(A translation of a 6/11/04 article by David Ya in the Ivorian newspaper, Fraternité Matin)
By trying to make an omelet without breaking any eggs, France has ended up losing the sympathy of the Ivorian society, which now repeatedly asks for its withdrawal.
The hesitancy of France, which wants to satisfy all belligerents at the same time, without taking into account what is in the interests of peace at the current moment, has won that country the animosity of all Ivorian factions.
Whether it be the pro-government or ex-rebel camp, everyone severely criticizes the ambiguous role of France, which has refused to adopt a clear position to advance peace in the Ivory Coast. In Abidjan, the “Patriots” have only increased their street protests, asking French soldiers to withdraw so that Ivorians can settle, once and for all, their problems.
Ensconced in his fiefdom in Bouaké, Soro Guillaume endlessly rails against the French Licorne force, which Guillaume considers to be unable to prevent the FANCI [“Ivorian Armed Forces”] fighter planes from flying over the region under his control and from attacking his positions. Guillaume had, in vain, called upon the international community (including the US and France) to pressure the head of the Ivorian state to resign after the bloody crack-down of March 25, 2004.
Nonetheless, the two camps recognize that, were it not for the French and other neutral soldiers, war would have, long ago, broken out once again. For example, the French intervened in M'Bahiakro in order to prevent a group of "young Patriots," supported by a “renegade” division of FANCI, from attacking the region of Bouaké. In addition, there were the violent fights by French forces against “uncontrolled assailants” that attacked Gohitafla last Monday.
Yet Ivorians reproach the slowness of France’s methods that consist of verbal declarations and condemnations of little effect. Without intending it, the French create an ambiance of impunity that encourages repeated attacks and a deterioration of the “neither war nor peace” situation in which Ivorians now exist.
It is not by chance that the “Patriots” repeatedly solicit (in vain) American intervention in order to move things forward. For these “Patriots,” who claim to be tired of living a never-ending war, the Anglo-Saxon method—which consists of clear positions in favor on one side, without taking into account detailed calculations—seems preferable to the often indecipherable French policy.
By trying to make an omelet without breaking any eggs, France has lost the sympathy of the Ivorian people who now call upon that nation’s soldiers to leave.