OPEN LETTER ADDRESSED TO HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANÇOIS THE VATICAN

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ALERT MESSAGE :
TAKE ACTION NOW TO PREVENT THE RISK OF SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND OF A CIVIL WAR IN COTE D’IVOIRE IN OCTOBER 2020.

SIGNED BY THE LEADERS OF IVOIRIANS-ITALIAN AND FRIENDS OF CÔTE D’IVOIRE PLATFORM

BRESCIA, February 1st2020

HOLY FATHER,
PLEASE PROMPTLY RESCUE CÔTE D’IVOIRE…
Holy Father ;
From November 28th 2010 until April 11th 2011, Côte d’Ivoire and Ivoirians experienced one of the most serious and deadly post-electoral crises in the world, with more than three thousand (3000) deaths officially declared.
The entire responsibility for this crisis was attributed to the President of the Republic in office at the time of these events, on the pretext that he had lost the election. Consequently, his excellence Mr. Laurent GBAGBO and the republican armed forces of Côte d’Ivoire were militarily attacked by elements of the former Ivorian rebellion in favour of Mr. Alassane D. OUATTARA. Thus, with the active intervention of the international community, notably the French army, the power of President GBAGBO was overthrown, himself captured on April 11th 2011 and transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, in order to be tried and sentenced for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
But against all expectations, after eight years of judicial proceedings, on January 15th 2019, MM. Laurent GBAGBO and Charles BLE GOUDE, his ex-Minister of Youth, were fully acquitted and released on conditions – which is another injustice – by the Court of First Instance of the ICC chaired by the Italian judge CUNO Tarfusser.
During all this time, from April 11th 2011 to date, the other belligerent who won the war thanks solely to the support of French and UN troops, Mr. Alassane D. OUATTARA was to lead Côte d’Ivoire. He did so, against a backdrop of settling of scores, witch hunts, arbitrary arrests and imprisonments of activists and supporters of the defeated camp, rather than truly engaging in a process of national reconciliation.
And yet, despite this inhumane politics put in place as soon as he came to power in violence, it pleased your illustrious predecessor, Pope BENEDICT XVI to grant an audience to the OUATTARA couple on an official visit to the Vatican, on November 16th 2012.
Thank GOD, on the occasion of the 58th anniversary of the independence of Côte d’Ivoire on August 7th 2018, Mr. OUATTARA was to finally concede to criticism and claims, from various sources in the world, by amnestying eight hundred (800) political prisoners, including ex-first lady Simone EHIVET-GBAGBO. The soldiers who loyally defended the republic during the period of crisis, however, still continue to be detained at the Abidjan Military Detention Centre.
Holy Father ;
One could have said that all this is merely raking up the past and that the Ivorian people, who deeply aspire to reconciliation and peace should rather be concerned with writing new pages in the history of this great and beautiful country that is the Cote d’Ivoire.
Very unfortunately, however, the current socio-political situation of the country, a few months before the presidential election of October 2020, in which Mr. Alassane OUATTARA can no longer, according to the Constitution, take part, raises real concerns, as much – if not more – than during the presidential election of 2010. It suffices to cite the case of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), which is the subject of a political conflict, which was brought before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In addition, there are cases of use or instrumentalisation of the Ivorian justice system to disqualify serious candidates who are opponents of the Ouattara power/government:
1/ Former President Laurent GBAGBO, natural candidate for his party the FPI, was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment on Thursday January 18th 2019, when he had just been acquitted at the ICC three days before. In addition, he is currently enduring endless manoeuvers to prevent him from returning at all to Côte d’Ivoire.
2/ The former Minister of Youth Charles BLE GOUDE, also acquitted by the ICC and obvious candidate of his party the COJEP, has also just been sentenced, on December 31st 2019, for 20 YEARS imprisonment and 10 years of deprivation of his civil rights. Meanwhile, the Abidjan regime also prevents him from returning to his country.
3/ The former Prime Minister and ex-president of the National Assembly of CI Guillaume SORO Kigbafori, candidate already declared publicly in the presidential election of October 2020, is currently targeted by an international arrest warrant issued on December 23th 2019. This prevents him also from returning to Abidjan. In addition, the Ouattara regime is preparing to try him and also condemn him in absentia.
4 / The ex-President Henri Konan BEDIE, potential candidate of his party the PDCI-RDA, is also currently in the sights of Mr. Alassane OUATTARA. Said OUATTARA asserts that he wishes to modify the Constitution by the end of March 2020: his supporters are waiting…
For all these reasons, which are fuelling the pre-electoral crisis and crystallising political tensions in Côte d’Ivoire, we have deemed it necessary to call upon, by this URGENT MESSAGE, His Holiness Pope FRANÇOIS, in order to warn the whole world about another tragedy in looming in Côte d’Ivoire, on the occasion of the presidential election of October 2020. Because, for us, it would be cynical and inhumane on the part of the World Community to turn a blind eye today to this situation merely to arrive tomorrow to play ‘‘the doctors after the dead’’.
HOLY FATHER, PLEASE QUICKLY RESCUE CÔTE D’IVOIRE, WHILE THERE IS STILL TIME…
Indeed, despite the false assurances of the Ivorian Head of State and his Government, who claim ‘‘that nothing will happen during the election of 2020’’, the Archbishops and Bishops of Côte d’Ivoire, these illustrious Vatican ambassadors, have rather taken the full measure of the gravity of the Ivorian socio-political situation. Thus, they gathered on the occasion of the 114th Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Côte d’Ivoire (CECCI), which was held from January 13 to 19, 2020 at the Notre Dame du Rosaire center in Lataha, in the locality of Korhogo. There, they delivered to political actors and to the whole world, with impartiality, courage and audacity, an important DEMAND/REQUEST FOR TRANSPARENT, FAIR AND OPEN ELECTIONS, WITH A VIEW TO RECONCILIATION AND PEACE IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE.
These Archbishops and Bishops of Côte d’Ivoire insisted in their message upon the four conditions which political actors, especially the rulers of the country, must observe with a view to a peaceful presidential election. We quote them:
‘‘The first condition to be observed in the preparation of these elections must be reconciliation. This reconciliation presupposes, even demands the return of all exiles with guarantees of security and reintegration, the release of all political and opinion prisoners, without exception, and the thawing of assets. (…)
The second condition is that of concertation and consensus to take into account the legitimate requirements and aspirations of all socio-political actors as well as the informed opinions of the international community.(…)
The third condition must be the establishment and consolidation of the rule of law, which implies respect for the Constitution, so that no one can foster the intention or the will to manipulate the people, texts or institutions that will be involved in the electoral process. In addition, the Executive Power must act in such a way as to guarantee people and institutions, in particular the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), complete independence. (…)
The fourth condition, which is a logical consequence of the independence of the CEI, is that of an open presidential election, which guarantees equal opportunities for all candidates wishing to compete. The fight against exclusion would make sense here.’’
Beyond this important declaration, on January 17th 2020, the Archbishop of Abidjan, Monsignor Jean Pierre KUTWA sent a correspondence to the Parish Priests of the Archdiocese of Abidjan authorising the organisation of a major protest-march to ‘‘raise awareness for peace and pray for peaceful elections in Côte d’Ivoire”. Finally, it is a great prayer which will be retained and organised within St Paul’s Cathedral in Abidjan-Plateau, on February 15th 2020, to avoid any political recuperation and infiltration of ill-intentioned people who reported on social media.
Holy Father ;
Faced with such an alarming situation, presenting all the constituents for yet another serious post-electoral crisis in the making in Côte d’Ivoire, which must have aroused on the part of the Archbishops and Bishops this call to the responsibility of political actors, what should be done to avoid the worst imaginable outcome?
What could the Catholic Church do more than this beautiful Message and this great prayer ceremony, in order to avoid another tragedy for these poor Ivorian populations, these GOD’s creatures who only want to live happily in their country?
What can His Holiness Pope FRANÇOIS do, whose stance and borrowed words of divine Truths, Justice and Mercy, edify and reassure mankind so much since his brilliant election to the Vatican; what can he do to save Côte d’Ivoire from the worst scenario?
FOR OUR PART, under the impulse of the Vatican, the world community should, from now on, be exhorted. It could organise, under the arbitration of the Pope, an international Conference on the pre-electoral situation prevailing in Côte d’Ivoire; in order to bring together all the Ivorian political actors and calm the socio-political climate. The Pope would thence be actively involved in helping the Ivorians to organise a fair, transparent and open presidential election.
SO, THE POPE FRANÇOIS WILL SAVE HUMAN LIVES AND PRESERVE IVOIRIANS AND CÔTE D’IVOIRE FROM THE WORST CONSEQUENCES OF CORRUPT POLITICAL MANIPULATION.

Holy Father ;
Therefore, we are counting on you! The people of Côte d’Ivoire and Africa are counting on you!
MAY GOD DAILY SUSTAIN YOUR HEALTH THROUGHOUT THIS YEAR 2020, AND HIS SON JESUS CHRIST ALWAYS INSPIRE YOU…

Brescia, ITALY, Saturday February 1st 2020
The authors of this urgent message are the leaders of the Platform called Ivorian-Italian Leaders, which brings together civil society organisations and Côte d’Ivoire political parties, whose representatives have resided on Italian territory for several years.
Also, in this process, these Ivorian Leaders are supported and accompanied by Friends of the Platform and Côte d’Ivoire Italians friends.

THE LEADERS OF THE PLATFORM OF IVOIRIANS IN ITALY
(FIDHOP)
Ivorian Foundation for Democracy,
Human Rights and Political Life

COTE D’IVOIRE-FREEDOM OF SPEECH
THE DAUGHTERS OF MARIE KORÊ THE PATRIOTS OF BRESCIA + ZATCHEDA

Collective of Ivorians Wê from Italy
(CIWIT)
Pan African Congress of Young Patriots (COJEP)
UNG : Union of New Generations

FPI : Ivorian Popular Front

FRIENDS OF THE PLATFORM AND OF CÔTE D’IVOIRE
PDCI : Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire
NICOLETTA FAGIOLO
Independent Reporter

PAOLO SANNELLA
Ex Ambassador of Italy and President Center for Relations with Africa (CRA-SGI)

PARTAGER