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April 12 2011

Gbagbo's fall captured in a snapshot | Martin Argles

An image of Laurent Gbagbo joins a gallery of the powerful captured in defeat – humiliated and shrunken

How do the mighty fall? Well, in the case of former president Laurent Gbagbo, they are detained in a hot bedroom in the Golf Hotel, Abidjan, by forces loyal to his successor Alassane Ouattara.

His cheek swollen from the slap he received from a soldier, he wears the shocked expression of a loved child who has just had his favourite toy wrenched from his grasp. Except in this case the toy is the Ivory Coast. Crouching on the bed by his side is his wife. Like everyone else in the room – the soldiers, the hotel employees – she watches in fascination the humiliation as he is exhibited for the cameras in a gaudy Hawaiian shirt. The colours are of humidity, green and yellow, the unrelenting tropical light from the one window picking out the ageing jowled face so recently feared.

He's not alone in the thin gallery of images of the end of the powerful. Mussolini and his mistress hung upside down in Milan by Italian partisans. Ceauşescu and Elena, joint rulers of a cowed Romania, hastily shot by his own soldiers at the end of a kangaroo military court, she screaming "My children, my children!" Idi Amin of Uganda, exiled to a lethargic retirement in Saudi Arabia, robed in white, grossly fat and dangling a granddaughter on his knee. Manuel Noriega holding his prison number in a Miami station house before extradition to France on money-laundering charges. The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, leaving No 10 in tears, the applause of the civil servants still ringing in her ears intermixed with the shouts of journalists and photographers. Saddam Hussein dug like a beast from his bunker in the Iraqi countryside, unshaven and unrepentant.

In photographs like these the powerful are relegated in a second to the same status as the rest of us. They are no longer idols, but just snapshots. In the case of Gbagbo, even the years seem stripped away along with the trappings. He is suddenly older, his body shrunken in humiliation. His fall has been fast, the humiliation instant.

The picture makes it clear that Gbagbo's fate is now in the hands of others: contrast this with the famous picture of the end of Salvador Allende in Chile, democratically elected yet forced out in a military coup. He emerges hesitantly from the doors of the presidential palace, dressed incongruously in a suit and a helmet askew on his head. As planes strafe the building and his loyal security guards watch for snipers, he has lost control of the country's situation but not of his own. His personal photographer snaps a final picture. In a few minutes Allende would be dead by his own hand.

The democratically elected usually manage to leave with some dignity intact – even if in Britain the removal is often criticised for its humiliating haste. They keep some of the symbols of power: the security, the driver, a little respect. The nation moves on and urges on them a quiet retirement which for these men and women used to the drama and respect of political office must be an excruciating bore. But at least they have escaped being paraded for the cameras in a borrowed Hawaiian shirt slumped at the end of a hotel room bed.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


March 24 2010

Ghana: Do Ghanaian oil fields belong to Ivory Coast?

Joseph Appiah-Dolphyne writes about a dispute that could break out between Ghana and neighboring Ivory Coast, if immediate steps are not taken to enter into appropriate negotiations to redefine the international boundary between the two nations.

Ghana's Western neighbor Ivory Coast is reportedly laying claims to portions of the huge oil wealth in the deep waters of the Western Region of Ghana.

In a move to save the situation, Ghana has begun an urgent move to pass a new law that seeks to establish the Ghana Boundary Commission to undertake negotiations to determine and demarcate Ghana’s land boundaries and de-limit Ghana’s maritime boundaries.

Ghana’s Parliament has therefore been tasked to race against time to pass the Ghana Boundary Commission Bill under a certificate of urgency.

The morning of the news; I twittered about it here;

West Africa: Ivory Coast lays claim to Ghana's oil http://bit.ly/djVBzu

The news of Ivory Coast’s claim to parts of Ghana’s oil fields comes just days after United States operator Vanco Energy struck oil in the deep-water Dzata-1 well, off Ghana’s Cape Three Points near Ivory Coast, further boosting the oil wealth in Ghana’s booming offshore Tano basin.

A few days after this news; another news item was on air from Vanco Energy dismissing the threat of Ghana’s Oil Find. A twitter update from Peacefmonline reads;

Vanco Ghana Dismisses Threat to Ghana’s Find …. http://bit.ly/bPLPEq

Joseph Appiah-Dolphyne once again reported on this new update from the Oil Firm.

He writes;

Petroleum exploration firm, Vanco Ghana Limited, has dismissed suggestions that its oil field in the Western Region is at the centre of a possible boundary dispute between Ghana and the Ivory Coast. The company said its oilfield, known as Gyata 1, is so far away from the maritime boundary between the two countries that it cannot be the subject of any dispute.

He also quoted the Country Manager of Vanco Energy; Mr. Kofi Afenu as saying;

The Ivorian authorities are only seeking negotiations with Ghana over the Jubilee oilfield, which is owned by Kosmos Energy.

Tatamkulua href=”http://tatamkulu.blogspot.com/2010/03/ghana-and-ivory-coast-fight-over-oil.html”> posts an article from the Chronicle quoting Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, saying that Ghana's boundary with Ivory Coast had not been clearly demarcated.

Gayle writes about the topic remembering gas fields dispute between Australia and East Timor:

In Sunday’s post Making Sense of Oil Discoveries in Ghana: Part 1, I explained the oil exploration industry basics. And in my very first post on the subject, Making Sense of Ghana's Oil Discoveries: Introduction, I referred to the potentially problematic border issue:

“It gets quite complicated when the field also happens to sit in disputed areas like major gas fields between Australia and East Timor.

She hopes that the dispute will be resolved faster that Australia and East Timor:

Hopefully this can be resolved faster than Australia and East Timor could resolve their differences. It should be simpler as the issues in this case are less complex (not relating to agreements with a former invading nation, for starters), but rather between amicable neighbours. But they certainly need experienced, honest and independent experts to advise. If not, I won’t be the only person in Ghana throwing my hands in the air and cursing about lost opportunities.

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