Senegal & the Ivory Coast: US & France "cooperate"

gdunkel at gdunkel at
Mon Sep 30 21:30:09 MDT 2002

The best available source for news from Senegal is

a French language newspaper published from Dakar.  It can take a while
to download, but it is up-to-date and reflects what is happening in
Francophone West Africa.

Looking thru the dosier Le Soleil put together on the wreck of the le
Joola, you get a different impression on the causes of the wreck.

It was a relatively new ship, built for the coastal shuttle between
Ziguinchor and Dakar in a German shipyard in 1990.  It had just been
refurbished, but one engine was out-of-service.  It not only was carrying
over 1000 passengers, but also a great deal of general merchanise on
trucks and cars.

It already had had a few problems but the immediate cause of the
accident, according to Le Soleil, is yet to be determined.  Some
politicians say the weather, others technical errors, other administrative

It is a major tragedy and has obviously aroused the anger of the
Senegalese people.

Let me point out that one reason why a coastal ferry is so important in
linking southern Senegal, called Cassamance, with the rest of the
country is the existence of Gambia.

Gambi stretches along the Gambia River, about 5 to 10 miles on each
side for a few hundred miles.  It is a former British colony, whereas
Senegal is a former French colony and even after 40 years of formal
independence, it is still difficult for Senegal and Gambia to work together
and build the roads and bridges Senegal alone would use.

Once the imperialists underdevelope Africa, it tends very strongly to stay
that way.

Given the highly charged political situation in Senegal, it was a bit
surprising to see that Prime Minister  Mame Madior Boye go to Ghana
for a conference in Ghana on the Ivory Coast.

Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa, also was there and the
Ecomag conference agreed  to send 4,000 "peace keepers" to the Ivory
Coast, where they will prop up the regime of President Laurent Gbagbo.

It seems clearer and clearer that both France and the United States are
cooperating in the Ivory Coast, a very significant French neo-colony.
They want to keep Gbagbo in charge, avoid the chaos that has afflicted
Siera Leone and Liberia.

The U.S. got 200 soldiers into the area the day after the second-largest
city in the Ivory Coast, Bouake, fell to the mutineers.  But France had
600 or so marines permanently garrisoned in Abidjan, and could move in
another 300 from bases in Gabon quickly.

The US had the air transport to move the foreign nationals, while the
French had the contacts to make a deal with the mutineers to avoid
setting off an armed conflict.

Reading the French newspapers, you can see the French living in the
Ivory Coast were teachers, but also owned pharmacies, nice restaurants,
small businesses etcetera.  They were not just representatives of big
French capital.

The U.S. would like to surplant France, and that's the competition that
was going on.  They not only want to cut France out of Iraq's oil, they
want to cut it out of Africa.

Senegal had to have one of its main leaders in Ghana to represent
France's interests in the African force that is going to serve as the veil for
the imperialists' conniving and manipulation in the Ivory Coast.

Naked imperialist interference into the internal affairs of an African
country has become harder and harder to sell.  The US and France can
sell their intervention to their own citizens as "protecting the innocent"
MKs (missionary kids) but in Africa that no longer washes as well.

(Johnnie Stevens has an interesting article laying out the US/French
conflict in the Ivory Coast in the Jan 13, 1999 Workers World at )

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