Intervention, Why Not?

7 Jan 2011

Presidential election dispute between two Ivory Coasts potent figures has stolen international attention. As an incumbent candidate, Laurent Gbagbo asserted to extend his tenure by a disgraceful act, so to speak. Despite of his shocking lost to his rival, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara, Gbagbo refused to hand over the chairmanship nor had he acknowledged Ouattaras victory by utilizing the Supreme Court to void election result.

Gbagbo persistence to conserve his presidency has raised tense in West Africa region. International community such as UN, European Union, African Union and United States stated their support to Ouattara. The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) harshly condemned Gbagbo and forced him to delegate his presidency to Ouattara in peace. Neglecting the call of Ecowas, head-stoned Gbagbo claimed himself as the newly-elected president. Furthermore, he asked ECOWAS and the world not to interfere, by any means.

ECOWAS has decided to interfere the crisis, considering that its call was ignored by Gbagbo. By sending President Boni Yayi, President Ernest Bai and President Pedro Pires to meet Gbagbo, ECOWAS expected that the meeting would hopefully breed some fruitful results for Ivory Coast so it would also be good for its neighbors and kept the region stable. As a back-up plan, if the negotiation meets deadlock, ECOWAS has prepared its allies-armies to tackle the problem. By now, the world is about to witness whether or not ECOWAS uses its military forces toward Ivory Coast.

In the past time, ECOWAS had used its military force to interfere in some conflicts in Africa. ECOWAS had sent soldiers to Sierra-Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Liberia, to end civil wars and to watch over disarmament treaties. The results were not bad at all, civil wars had ended in Liberia whilst Sierra-Leone remained secure. In short, West Africa would use any means necessary to maintain their region stable, through dialogue, diplomacy bluffing or even military intervention.

How are such problems solved in South East Asia? Well, ASEAN seems to have its own way to create stability on its region. You may like or dislike it, but it would be everything but military forces to handle disputes here, in the region of South East Asia. There is no country in ASEAN nor does ASEAN itself possesses track record of doing so, in order to interfere others home dispute for the sake of our regions stability.

1991s Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi had won peoples heart on 1990s Burma election. National League for Democracy (NDL), a political party led by Suu Kyi, was a winner on 1990s election by gaining 59 percent of the national votes and respectively 81 percent of the seats in Parliament. Despite of her profound victory, she never wore her crown since she be detained by Burmas military junta on absurd allegations of violating the dubious State Protection Act. A victor had turned into victim in Burma.

The same as ECOWAS firstly did, ASEAN condemned Suu Kyis detention in all of both international and regional forums. No military forces, because most of ASEANs countries prefer to (always) use talks rather than violence. It took almost 20 years, from 1990 up to 2010, for Suu Kyi to finally enjoy her freedom, with or without the role of ASEAN on her release.

I would not recommend ASEAN to do what ECOWAS did on military intervention. We consciously realize that the same approach could not be applied instantly in a totally different character of region, hoping for the exact successful stories. Therefore, as a regional community, ECOWAS seems to be more passionate than ASEAN on ensuring the work of democracy in the region. ECOWAS seems to have all options needed, from soft to hard, from dialogue, extra dialogue up to military force. I wonder if this kind of anti-intervention behavior in South East Asia is influenced by one of ASEANs leader which has been very popular for his no-intervention commitment which he often conveys on many occasions for many cases. Hopefully not !



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