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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ivory Coast's former first lady Simone Gbagbo sentenced for 20-years


Power is addictive – absolute power corrupts absolutely,  goes the saying ! 

On a different note, despite the growing number of black women appearing in major TV roles, there is still a stunning lack of diversity when it comes to the way these women wear their hair, says some reports.  From the time of infancy, many Black girls are assessed on a beauty spectrum that is drenched in white beauty politics — whether it is commentary on skin tones or emphasis on certain textures of hair being better or more beautiful than others, with looser textures being the most desired.  Even with a Black natural hair movement, there will always be the erasure of blackness by outside corporate forces.  The natural hair movement is about acceptance of Black beauty in all shades and hair textures. It purposely ignores the white beauty standards and uplifts black beauty.  

One of its many protagonists is -   Lupita Nyong’o  an actress best known for her first feature film role in Steve McQueen’s historical drama12 Years a Slave. In 2014, she was named “The Most Beautiful Woman” by People magazine.  In Abidjan, hair can be a contentious topic. Many Ivorians are persuaded to eschew their natural hair in favour of chemical straighteners, wigs and extensions. Afros and dreadlocks are rarely depicted on local television, and those that wear their hair naturally can be shunned from their offices. The tide is slowly starting to turn, however, thanks in part to the efforts of a community movement.  

Abidjan is the economic capital of Ivory Coast and is the most populated West African French-speaking city.  Considered the cultural crossroads of West Africa, Abidjan is characterized by a high level of industrialization and urbanization.  Ivory Coast  is a country in West Africa. Ivory Coast's de jure capital is Yamoussoukro and the biggest city is the port city of Abidjan.

Cocoa is the biggest cash crop in Ivory Coast, yet smallholder farmers struggle to get financing as they try to earn a living while satisfying the world's sweet tooth.  The recent rainfalls in the Region are raising their hopes amidst unusually  hot, dry weather earlier that led to smaller beans and fears that the April-September mid-crop could be delayed by up to two months.  Another news is to cheer is that of discovery in an offshore block  by an UAE company. 

Unfortunately, this African Nation is in news not for cocoa or natural hair but for wrong reasons.  Ivory Coast achieved independence in 1960, led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled the country until 1993.  Since the end of Houphouët-Boigny's rule in 1993, Ivory Coast has experienced one coup d'état, in 1999, and two religiously-grounded civil wars: the first taking place between 2002 and 2007, and the second during 2010-2011.

The  political crisis in Ivory Coast began after Laurent Gbagbo, the President of Ivory Coast since 2000, was proclaimed the winner of the Ivorian election of 2010, the first election in the country in 10 years. The opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara, and a number of countries, organisations and leaders worldwide claimed Ouattara had won the election. After months of attempted negotiation and sporadic violence, the crisis entered a decisive stage as Ouattara's forces began a military offensive in which they quickly gained control of most of the country and besieged key targets in Abidjan, the country's largest city. International organizations  reported numerous human rights violations, and the UN undertook its own military action with the stated objective to protect itself and civilians. A significant step in bringing an end to the crisis occurred on 11 April 2011 upon the capture and arrest of Gbagbo in Abidjan by pro-Ouattara forces backed by French forces.

Now comes the news that a Court in Ivory Coast on Tuesday sentenced former first lady Simone Gbagbo to a 20-year prison term on charges of "undermining state security" during post-election violence in 2010-2011 that left nearly 3,000 dead. The wife of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo was also accused of "disturbing public order" and "organising armed gangs" after her husband and his supporters rejected results of December 2010 presidential elections showing rival Alassane Ouattara had won the contest.

The court "unanimously" condemned her to 20 years in jail, court president Tahirou Dembele said in a statement Tuesday. Gbagbo's face hardened as the verdict was read.  Gbagbo's son Michel, a French-born dual national from a previous marriage, was also sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the violence.  Once referred to by admirers and opponents alike as Ivory Coast's "Iron Lady," Simone Gbagbo has been on trial since January with 82 co-defendants accused of varying degrees of involvement in the deadly unrest.

She earlier told the court that she "forgives" her accusers, saying: "I have suffered humiliation on humiliation during this trial. But I am ready to forgive... because if we do not forgive, the country faces a crisis worse than what we experienced." But Gbagbo, 65, had been charged with undermining state security and sentenced for 20 years.  Her husband, former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court.  The ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo too, but this was dismissed by the Ivorian government.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

10th Mar 2015.

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