Mediation of South African President in Ivory Coast

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[edit] About the mediation of South African President in Ivory Coast

Small flashback, on November 2004, to review the case of the "mediation" in an armed conflict in Ivory Coast:

First of all it has to be noticed that the intervention of politicians as a mediator is common in Africa. Geographical distance can influence the choice of the mediator. Is it a guarantee of no interest?

What interests us here is not the reason of the conflict, but the behavior of the "mediator" which inevitably determines the mediation context. The media and different sources of information like Internet enable us to gather information. Indeed, in front of microphones and video cameras, few are those individuals who are not tempted to leave comment and, pity, to share their viewpoint.

[edit] Review

When the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, while concluding the ten months of mediation within the Ivorian crisis, he clearly said: "President Gbagbo has done everything that has been requested to him. We cannot request more from him" - Posted by "Notre Voie" (Our Way" (Abidjan) and November 16, 2005 on the web by Augustine Kouyo).

This snippet of comment from a "mediator" presents a dynamic of bias that is not participating in the logic and spirit of mediation.

The journalist's commentary specified: "The mediator had clearly identified the rebels as those who do not want to implement their part of commitment".

From the outset, which in itself is a good thing, the Ivorian President praised South African President for his talents of mediator: "The South African president has worked with a lot of method -that some have considered as slowness-, perspicacity, but also a lot of modesty, while previous facilitators gave us mainly lessons and directives".

What party of a conflict would not try to seduce or convince a mediator? It's logic! This kind of viewpoint inspires gratitude for the trust expressed and mediation starts on good basis.

Indeed, trust is an essential element that a mediator must be capable to inspire. Without trust, he cannot proceed. Suspicion may arise because of the knowledge that a party has regarding the mediator or the lack of trust of a party in oneself to accept in "good faith" the intervention of a neutral and impartial third party.

But "Mbeki has not always been praised. His impartiality has been questioned, at least informally, by the New Forces which believe that he has been manipulated in the beginning by a man named Gbagbo introducing himself as a victim of French neo-colonialism"(Source website RFI).

Regarding the mediator, vigilance must prevail. He must be careful not to mix his own interests - from what he has been accused by the leaders of the rebellion: "The mediation led by President Thabo Mbeki has been discredited and disowned by all seminarians (rebel) who accuse him for his inclinations of economic expansionism, his partiality regarding the provided judgments and information about arms sales to the regime of Laurent Gbagbo".

The leaders of the rebellion declared the failure of mediation (August 2005); related to the mediator's judgments: - "I am not alone in thinking that President Gbagbo should keep his functions until the elections". Taking the risk of compromising the success of the mediation and being accuses of bias by a party (AllAfrica - October 20, 2005). Despite the criticisms that have been reproached to him, the South African President did not give up. Indeed he has committed awkwardnesses, indeed he has expressed conclusions regarding what seemed reasonable to him, indeed, he has chosen a bias... but should he not have done it?

As a supplement, see:

By Jean-Louis Lascoux, on November 22nd, 2005

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