IRONY OF IRONIES - ERNEST BAI KOROMA GOVERNMENT (AFRC MK2) FULLY SUPPORTS MILITARY INTERVENTION IN IVORY COAST
Given the fighting talk of Information Minister I B Kargbo, one would have thought that by now the recalcitrant incumbent President Gbagbo would have been removed by a military force from Sierra Leone led by Defence Minister Parlor Conteh.
ECOWAS, the regional body which first hit upon this idea is now having second thoughts and has instead opted for the diplomatic offensive while seemingly preparing a force to go in and oust Gbagbo by the scruff of his wretched neck.
The United Nations Security Council has ante-ed up the military possibility with a resolution authorising the transfer/redeployment of two thousand troops and three helicopter gun ships from the peace mission in Liberia, UNMIL.
And so you will have to pinch yourself to ensure it is not all in a dream when Ernest Bai Koroma leader of the AFRC sans the uniform supporting military intervention in a West African country where an incumbent Head of State refuses to relinquish power even though the international community had ruled he lost.
The Sierra Herald finds it ironic when one takes into consideration what obtained in Sierra Leone in 1997 and the unfolding events in Ivory Coast.
In Sierra Leone, no government, no country recognised the junta that had seized power calling itself the AFRC. As a matter of fact, all the diplomats resident in the country left after witnessing the bloodletting and anarchy visited upon the people of Sierra Leone. The only diplomatic presence was that of Guinea which had hoped, through its ambassador in Freetown that the Johnny Paul Koroma-led junta and his RUF partners in rape, murder, arson, plunder and arson would see the folly of their action and obey the calls of the people of Sierra Leone, the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity, OAU, at that time as well as ECOWAS that they leave power and hand over the reins of government to the ousted President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
The more the international community and the majority of Sierra Leoneans prevailed upon them to leave, the more their hearts became hardened as they continued with their massive human rights violations against the people they were holding as hostages.
Indeed, their soldiers and armed bandits and murderers openly boasted that should any attempt be made at military intervention, it would be the civilians who would suffer. They boasted that any attempt by the Nigerian-led ECOMOG intervention force to remove them would see the mass slaughter of civilians and that they would no longer wear uniforms but would don civilian attire to fool the intervention forces.
Any civilian who dared to call for a military intervention during those trying times was summarily executed.
One of the junta top guns, one Colonel Samuel O. Williams was overheard on the military communication radio telling the Nigerian ECOMOG officers at Jui that should any move be made to advance towards Freetown, he, Sierra Leonean military man S.O.Williams boasted that Freetown would be razed to the ground. Perplexed Nigerian officers could not understand why a Sierra Leonean army officer could issue such a threat. One of them told him, "But Freetown is your capital. We are not talking about Lagos, Abuja or any city or town in Nigeria".
And now it is the same military which still harbours the likes of S.O.Williams that is ready to send troops to Ivory Coast. I would urge the commander of such a force to send the Sierra Leone contingent right into the Gbagbo-controlled area so they can get a taste of what they dished out to their victims in Sierra Leone during those dark days.
Oh how we wish that all the thieving brothers and relations of Ernest Bai Koroma would be handed rifles to go into battle.
The Ghanaian leader Prof Mills is no fool. He knows what it means to militarily take on the national army of Ivory Coast. He knows or could have been told what it means to have troops in Ivory Coast, never mind the criticisms that are being levied against him.
In the first place how do you go about inserting an intervention force?
Where would the contributing troops be coming from?
What is the command structure going to be like?
How do you co-ordinate the various units and who will be the overall commander?
Is it going to be a simultaneous land, sea and air insertion?
And above all, those calling for the immediate removal by force of Laurent Gbagbo including Sierra Leone's Ernest Bai Koroma appear to have forgotten the politics of getting an effective troop co-ordination scenario on the ground given the rivalry between the various West African countries.
Have they forgotten the traditional rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria?
Or have they easily forgotten that the first ECOMOG commander was a Ghanaian who lost command to Nigeria with Nigeria always remaining in control.
We understand Sierra Leone is preparing to send troops and if we know the thieving things well it is not in furtherance of enforcing democracy, but more so to harvest the allowance that would be paid to the men and women (the canon fodder) that are to be sent into the cauldron that awaits them in Ivory Coast.
The Sierra Herald would dearly love to see Defence Minister Pallo Conteh leading our contingent into battle.
That would really be the day.