#Article (Archive)

Laurent Gbagbo finally at the Hague!

Dec 7, 2011, 12:11 PM

There is no doubt that the humiliation faced by the former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo, when he first appeared before the International Criminal Court in the Hague on Monday should be food for thought for all serving leaders in the continent today.

We hope that this truth will finally dawn on all who are wise; that these developments serve as an eye opener to all those African leaders who think they have power, when in actual fact real power definitely resides in the will of people.

It is clear that the practice of true democracy, that is, government of the people, by the people and for the people, should be the guiding principle of all African leaders who want to live in peace.

No matter how good a leader might claim to be, come the day your people say they do not need you anymore, you should be prepared to leave honourably, as some leaders did.

Laurent Gbagbo put up an unnecessary show of stubbornness, clinging on to power by a weak and overstretched string when results certified by the United Nations show that he lost to Ouattara.

The writing was too legible on the wall to be ignored, yet a history professor who ruled the West African state of Ivory Coast for a little over a decade turned a blind eye to the many lessons history is replete with on the foolishness of dictatorship and greed for power.

So obsessed with power, Gbagbo had the wrong feeling that he was in charge in his bunker, completely ignorant of the reality of the dynamics in the world above his basement hideout.

No wonder, when time caught up with him, he perspired profusely, as someone else helped him dress up for the short but momentous trip to the Golf Hotel from where he was detained before finally moved to The Hague, totally humiliated before millions of persons who watched the TV footages across the world.

The end had indeed come as his soldiers, among them his so-called confidantes and special troops, have now surrendered to troops loyal to President Alassane Ouattara.

As we always emphasize in these pages, power belongs to the people, and the world has now reached a stage where no leader or government can rule its people anyhow.

Leaders must understand that the people have long recognized that they have rights, and freedom of choice in the way they are governed.

Many have wondered why such an intellectual would treat the realities of life like he did, wondering whether absolute power really makes people forget the realities of life.

The story of Laurent Gbagbo is a replica of what befell other dictators in Africa and elsewhere. Gbagbo, who dared the whole world and armed his soldiers to the teeth, now reduced to the level of a captured prisoner, is an apt statement about the emptiness of the ephemeral world.

That African leaders can allow themselves to be dealt with decisively by the realities of history is mind-boggling. At a time when it is appropriate for them to leave, they refuse to do so, and live in dangerous denial as Gbagbo did, even when times have changed.

Leaders should always read the writing on the wall, and note that whether it is today or tomorrow, they will surely leave the presidential palace and office, as it is not their personal property.

“Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.” 
Blaise Pascal