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Ivory Coast: The French Government Justifies Intervening

Translated Wednesday 13 April 2011, by Claire Scammell and reviewed by Henry Crapo

First it was the Prime Minister, François Fillon, and his Foreign Secretary, Alain Juppé. Now two more government heavyweights have leapt to justify the intervention of French soldiers, which has made possible the capture of Laurent Gbagbo by pro-Ouattara forces.

During an interview on Europe 1 following Gbago’s capture, the Defence Minister, Gérard Longuet, told listeners that “France wanted the situation to be resolved peacefully and wanted the president, who had been defeated (…) to accept this defeat... Democracy is the success of some and the defeat of others. The process must be smooth, without physical elimination.”

Similarly, the government spokesman, François Baroin, in a radio interview broadcasted by RTL, assessed that France had acted “remarkably and irreproachably” and would “accept no moral or political lesson whatsoever from any party. It is not France who has deposed Gbagbo, it is the people of the Ivory Coast … When you have heavy weaponry surrounding the presidential residence and it is striking the civilian population, we were strictly and exclusively within the limits of UN Resolution 1975.”

The spokesman ended by saying, “we are not going to pretend to be sorry to see Gbagbo go. It is good news for the people of the Ivory Coast” and for “the democratic process in Africa”.

These statements have not dispersed the “doubts” voiced by Roland Muzeau concerning the claimed non-participation of French forces in the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo. At the end of a parliamentary meeting led by François Fillon on the situation in the Ivory Coast, the French Communist Party deputy said “we were surprised to learn of the denial of the possible participation by French forces, which was published earlier today”.

Muzeau added, “We hope that what we have been told is the truth. There is a considerable amount of doubt and we sincerely hope that what has been stated today by the Prime Minister and his two ministers (Alain Juppé and Gérard Longuet) will not be refuted tomorrow” by “attentive observers, which would be a major blow to the image of our country.”

The French Socialist Party deputy, François Lamy, reading from a prepared speech, “noted the Prime Minister’s statements that said that French forces did not participate in the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo. Nevertheless, a reasonable doubt persists. It is up to President Sarkozy to respond in the hours to come”.

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