Outside pressure is welcome after election fraud in Belarus, Ivory Coast
Defenders of autocrats in Belarus and Ivory Coast warn the world not to interfere in internal affairs in those countries. The world should do just that.
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Despite the arrest and beating of opposition demonstrators and their leaders in the Belarusan capital of Minsk, Mr. Medvedev has declared the elections to be the “internal affair” of Belarus.Skip to next paragraph
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And yet, for a country that itself has sought closer ties to the West, and is in a “partnership” with the European Union, what happens in Belarus is hardly of disinterest in other capitals.
Belarus was offered an EU aid package of $3.6 billion if Mr. Lukashenko delivered free and fair elections. He didn’t, and the offer should be rescinded – if it hasn’t been already.
The circumstances – and consequences – are even more serious in Ivory Coast in Western Africa. That country, the world’s largest producer of cocoa, suffered a civil war in 2002-03, and the presidential run-off elections last month were part of an arduous negotiated process.
Incumbent Laurent Gbagbo lost to longtime rival Alassane Ouattara, who is now being protected by United Nations peacekeepers. Mr. Gbagbo refuses to concede, despite widespread recognition of his loss, including by his fellow African leaders. Gbagbo has unleashed security forces and violence, amid fears that this once bright spot will dim under another civil war.
The world is responding – interfering – with unusual and commendable unity. The UN Security Council on Monday agreed to extend its 10,000-strong forces in Ivory Coast for another six months. The members of the seven-member West African currency union are considering giving control of Ivory Coast finances to the real winner, Mr. Ouattara.
The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and African Development bank have frozen lending. The United States announced Dec. 21 travel bans on Gbagbo, members of his family, and his illegitimate government; the EU announced travel bans and an asset freeze on Gbagbo.
The stakes in Ivory Coast are considerable: for the war-scarred people who live there; for the region, which is now starting to absorb fleeing refugees; and for upcoming African elections elsewhere.
The only sovereignty that Gbagbo has to fall back on is the power over his own actions. He should exercise that self-control in a constructive way and step down. If not, other countries must continue to up the pressure, quite justifiably.