The arrest of Charles Ble Goude, the youth minister of ex-president of Cote D’Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo, in Ghana and flew into Abidjan in handcuffs has baffled advocates of peace and unity, especially sympathizers of the ousted leader who is still in The Hague awaiting trial in the International Criminal Court, ICC.
Although the fugitive youth leader incited hatred and created lots of enemies than friends in the last days of Gbagbo in power by rallying youths to resist the French and the takeover of Alassane Ouattara as the UN backed president elect, it was more of a humiliation than trying to pave way for justice in a democratic society to have showcased him to the rest of the world in cuffs.
After Ouattara who remains the core of what is better described as the ‘Ivorian problem’ in this country, which was once the EL Dorado of Africa , finally became leader, what everyone wished and expected from him was to reconcile the people of Cote D’Ivoire and not to humiliate his enemies or opponents.
This anger was highlighted recently by the lawyer of the youth leader in a press conference which, he expressed his dismay on the handling of the yet-to-be-tried leader alleged to be responsible for most of the troubles and chaos leading to torture and disappearing of people just before Gbagbo was captured and forced out in April 2011. This irritation simply seems to be a testimony of what the supporters of the ousted president are feeling or enduring living in a society where being a member of the opposition is a crime.
Revenge is not sweet
It is true that Ouattara himself went through thick and thin – many torture, ill-treatment, intimidation and sleepless nights in hiding – en route to his pursuit to become the leader of the people. However, having finally realized his dream like Nelson Mandela of South Africa, the past must be laid to rest. If what does not kill us instead makes us stronger, therefore, we must learn to forgive and forget for the common interest of unifying a divided country. Of course, that doesn’t mean that people alleged to have committed crimes against humanity or to be responsible for all the atrocities the country has gone through should be let off the hook – need not stand for trial in a court of justice. Any lawyer would surely tell you that even the most gruesome murderer still deserves a fair treatment in accordance with the respect of human rights, until found guilty.
In a modern society where human rights records reflect how far we practise or understand the rights to free and fair justice, Goude, is not exception. Although he has been on the run since his boss, Gbagbo was captured, just as any member of that regime, he still deserves some respect and fair play in the game of politics, until any investigation has proven that he was a ‘wanted person’. After all people come and go, government come and go as well, but the state will always remain for the people.
South Africa example fit so well into the current atmosphere in Cote D’Ivoire, and whether it has been by design or destiny, the leaders of South African have been acting the role of mediators in this crisis. Talking of South Africa again, If Goude can be compared to Julius Malema, the suspended ANC youth wing leader and prominent critic of President Zuma, there is no need to humiliate him, as no one can say if he shall one day turn a good leaf and become president. We can only condemn his misdeeds and approach to democracy, but we can’t stop his destiny or what he is dreaming of becoming in future. Even Mandela himself had a rough ride as youth leader before learning, improving and growing up to become the people’s leader.
Give peace a place
I am yet to know any president or leader that organised a transparent and fair democratic election and won by a 100 per cent. Even if the victory margin is pretty high, once in power, the winner or person is president for everyone, including losers and enemies. People will switch camps and sides, from enemies to friends as well as jealous friends and relatives to enemies. The most important think as a leader that upholds democracy and the practice of good governance is to work with everyone for the benefits of the masses since a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Goude is just one out of the many still on the run in exile, however, if we most give peace a chance they must be given a fair treatment and judgement, and those who are already in jails awaiting trial must also be considered. I believe President Ouattara already has enough enemies in the old camps to change into friends, and there is virtually no need to create more enemies through humiliation and maltreatment. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.