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Côte d’Ivoire: The Right to Intervene

Pillar of a New Foreign Policy

Translated Wednesday 1 June 2011, by Kristina Wischenkamper and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Spread the word: Nicolas Sarkozy has taken the measure of the people of Africa’s "profound desire" for democracy.

Analysis Special Envoy.

When France intervened in the Côte d’Ivoire it was "in the name of universal rights, and a strong international mandate." On Saturday in front of a crowd of enthusiastic French nationals, on the Licorne military base Port-Bouet, Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to those French soldiers who had participated in the offensive against Laurent Gbagbo. Let’s never again say the phrase "right to intervene", but rather "responsibility to protect". In Libya as in Côte d’Ivoire, "faced with leaders who massacre their people, the international community decided to act decisively, and it is in France’s honour that she led this just battle," opined the French President in election campaign style.

It wasn’t a one-off initiative but rather a "new African policy, and even a new foreign policy," he continued. Nicolas Sarkozy then referred to a gradual downsizing of the Licorne force (1,100 men at present), while promising to maintain a detachment in Côte d’Ivoire. "We will always keep the military here to protect our citizens!" he said to loud applause.

In this former colony, once the jewel of la Françafrique (a term coined by Felix Houphouet-Boigny), Nicolas Sarkozy intends to restore an “uninhibited’ relationship. "Let us look to the future instead of always looking to the past!" he exhorts. The Elysée welcomes the "demand for France" (and French products) expressed by the new Ivorian authorities, a welcome leg up for France to reposition itself on the continent’s marketplace in the face of stiff competition from developing countries, led by China.

Paris plans to commit "significant resources" to revive "bilateral cooperation". In Abidjan, Nicolas Sarkozy has pledged 2 billion euros to a "debt reduction and development scheme", that is in fact a conversion of debt into public aid. Subsidized loans are under consideration for French companies that account for one third of the Ivorian GDP.

From the defence of universal principles to the crude reality of pecuniary interests in one easy step.

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