Wednesday, April 6, 2011

102. Ivory Coast: Islamic and Western interests meet

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 102 | Wed 06 Apr 2011


By Elizabeth Kendal

Ivory Coast (IC) is a nation on an ethnic-religious fault-line with a predominantly agrarian Muslim north and a predominantly urbanised, industrial and administrative Christian and animist south. Presidential aspirant Alassane Ouattara is an ambitious former Prime Minister and Northern Muslim who plays the race and religion cards for political gain. This has fuelled tensions and aggravated divisions during economically stressful times as IC has been struggling under the weight of decades of mass Muslim immigration. Ouattara has long sought the naturalisation of all immigrants which would mean an immediate Muslim majority in IC. Those who object to that outcome are labelled 'Islamophobic', 'racist' and 'xenophobic'. Ouattara has the backing of Islamic states precisely because he is a Muslim prepared to play the Muslim-as-victim card for political gain.

Ivory Coast (IC) went to the polls on 31 October 2010 even though the northern rebels, in violation of all agreements, had not disarmed. In IC, as in most democracies, an electoral commission manages the mechanics of an election whilst a constitutional council or court investigates complaints before proclaiming the final result. On 2 December IC's Electoral Commission -- dominated by Ouattara supporters by a margin of 20-2 -- illegally pre-empted the Constitutional Council's decision and broadcast via French TV from Ouattara's headquarters that Ouattara had won the election. When the Constitutional Council, which had been investigating irregularities, announced on 3 December that Gbagbo was the winner, a political stalemate ensued.

Fortunately for Ouattara, numerous foreign powers covet access to IC's immense agricultural (coffee, cocoa) and mineral (diamonds, oil) wealth. Because he is prepared to sell out IC's sovereignty and wealth in exchange for power, Ouattara has the backing of these resource-hungry foreign powers, especially neo-colonialist France. Bolstered by the support of the 'international community', Ouattara has moved to take power by force.

As noted in last week's RLPB, IC as a former French colony is obliged to hand over 85 percent of all its foreign currency reserves to the French treasury. This poverty-perpetuating neo-colonialism is exactly what President Laurent Gbagbo, a staunch nationalist, has been fighting against. This is why France is so keen for regime change in IC that it has sent attack helicopters against the Presidential Palace and Ivorian military barracks (in the name of 'humanitarianism'!) ignoring the fact that these facilities not only house whole families but also abut residential areas.

While UN and French helicopters were attacking Ivorian positions in Abidjan, northern militias allied to Alassane Ouattara were pressing south. As this RLPB was being prepared, UN peacekeepers were guarding tens of thousands of civilians seeking refuge in a church in Duekoue, the southern town where some 800 were recently killed during an attack by northern militias. Virtually all state institutions, including the army, are loyal to President Gbagbo -- as is at least half the registered population -- so Abidjan will not submit willingly. The rebels would never be able to win or retain power without Western support. Fortunately for them, Islamic and Western 'interests' meet once again. Their goal: the removal of a secular (in this case Christian) staunchly nationalist president and replacing him with an ambitious, exploitable puppet who will advance not IC's interests but his own.

In 1913 William Wade Harris of Liberia crossed into Ivory Coast preaching the power of Christ over spirits. Dressed in white and carrying a cross, a Bible and a bowl, he baptised thousands and according to E Isichei (1995) 'permanently rewrote the religious geography of the Ivory Coast'. But permanence can never be assumed. Good must be treasured and preserved. What Harris achieved, greed and mass Muslim immigration have undone. Once the most free and prosperous country in all West Africa, IC may never recover. Religious liberty and Christian security, once 'guaranteed', will be tenuous now.

(Expanded blog version.)


* shield his Church and deliver her from evil that she might continue to shine no matter how dark the situation becomes; may faith increase as those who trust the Lord find their refuge in him. 'You have set up a banner for those who fear you, that they may flee to it from the bow.' (Psalm 60:4 ESV)

* bring a spirit of peace to Abidjan, that there might be a willingness to find a political solution to this political problem; may religious liberty and Christian security be preserved.

* awaken the West to the destruction, suffering and death that greed and neo-colonialism produce; might a voice be raised against it, in the name of justice and righteousness.



In 1913 WW Harris of Liberia crossed into Ivory Coast (IC) preaching the power of Christ, to whom many thousands turned. But what Harris achieved, greed and mass Muslim immigration have undone. IC is a religious fault-line nation, with a mainly Muslim north and a mainly Christian south. Supporters of the northern Muslim presidential candidate Ouattara illegally proclaimed his 'victory' on 2 December 2010, pre-empting the Constitutional Council's official decision on 3 December that Gbagbo had won. Today, Outtara's militias are advancing south, backed by Western forces coveting IC's agricultural and mineral wealth. Islamic and Western interests and especially neo-colonialist France need an ambitious puppet in the Presidential Palace, not a staunch nationalist like Gbagbo. IC's religious liberty and Christian security will be tenuous now. Please pray.