Ivory Coast's Gbagbo Seeks Mugabe Support in Crisis

HARARE – Embattled Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo has dispatched an envoy to seek the counsel of President Robert Mugabe, as his political life hangs by a thread.\r\n

The special envoy, Zoge Abie, Thursday met acting President John Nkomo in Harare. The meeting was also attended by acting Foreign Affairs minister Herbert Murerwa.

Abie, who is Ivory Coast’s Ambassador to South Africa, did not meet the press as he was reported to have left the country for an undisclosed destination immediately after the meeting. The meeting was closed to independent media journalists.

His visit comes after Gbabgo had said nearly a fortnight ago that he understood how the likes of Mugabe felt at the prospect of losing power and, therefore, instituted measures to protect themselves.

"When you go through what I’ve been through, you tell yourself: ‘Perhaps Mugabe wasn’t completely wrong after all’," the Ivorian president said in reference to how Mugabe clung to power after the 2008 harmonised elections.

However, according to Information Secretary George Charamba, the envoy had “come to brief the Acting President on the situation in his country”.

Political commentators questioned why Gbagbo would find it necessary to brief Nkomo on the situation in his country, considering how divorced Zimbabwe is from Ivory Coast.

Said one commentator who requested anonymity: “Unless Mugabe has some special interest in the affairs of Ivory Coast, I do not see how and why there could be reason for this visit.”

University of Zimbabwe lecturer, John Makumbe said it was clear Gbagbo was seeking lessons on how to steal a political victory from the jaws of defeat.

“He is hoping to learn from Mugabe on what to do next,” Makumbe said. “He is seeking support from a fellow dictator on how to resist democracy after losing election.”

Gbago is under pressure to relinquish power from the world super powers and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which said he must hand over power to Allasane Quttara who they recognise as the legitimate winner.

Gbago’s latest move is seen as a way of exerting his own diplomatic pressure in a bid to end the raging political crisis.

Just before Christmas he sent another envoy to Cameroon to seek support ahead of an African Union summit to discuss the matter. He has in recent days sung from the same hymn book with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe saying foreign powers were interfering in Ivorian internal affairs.

Mugabe has in the past also maintained that problems that Zimbabwe is facing were caused by former colonial power Britain together with its European and American allies who continue to meddle in its affairs.

Gbago like Mugabe in 2008 is facing a legitimacy crisis. He has since been slapped with sanctions by the European Union while he faces the possibility of  military action if he continues with his resistance to vacate office. – Daily News