Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Cote d'Ivoire

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. INHOFE. That is not why I am here, however. I want to be sure that something I have been talking about over the last days has now come to a peak where we must do something.

I have been concerned about what is happening in Cote d'Ivoire, in west Africa. I am very close to the situation. I have had occasion to be there over the last few years nine different times. I know the President is there, the current President and his wife, Laurent and Simone Gbagbo. I was familiar with the election that came around, so I have been on the floor talking about what I believe should happen there, that we should call for a new election. Unfortunately, the United States and our State Department--I will be very critical of them--have joined with the United Nations and with France in taking the side of Alassane Ouattara from the north who was the challenger, who has been challenging this administration now for at least 10 years that I know of.

I got a scathing reply from the Ambassador to the United States from France. I am not going to read it. I am not going to enter it into the Record. It doesn't make any sense. I only wish to respond to a couple of things in that letter. First of all, they talk about the fact that this was a legitimate election and it was certified properly and it was in accordance with the Constitution of Cote d'Ivoire, and I don't believe that. I will respond to that by saying the independent electoral commission did not fulfill its constitutional mandate to announce the final provision vote tallies within 3 days. That is what the Constitution says in the country of Cote d'Ivoire and west Africa. It announced then, almost 16 hours after it was constitutionally mandated, to report them to the Constitutional Council. It is my understanding it is the Constitutional Council of Cote d'Ivoire and not the electoral commission which certifies and declares the winner of Presidential elections.

On three occasions now I have talked about this election and the abuses that were taking place. In one case we had information that was given to me by members of the opposing party to President Gbagbo where they submitted that in one of the five regions in the north--let's keep in mind the challenger, Ouattara, is from the north, a Muslim area up there. They had, in five of these regions--in one of them--149,598--and I showed how it was calculated. I showed the actual results that were there from the electoral process, and this was just one of five northern cities. But when the total was officially reported in the total vote column, Ouattara received 244,000 votes, a difference of almost 95,000 votes.

If you do your math and you say this happened in all five of these areas in northern Cote d'Ivoire, that would be more than enough to declare--enough mistakes that would take the election away from the duly reelected President, President Gbagbo. If you don't want to get into the weeds that far, all you have to do is look at the results they had. In that election they came out with the results that said Gbagbo in those northern precincts--we call them precincts, they call them something else--that they actually had thousands and thousands of votes in what we would call the primary, but when the primary runoff came up, he got zero votes. That is a statistical impossibility. So I have given all those things to our State Department, and I haven't gotten any positive response.

In the accusations in the letter the French say he refused to accept--he being Gbagbo--refused to accept proposals by the African union, a high-level group, while these proposals have been formally accepted by President Ouattara. It is not true, just flat not true. As late as March 27 the African Union sent former Cape Verde Foreign Minister Jose Brito to mediate between Ouattara and Gbagbo. Gbagbo accepted the mediation, Ouattara didn't.

I have a whole list of the accusations that were made and my response to these accusations, and I am going to be submitting them at this portion in my presentation in lieu of reading them at this time. I ask unanimous consent that they be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

Inhofe Fact Check on French Embassy ``Fact Sheet''
(From the French Ambassador, April 6, 2011)

French say:

Fact Sheet on Côte d'Ivoire

(April 6, 2011)

``After many delays, including on the part of then-President Laurent Gbagbo, a presidential election was held in Côte d'Ivoire last fall. Since then, its results have been certified by the local monitoring mission and acknowledged by the international community, including the United States, the European Union (EU), the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), and the African Union (AU).''

Inhofe responds:

In fact the Independent Electoral Commission did not fulfill its constitutional mandate to announce the final provisional vote tallies within three days. It announced them almost 16 hours after it was constitutionally mandated to report them to the Constitutional Council. And it is my understanding, that it is the Constitutional Council of Cote d'Ivoire and not the Electoral Commission which certifies and declares the winner of presidential elections. It seems that this election was not carried out in accordance with the constitution of Cote d'Ivoire.

In addition, there is evidence of massive electoral fraud in the rebel held north. I submitted this evidence in two letters to Secretary Clinton and am awaiting a response to these specific allegations.

I also submitted an electoral document showing official regional electoral returns, where it shows Ouattara receiving a total 149,598 from one of five northern cities. But when the total is officially reported in the total vote column, Ouattara receives 244,471; a difference of 94,873 votes!

The evidence submitted to Secretary Clinton includes tallies of precincts where, in the first round of voting, President Laurent Gbagbo received multiple thousands of votes, but in the second round he received zero votes. That is a statistical impossibility.

From all the evidence I now have gathered, I am convinced that it is mathematically impossible for President Gbagbo to have lost the election by several hundred thousand votes. And if a similar amount of fraud exists in the other four regions of the rebel-held north, Gbagbo is actually the winner of the presidential election.

French say:

``Since the results, former President Laurent Gbagbo has not only refused to acknowledge the results, and listen to the will of the people of Côte d'Ivoire, but actually dismissed several initiatives, including by the AU, ECOWAS and other African leaders, to avert any bloodshed and find a peaceful solution of the crisis. Most recently, he again refused to accept proposals by the AU High Level Group, while these proposals have been formally accepted by President Ouattara.''

Inhofe responds:

Not true. As late as March 27, the African Union sent former Cape Verde foreign minister Jose Brito to mediate between Ouattara and Gbagbo. Gbagbo accepted the mediation, but Ouattara rejected it!

French say:

``This deadlock has precipitated a deterioration of the humanitarian situation. In addition, it has led to growing violence, of which the first victims have been civilians, in spite of the presence on the ground of the U.N. Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI). It is in this context that the United Nations Security Council adopted its Resolution 1975 on March 30. This decision was adopted unanimously, including with a positive vote from the United States and the three African members of the Council (namely, Gabon, Nigeria and South Africa). It stresses the protection of civilians, and the need to prevent the use of heavy weapons in this regard, as a key element of the impartial implementation of UNOCI's mandate.''

Inhofe responds:

There is no evidence that President Gbagbo ordered the shelling or killing of civilians in Abidjan or throughout the country. He has repeatedly denied it, and it is in fact actions by forces under the control of Ouattara who have carried out military and terrorist actions. This consisted of attacks upon police and Army forces by ``invisible commandos'' and the outright offensive launched from the north that has led to the present crisis.

French say:

``In Côte d'Ivoire, French forces are acting on the basis of an international mandate given by U.N. Security Council, in support to the internationally constituted U.N. peacekeeping operation (UNOCI).''

Inhofe responds:

Focus should be on the word ``peacekeeping''. Unfortunately, the United Nations and French forces are not engaging in peace-keeping, but war-making.

French say:

``Most recently, their intervention has been strictly consistent with Resolution 1975, and responded to a request to President Sarkozy by UN Secretary-General Ban with a view to support UNOCI as it enforces its mandate. In particular, French forces' intervention in Abidjan has been strictly consistent with this goal, and designed to neutralize the heavy weapons used against civilian populations and UN personnel in Abidjan.''

Inhofe responds:

Not true. Abidjan is a densely populated city of four million people. In this urban environment, the collateral damage caused by the attacks by UN and French attack helicopters and ground troops has caused hundreds if not thousands of civilian casualties. Specifically, hundreds of youths supportive of President Gbagbo formed a human shield around the presidential palace in an attempt to halt the Ouaratta and French offensive. No one knows how many of these youths have been killed by UN and French forces.

French say:

``In the context of its commitment to the protection of civilians and the fight against impunity in Côte d'Ivoire, as in the rest of Africa and worldwide, France reiterated its calls for an immediate halt to all violence against civilians, and underscored that the perpetrators of these crimes must be held accountable before a court of law. France welcomes President Ouattara's pledge in this regard.''

Inhofe responds:

The only reported slaughter of civilians has been perpetrated by Ouattara forces. This occurred in the western town of Duekoue where up to 1000 people were massacred by the Dozos, traditional hunters who fought alongside Ouattara forces. This has been confirmed by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch.

French say:

``France is looking forward to the end of the current violence, and hopes that the constitutional and democratic order will eventually prevail. It is for president Ouattara and the people of Côte d'Ivoire to find the political solutions that will favor a democratic, peaceful, prosperous and reconciled nation.''

Inhofe responds:

Not true. President Gbagbo has called for an immediate cease-fire several times and has been ignored by Ouattara, the UN and French forces. The killings can come to an immediate end if these forces agree to a cease-fire.

Conclusion:

This past Wednesday, April 6, marked the 17th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. We now know that UN General Secretary Koffi Annan and others knew of the extend of this violence early on, but did nothing about it.

We all want to prevent another genocide from occurring.

That is why the United States must call for an immediate ceasefire to prevent Ouattara and his rebel army from committing more mass slaughters of the Ivoirians.

Lastly, I renew my request to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Kerry requesting that he convene a hearing as soon as possible into the atrocities committed by forces loyal to rebel leader Ouattara, as well as into what I believe were flawed elections that gave legitimacy to his claim of the presidency.

Mr. INHOFE. I came to the conclusion that on Wednesday, April 6--that marked the 17th anniversary of the terrible thing that happened in Rwanda, the genocide--and we have information that actually Secretary General Kofi Annan had knowledge of that. It wasn't shared. We didn't have warning, and we all know 800,000-plus people were brutally murdered in Rwanda during that genocide.

What I wish to do now is make sure we are on record in warning the United States, France, and the United Nations what is going on right now.

First of all, if we look--they say it is all decided, everyone has made up their minds, yet President Obiang--President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea. He is also the current President of the African Union, or the chief of the African Union. He is on record saying that Africa must be allowed to manage its own affairs, and this is a quote:

Africa does not need any external influence. Africa must manage its own affairs.

This is the President who is the head right now of the African Union.

President Sarkozy has said--so there is no doubt about whether he has authorized his troops to go in there and participate in these raids that have taken place, two of them that I will describe in a minute. French President--this is reported on BBC News--Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement he had authorized 1,600 strong French Licorne forces in the country.

That shows definitely, and I don't think anyone is questioning that. Here is another one:

One source said soldiers from a 1,000-strong French Licorne force--

This is a very strong force--

in the Ivory Coast has been deployed in Zone 4, in the south of the city.

I think also it is important to see that France has authorized its military--and I am reading now from the same report:

France has authorized its military to participate in a United Nations operation in the Ivory Coast to protect civilians against escalating violence there. The Elysee Palace said the operation aimed to neutralize heavy weapons belonging to troops loyal to President Gbagbo.

So he is talking about sending them in. Of course, I think most of us--I will go ahead and read one more thing here that I think is significant: ``French helicopters opened fire on a military camp in Abidjan on Monday.''

That is going to go down in history as ``Black Monday.''

If anyone wants to see what was happening with helicopters and rockets firing on all kinds of targets near the palace in the residence in Abidjan of Ouattara, go to my Web site. We have pictures of that.

Earlier, French President Nicholas Sarkozy said he had authorized France's military to join a U.N. operation against forces loyal to Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo.

So, clearly, they are the ones who had--I want to say this: There are two major assaults on Cote d'Ivoire. I mistakenly thought that the French were involved in the one in a city called Duekoue. I find out later that they weren't. They were supporting, of course, Ouattara--the forces that were there, but they did not have a direct participation in it. A man named Guillaume Ngefa, who is the head of the United Nations mission in Cote d'Ivoire, said that Ouattara's forces had carried out the killings in Duekoue, and we have pictures--I am quoting them now:

We have pictures. We have evidence. This is retaliation.

That is what the deputy head of the mission in Cote d'Ivoire of the United Nations mission said.

Then: ``We have credible reports of serious abuses being committed by Ouattara's side.'' That came from Corinne Dufka, a Human Rights Watch researcher based in Dakar, Senegal. It is raising very serious concerns.

Then further quotes. It goes on and on. I will enter all of these quotes into the Record.

But the bottom line here is that Ouattara's forces are the ones that were involved in Duekoue when they--the estimate they have right here is that--it comes from Patrick Nicholson, a spokesman for the Catholic aid agency Caritas, saying that an agency team in town last week on a routine aid mission had found a lot of dead bodies. ``We estimate between 800 and 1,000 dead,'' Nicholson said in a telephone interview from Rome.

They are primarily killed by gunshot, though some of the wounds were made by machetes. I don't think they were killed in crossfire.

It is interesting, because the forces of President Gbagbo had left that area of Duekoue a week before all of that happened. So that had to have happened with those forces that were Ouattara's. Well, anyway, I am still quoting from this, which was printed in the Washington Post:

Ouattara's forces have also been accused of carrying out reprisal killings and extrajudicial executions of prisoners during their march to the capital.

Gbagbo's forces had vacated a week before.

We have pictures showing the French flags that were on the major massacre that took place and that was the one that took place on Monday night. I have already said all of this on the floor. We have talked about this and the problems.

One thing I haven't mentioned is one of the first things Ouattara did when he marched on Cote d'Ivoire in the south and on Abidjan is to turn to release all of the prisoners in one of the major Abidjan prisons--that is some 5,000 prisoners--and military sources loyal to the incumbent leader Gbagbo said the doors of the MACA prison--that is the big prison in that area--were opened by forces loyal to the President, Presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara, in the midst of an offensive aimed at Gbagbo.

Afterwards, they go into detail as to hearing the gunfire; in other words, releasing prisoners to fight against the sitting President.

Residents near the jail said thousands of youths streamed out of the prison, which had the capacity of 3,000 prisoners, but was believed to be holding over 5,000, into the neighborhood in Abidjan.

We heard gun fire early this morning and afterwards the doors of the prison were opened and prisoners were left shouting for joy.

That is something I have not had in the Record before.

One of the things I have to repeat that I have stated before--let me ask the Chair how much time I have remaining.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has 1 minute remaining.

Mr. INHOFE. I request an additional 10 minutes.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. INHOFE. I wish to speak about one of the testimonials in Duekoue.

I spot four pigs eating something dark in a charred courtyard. Standing by a newly dug mass grave, a UN soldier from Morocco is choking with rage and grief. I asked him if any of the dead are children. He nods and begins to sob, quietly, into his facemask.

This is something that has been happening again. We talked about this before. I don't want to abuse the time we have, but a few minutes ago I got a notice from somebody I happen to know and he says:

I must admit that it was very difficult. This day too--

we are talking about in the last few hours--

has been very confusing with the rebels parading in the streets stealing and dispossessing people of their goods. This is what makes it very dangerous because it is a no law zone. Hundreds of people have started leaving town avoiding the danger in Abidjan.

That is what is happening right now. The report we have now recently is that the Ouattara rebel army is deploying death squads, and I will read from this because I think it is very important that we get this down right, because I am going to make some accusations here that maybe have never been made in recent history on this floor.

I have just received devastating news about the situation in Cote d'Ivoire.

I have been told that there are ``death squads'' roving around the streets of Abidjan ``disappearing''--

they used the word ``disappearing''

supporters of President Gbagbo.

Do they kill the supporters of President Gbagbo? Probably so, but they use the word ``disappearing'' because there is no accounting of it.

These death squads are led by soldiers of Ouattara's rebel Army. They have already killed 400 people in the last few hours.

I am talking about contemporary, right now.

If we do nothing, this soon will include the murder of President Gbagbo and his wife Simone. Ouattara's armed rebels are supported militarily by the United Nations and the French government. I call on UN Secretary General Ban Kee Moon and French President Sarkozy to condemn and halt immediately these ``death squads.'' If they do not, I charge that they are complicit in allowing these death squads to operate freely on the streets of Abidjan.

It also calls for immediate cease-fire.

I will conclude and say that I remember well, because I was around when this happened, and when we knew--some people knew, we didn't know in advance, what was going to happen in Rwanda. President Kagame didn't know what was going to happen in Rwanda. Kofi Annan of the United Nations apparently did know what was going to happen and elected not to say anything about it, so that they weren't warned and 800,000 mutilations later, we know what the genocide was all about. We know now. We know the death squads are there. The death squads have already killed, according to these reports, some 4,000 people in the last few hours.

If we don't do anything about it, I have in my own mind--I feel very certain that those death squads run by Ouattara's rebel army will reach the hiding place of President Gbagbo and his wife Simone and their family, and they, too, will be murdered. If we don't do anything, we have been warned that can happen. We can intervene and stop the death squads roaming around in Abidjan in the country of Cote D'Ivoire.

With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


Source:
Skip to top
Back to top