Women in Ivory Coast lead the revolution against Gbagbo

Women protest against Gbagbo

Newscast Media ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire — As Libyans in North march in protest of strongman Gadhafi, in the West, women are leading the way as they stand up to Gbagbo’s dictatorial regime. The uprising was sparked from an incident last week when soldiers opened fire on a crowd of female demonstrators who were unarmed, and waving tree branches symbolizing peace.

This unprovoked attack that killed seven women, galvanized the local and international community against Gbagbo who has still refused to yield power since losing the country’s election three months ago. Most media reports are focusing on the Libyan revolt and have primarily ignored the revolt happening amongst black Africans.

The thousands of women demonstrating on Tuesday near the site of last week’s killings in the Abobo district were protected by men who had formed a wall across the mouth of a freeway by lining cars end-to-end.

Mr. Gbagbo has maintained power by continuing to pay the salaries of soldiers and key civil servants. Gbagbo who has been in power for more than a decade, has refused to step down in the West African country which is the world’s leading cocoa producer, triggering violence that has killed nearly 400 people as his troops clash with pro-Quattara rebels. African leaders have been exceptionally vocal and united in telling him to go, but he refuses to allow a peaceful transition to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the election.

This tendency for African leaders to cling to power is what has kept a large part of the continent as third world region. Such leaders ascend not to improve lives of their citizens, but do it for the love of power, to enrich themselves and to have control over their people. Developed countries on the continent like South Africa, are fortunate to have leaders who know when it is time for them to bow out gracefully, and allow young talent to rise up, something that oppressed third world African countries can only dream about.

So far nine newspapers opposed to Mr. Gbagbo have closed, saying they could no longer withstand police harassment and constant threats of violence against their journalists.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, issued a stinging rebuke saying that “Gbagbo and his forces have shown a callous disregard for human life”.

The UN is now sending 2,000 more troops to Cote d’Ivoire to reinforce the existing peacekeeping force of 8,000 already in Cote d’Ivore, a UN official said.

“We are waiting on reinforcements of 2,000 blue helmets, and two of the three armed helicopters that we ordered have arrived. We need to do everything we can to stop someone who wants to massacre civilians from making it happen,” he said.

At this point it seems the UN has been given the nod by the US to ensure Gbagbo’s removal from power.