failed in his scheme to legitimise his power through sham elections. The European Union, and also this Parliament, made an important contribution to this by demanding that democratic elections take place and instituting the suspension procedure. But that still does not give Laurence Gbagdo, who won the elections, the legitimacy he needs. After all, he drew the nationalist card too. He also supported the amendment to the constitution, with the intention of cutting out his most significant opponent, Watara, on the grounds that one of his parents is not an Ivoirian national. This law led to the serious disruption of traditional ethnic harmony in Côte d’Ivoire. Since it came into force, people of foreign extraction, and in fact we are talking in terms of a third to half of the population, have been the object of discrimination and even of attacks. Another consequence of the law was that Watara’s supporters, particularly Muslims from the north of the country, managed to successfully boycott the elections, which meant that the turnout was no higher than 40%, i.e. too low to give the new president a credible mandate. When Watara’s supporters took to the streets in order to demand new elections their protest was put down using violent means. Muslim quarters in the city were attacked. At least 170 people died and 350 were wounded. Fearing a civil war, Watara reconciled himself to the result. It would not be illogical for the European Union to immediately demand new presidential elections, in which all candidates would be able to participate this time round. But I recognise that there are a number of reasons for not doing so. Firstly, it would undermine the new president’s attempts to restore national unity and reconciliation. After all, against this background, he offered his opponents various ministerial posts and declared 9 November a national day of mourning. Conversely, all the parties have now declared themselves willing to help to restore the constitutional state and peace. As some delegates have already said, this must inevitably lead to the parliamentary elections on 10 December, which parties must be able to take part in. I do not believe it is for Europe to add fuel to the fire and stir up tensions even more when those concerned are evidently willing to engage in reconciliation. But the real test for Gbagdo will be on 10 December. All we can do is ensure that these are free and peaceful elections, and hope that the new Ivoirian government has a broad democratic basis. This is what is needed to restore ethnic harmony and help this country out of its economic morass."@en1

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