It’s a joke, right?


People say that Gbagbo is a brilliant tactician. I’m not so sure.  If he would have put the same effort and violence into rigging the election that he is now putting into staying in power, he would be much better off.

I’m thinking at the voter registration phase, he could have had his militia and the FPI party organisation to prevent northerners – identifiable by their names – from registering as voters. Then the opposition and the UN would likely complain and Gbagbo could officially deny any wrongdoing (he is good at that). The end result would be either delayed/no elections, or elections Gbagbo would win. In both cases Gbagbo would still be the legitimate president today.

Then we have when Gbagbo said he would remove the blockade of Golf Hotel, and didn’t do it. Twice.   It just made Gbagbo come across as untrustworthy – I can’t see any tactical thought behind it.  I get that he wanted the negotiations to drag on, and make it appear as he was open for finding solutions whereas Ouattara was not.  But calling General Mangou in front of Odinga, to order the blockade to be lifted, while not actually lifting the blockade, makes no sense.

My favourite Gbagbo tactical blunder though, is the handling of the interest payment on Ivory Coast’s bonds.

From Bloomberg:

Ivory Coast Bondholders Must `Recognize’ Gbagbo for Payment

Ivory Coast’s $2.3 billion of Eurobonds fell to a record low as a spokesman for Laurent Gbagbosaid the country will make a missed interest payment only if creditors recognize him as victor of the disputed presidential November elections.


“We did our part of the job and pledged to pay,” Ahoua Don Mello, Gbagbo’s spokesman, said by phone today from Abidjan. “It is now the turn of the lenders to do theirs.” Ivory Coast’s government under Gbagbo will invite creditors to the nation to discuss the terms of the coupon payment, he said.

“It’s a joke, right?” said Phillip Blackwood, head of emerging markets at Sydbank A/S, Denmark’s fourth-largest bank and holder of Ivory Coast debt. Sydbank hasn’t received any of the missed payment, he said in a phone interview.

And here is the take from the straight-shooting financial group blog zerohedge:

Enter The Twilight Zone: World’s Biggest Cocoa Exporter Tells Creditors To Legitimize Corrupt President… Or Face Wipe Out

And so things move from the simply violently revolutionary to the outright surreal, and once again they originate in Africa where today’s TheOnion reality seems to feel most at home in practice. Ivory Coast, the biggest producer of cocoa, today told bondholders of $2.3 billion in debt that unless creditors legitimize the corrupt incumbent regime, and recognize voted out president Laurent Gbagbo, then the country will not make an interest payment on its bonds which already are in a grace period, and will essentially default, unless the political gridlock is resolved in two weeks. “It’s a joke, right?” said Phillip Blackwood, head of emerging markets at Sydbank A/S, Denmark’s fourth-largest bank and holder of Ivory Coast debt. No, unfortunately it isn’t.

And some of the comments on zerohedge are pretty good too:


Good point.  If GooBagBalls weren’t such a comic book character, I’d probably even tuck this one into my tin foil hat band.


Unbelievably funny!

“We did our part of the job and pledged to pay”

(so pay )

“Now it’s the turn of the lenders to do theirs”

Maybe he expects the bankers to take compensation for the missed coupon to be paid in chocolate dollars?


They’ll send him a chest full of chocolate gold coins which he’ll open, and as he is just forming the words ‘what the f….’, a couple of helicopter gunships will get up close and personal.


UPDATE:  There is a follow-up of the zerohedge story here.


2 thoughts on “It’s a joke, right?

  1. Pauline

    I’m not sure if I agree with you. Gbagbo may be a useless long-term tactician but he is a brilliant liar and excellent at using twisted blaming-the-victim logic that leaves most people confused enough to start questioning his rivals. This weekend the AU called again for a lifting of the blockade — to me, it’s a sure sign that Gbagbo has managed to confound the mediators by pretending he’s actually prepared to do it. We may know he has no intention of easing the blockade, but over there in Ethiopia they still seem to think Gbagbo is ready to compromise. Sadly, his fake bonhomie, false promises and strong-arm tactics have gained him the upper hand.

  2. Yeah, well, you got to have some tactical skills to get to the top of any large organisation. And I am not sure I can name a single dictator who isn’t also a good liar.

    Ok, let me rephrase it, compared to other dictators Gbagbo is a pretty bad tactician.

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