Ivory Coast

On the Resumption of the Civil War in the Ivory Coast and the Massacres Perpetrated by the French Army

Report of the Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast (PCRCI) to the Communist Parties and Organisations

The crisis which has been raging in our country for more than two years has been marked in these last two months by the resumption of the war, with bombardment of the civilian population and massacres carried out by French imperialism. The conditions of the struggle did not let us promptly provide you with the information and analyses that we have made. This report is designed to make up for that weakness.

After concluding the Accra III agreements, the authorities of the FPI [Popular Front of the Ivory Coast, ruling party since 1995 – translator’s note] began to prepare to block the process of national reconciliation. Thus, the deputies of the FPI refused to adopt the legislative reforms called for by the Accra III agreements to start by September 30, 2004. On October 15, 2004, the rebels for their part refused to disarm since the FPI did not respect the September 30 date for carrying out the legislative reforms. The international community and the imperialist powers once again simply condemned this and appealed to the reasonableness of the parties of the Ivory Coast.

On October 30, the FPI through its President, Pascal Affi N’guesan, announced that, because of the refusal by the rebels to disarm, it would disarm them by force, that is to say, by war. He announced the obsolescence of the Marcoussis agreements [site of the agreements, mediated by France, to end the civil war – translator’s note], demanded the resignation of the government of Seydou Diarra, and demanded that the loyalist army assume its responsibilities and disarm the rebel forces. The latter, in turn, withdrew their ministers from the government of national reconciliation and affirmed that they would not disarm as long as the laws were not reformed according to the schedule fixed by Accra III to the spirit and letter of that agreement. They declared that if the FPI wanted war and attacked them, then they were ready to take up the challenge. The leadership of the FPI called on all their members to gather on November 12 at Bouaké to celebrate the ‘liberation.’ Thus all the elements were in place for the imminent resumption of the war.

Beginning on Thursday November 4, 2004, the war resumed with aerial bombardments carried out by the loyalist army on the rebel-controlled zones. The result, announced by the rebels, is 85 civilians killed, houses, bridges and the economic and social infrastructure destroyed, electricity, water and telephone services in the towns cut off, plunging the civilian population into an intolerable situation, the displacement of the population, in short, an increase in the suffering which the popular masses have already had to endure from this reactionary war that has already lasted more than two years. The forces of the UN and of French imperialism, made up of about 11,000 men, shirked their firm obligation to protect the civilian population according to Resolution 1528, and called those military raids ‘limited.’

With the resumption of the fighting, the militias of the FPI have perpetrated barbarous acts in the zones under government control: sabotage of foreign radio stations (BBC, RFI, Africa No. 1), destruction and burning down of the headquarters of newspapers considered close to the opposition parties (24 Hours, The New Liberal, The New Awakening, The Patriot), destruction of opposition newspapers to prevent their appearance, destruction of the headquarters of the RDR and the PDCI, destruction and robbery of goods of certain responsible politicians who are now in clandestinity, etc.

On Saturday, November 6, at about 3 PM, the foreign radio stations announced that the bombardments carried out by the loyalist forces had struck a barracks of the French imperialist army in Bouaké. The result, according to the French forces, was 9 dead and about twenty wounded. In reaction to the attack, the French military forces responded. Five warplanes, war materiel and the military headquarters at Yamoussokro were destroyed.

When the destruction of the planes was announced, the ‘patriotic’ organizations called on the population to resist. Barricades were set up on the main streets of Abidjan. The 43rd BIMA, the French military base in the Ivory Coast, was surrounded, and an attempt was made to block the Abidjan airport to prevent all arrivals and departures. The vehicles were inspected in a search for whites. The Mermoz and the Blaise Pascal high schools, two French schools, were set on fire. Europeans were accosted and beaten; they were robbed of their goods. The French imperialist army went on the offensive and occupied the Abidjan airport to assure the arrivals and departures, destroying the remaining planes of the loyalist army.

On the TV news at 8 PM on Saturday, November 6, 2004, the spokesperson of the presidency of the republic officially informed the population of the developments that had taken place since that afternoon. He stated that, while awaiting the investigation of the supposed attack on the French barracks in Bouaké, he condemned the French action which according to him took advantage of an incident to attack the Ivory Coast. However, he called on the population to remain calm. He stated that the problem would be solved by diplomatic means. But barely 30 minutes after this statement of the presidency of the republic, the president of the movements of ‘young patriots’ with all his staff appeared on TV to launch the cry of ‘popular resistance’ against the French army until its final departure from the Ivory Coast; he called on all citizens to immediately gather at the 43rd BIMA, the Abidjan airport and the residence of the Head of State Laurent Gbagbo to form a human shield because, he said, France wanted to make a pretext of the incident at Bouaké to carry out a coup d’etat. He stated that 100 tanks were stationed near the Hotel Ivoire, near the residence of the Head of State and that the two bridges were occupied as well as the airport. Other ‘patriotic’ leaders made similar statements, calling on the population to block any movement of the French army on the national territory. At that point, the youths surged out of all the neighbourhoods of Abidjan, heading for the places indicated. They surrounded the airport, the Hotel Ivoire, the residence of the Head of State, the radio and television, the transmitter at Abobo.

Faced with those demonstrations, the French army of occupation fired live bullets from helicopters and tanks. The provisional result in Abidjan is grave: many dead, disappeared, seriously wounded, the two bridges of Abidjan and the airport still occupied. According to the General Staff of the army, there have been several people killed and wounded in the interior of the Ivory Coast in the western zones, particularly in Duekoué, due to the passage of French tanks.

Finally, on Sunday, November 7, at about 10 PM, the president of the republic, Laurent Gbagbo, in an address to the nation, reaffirmed his military option of disarming the rebels, and called the attack against the French barracks a minor military incident. He said he was surprised by the French reaction which went beyond a simple incident; he called on the demonstrators to return to their homes. But the movement continued to follow the orders of the ‘patriotic’ leaders. The demonstrations and the killings continued until Tuesday, November 8 at 5 PM, at which time the French tanks returned to their base, the 43rd BIMA. There were more than 50 killed and more than a thousand wounded, according to Dr. Kadio Richard, the official of the FPI in charge of providing aid to the victims.

The Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast denounces the resumption of the war by the FPI, with serious consequences for the people (85 civilians dead). It likewise denounces the grave violations of human rights, the repression against the newspapers and parties of the opposition organised by the militias of the FPI authorities.

It denounces the attacks of the French imperialist army, the massacres perpetrated by that army on unarmed people. It considers it impermissible for an army to attack unarmed civilians. The responsibility for these killings falls as much on the French government of Chirac as on the authorities of the FPI, who maintained the defence accords with France and who specifically demanded the reinforcement of the French army of occupation in order to disarm the rebels. It denounces the irresponsibility of the FPI authorities, who launched the unarmed population against the French tanks, although they have their own army.

The PCRCI considers that this reactionary war has shown to the people of the Ivory Coast the true face of French imperialism, which is an exploiter and criminal. Therefore the withdrawal of the French army of occupation must be an immediate demand, an integral part of the resolution of the present crisis, as is the immediate end to the war, the struggle for liberties and democracy, the struggle against impunity for political crimes. It considers that the struggle against imperialist domination, particularly French imperialism, is the fundamental question of the day in the Ivory Coast. But to struggle against French imperialism to the benefit of other imperialisms is to choose between AIDS and incurable cancer. To call for a fight against imperialism and to refuse to fight against its local servants is demagogy. To organise the fight against imperialism and not to include in this fight the defence and promotion of democracy and liberties, the fight against the political and economic crimes, is a fraud. To confuse the fight against imperialism with the apology for chauvinism is criminal. Therefore, the social-chauvinist FPI authorities are not really fighting against imperialism. They are trying, by means of these mobilisations of the masses, to get stronger French support in their fight against other bourgeois factions.

The Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast greets this great mobilisation against the attacks of the French army. But this fight must be deepened in order to break with all the agreements of subjection, for the effective liberation from all the chains, since imperialism is not only the army stationed in the country, but is also the economic, political and cultural domination. It therefore calls on the working class, the peasantry, the youth, and all the revolutionaries and democrats, to join courageously with it in the true fight against international imperialism, particularly French imperialism, and its local lackeys, for liberties, democracy and popular and national sovereignty.

Given the present situation created by the resumption of the war by the social-chauvinist FPI authorities, the Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast demands the immediate cessation of hostilities, the putting in place of the legislative reforms and the disarmament of the belligerent forces and militias, the protection in reality of the population throughout the country against all attacks on human rights, the prosecution of the criminal politicians, the departure of the French army and all the foreign forces. Only the totality of these conditions are the minimum guarantees for an end to the crisis in accordance with the interests of the popular masses.

For the Central Committee
Secretary General

Translated from the French by George Gruenthal

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