The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo (63) the wife of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo charged with committing crimes against humanity. Mrs. Gbagbo and her husband were dug out of a bunker by UN and French forces who assaulted their residence in April 2011 after a five month standoff that left the country paralyzed politically, socially, and economically.
Those who hate the snowballing malpractices committed as spouses and children of presidents usurp their relatives’ power welcome the bold move. Africa is currently suffering under rotten and corrupt rulers who allow their families and friends to abusively use their power to rob the public. In many African countries, there are unofficial “presidents” behind the curtain in the name of wives, children, and partners not to mention the cabal of courtiers in the upper echelons of power. They make much money by vending the office of the president. In this business of vending presidency, many African countries have become wantonly bankrupt.
Mrs. Gbagbo is accused of being responsible for "the crimes against humanity of murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, other inhumane acts and persecution.”
Gbagbo’s regime was booted out in 2011 after a long standoff between his forces and those of his former rival-cum-opponent, current president of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattra. The standoff left 3,000 people dead and thousands displaced.
Gbagbo was captured and handed over to the ICC by the authorities in Ivory Coast in April 2011 after his government fell. Apart from facing charges before The Hague, Gbagbo and his wife also were charged with economic crimes such as robbery, looting and embezzlement in Ivory Coast.
Simone, a doctor of History, is said to have waged unfettered power during her husband’s presidency. Gbagbo’s son Michel is facing charges of participating in violence that saw over 3,000 dead. This means that the whole family is behind the bar for abuse of power. What transpired in Egypt where the former president and his sons are behind bars is repeating itself in another African country.
Simone becomes the first African woman and the first- first lady to be indicted by ICC. If there is anything ivoriens won’t forgive Simon for is nothing but forcing her husband to cling to power knowing that such a move would lead to mayhem.
Now that Simone is facing the charges as a wife and confidante of the president, will the seating presidents, their wives, families, friends and majordomos get it? Time will surely tell.
By Nkwazi Mhango
The author is a Canada Based Tanzanian and author of Saa Ya Ukombozi.
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