I’m often surprised that people think autocrat rulers are going to play by the rules. They pretend to, and do when it suits their purposes, but whenever it comes to protecting or strengthening their position of power, or anything else they deem important (say invading Czechoslovakia), the rulebook is out.
In non-democratic regimes important and often not-so-important decisions are taken at the very top. Significant man-made events are almost always a result of decisions from the top, even if denied.
Historical records have shown that Stalin personally ordered the Katyn massacre and Wikileaks showed the other day that China’s politburo ordered the hack into google to get information about dissidents.
Following this logic my bets are on Gbagbo personally ordering:
- The Ivorian state tv RTI to pull out and not to report from the Independent Electoral Commission (the CEI)
- Fake or exaggerated reports of irregularities and violence during the elections in the Ouattara strongholds in the north
- His men in the CEI to do what they can to stop results from being proclaimed (which is likely to prove a bad move from Gbagbo’s perspective)
And quite possibly also:
- Intimidations against supposed RHDP voters on election day
- Fesci’s violence at the PDCI/RHDP headquarter a few days ago (Fesci is a pro-Gbagbo student militia group)
So it looks like we are in the Ouattara wins and Gbagbo tries to stay in power scenario from the Prediction time again post. I never went into speculating exactly how Gbagbo would go on about to stay in power, but now it looks like control of state tv and use of fake and/or bribed African electoral observers testifying of irregularities in the north is a part of the plan.
Maybe Gbagbo is hoping to stop the electoral commission from proclaiming results during the entire three day window given by the constitution, and then use article 48 to disband the electoral commission and the government. And after that to set himself up to be a man of peace and offer Ouattara the prime minister post, while staying president and stopping the violence that is likely to erupt in such scenario.
However, if Gbagbo knew he would lose the elections (and it’s pretty clear he has at this point – the results have leaked out) he would have acted much earlier. I think he and the LMP/FPI are a bit victims of their own propaganda – they really thought they would win.
Now the FPI and Gbagbo are in a tough seat:
- It will be difficult to prevent the results from being proclaimed today
- The results are already out in the open, known by journalists and even published by Senegalese newspapers
- The incident with Gbagbo’s men in the CEI physically stopping the proclamation of results in front of the world’s media is going viral and is very damning for Gbagbo
- Gbagbo’s control of the army seems shaky. There is an unconfirmed rumor that General Mangou has refused Gbagbo’s orders.
- Without the army Gbagbo only has his militia and loyal security forces. With the UN in place these forces seem to be kept in check limiting Gbagbo’s options.
- RHDP and Ouattara are unlikely to accept anything other than the respect of the election results.
- The UN and the international NGOs are all pushing for the results to be proclaimed and respected
UPDATE: One course of action Gbagbo could be following is to first try to get the CEI to not report the north. Without the north Gbagbo wins. If that fails, get the constitutional court where he has some influence to invalidate the results from the north. That would inevitably lead to protests from RHDP and the international community, but gives Gbagbo a fair chance to stay as president.