On Tuesday, April 12, 2011, an impassioned Senator Jim Inhofe waited for Senator Chuck Schumer to finish his latest harangue on the federal budget. Inhofe then took the floor to speak about the Ivory Coast, where Islamist Alassane Ouattara has taken control with the aid of a United Nations resolution and French military forces. Inhofe is known for his expertise on the continent within the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he serves as the second ranking member. But even more so, he is known for his love for Africa.
“I’m going to be offensive,” the Republican from Oklahoma warned. He advised that he would offend not only the Ouattara regime, but the United Nations, France, and the U.S. State Department. All of these have sided with Ouattara, even as his supporters slaughter Ivory Coast Christians in a manner eerily reminiscent of the slaughter perpetrated by Kenya’s Odinga, another Islamist supported by the Obama administration. Inhofe was committing this particular offense for the fifth time in a few weeks. He reminded his fellow senators that in the days leading to the assault on Abidjan he had said that “this was going to happen” and that he had warned the UN and the State Department “that they would have blood on their hands.”
Previously, in an April 7 press statement, Inhofe countered a French Embassy “fact sheet” defending their military intervention in Abidjan as “designed to neutralize the heavy weapons used against civilian populations and UN personnel.” But Inhofe said that in the densely populated city of Abidjan, “the collateral damage caused by the attacks…has caused hundreds if not thousands of civilian casualties.” He also expressed his concern for the hundreds of young supporters of President Gbagbo that had formed a human shield around the presidential palace, saying, “No one knows how many of these youths have been killed by UN and French forces.”
In his Senate floor speech, Inhofe revealed that he could not get the State Department to tell him how many innocent civilians had been killed by the French gunfire that “peppered the entire town” of Abidjan. Nor would the State Department condemn the use of “so-called peacekeeping forces that have caused countless deaths.” He read a statement from Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, who said he “was not pleased with the way the international community…had thrown its weight behind Alassane Ouattara” and that there should have been an investigation into election rigging. He also quoted the president of the African Union, Dr. Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of Malawi, who said that “Africa must manage its own affairs.”
Senator Inhofe displayed enlarged photos on an easel as he spoke. He showed Abidjan in flames. He showed Ouattara’s roving death squads, which, he said, have been “disappearing” supporters of Gbagbo. Such was definitely the case in the western Ivory Coast town of Duekoue, where a massacre of as many as 1000 pro-Gbagbo supporters, mostly Christians, took place between March 27 and 30. Even Human Rights Watch agreed with the senator about this, saying that “forces loyal to Ivory Coast’s democratically elected president have killed hundreds of civilians, raped his rival’s supporters and burned villages during an offensive to try to put Alassane Ouattara in office.”
One survivor, Philomene Houe, told the Associated Press that the first to be killed were the men and young boys, but that on Tuesday, March 29, “they started killing everyone.” She said that the Ouattara forces killed mothers and children, including shooting a young neighbor and her 6-month-old baby, and the elderly. By Wednesday, Houe said that Ouattara’s troops were using machetes. “They were slitting people’s throats, anyone — men, women, children,” she said.
Many victims were targeted for their ethnicity, including the area’s predominantly Guere population, Christians who largely supported Gbagbo in the election. Other reports now say that some 40,000 refugees are seeking shelter at the Roman Catholic Salesian Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus mission in Duekoue.
As Inhofe described the attack on Abidjan and the French Special Forces assault against the palace of Ivory Coast former president, Laurent Gbagbo, he said, “I hope every president of a Sub-Saharan country is watching…this could happen to any of them.” What Senator Inhofe left unsaid: It could happen to any of them if the UN decides it is time for them to be replace. It could happen to any of those now standing in the way of the Islamization of Africa.
Inhofe repeated the statement he had made previously, countering the French “fact sheet,” that the results of the presidential election had been correctly certified. He said that the Independent Electoral Commission “did not fulfill its constitutional mandate to announce the final provisional vote tallies within three days.” He added that he believed that it was the Constitutional Council of Cote D’Ivoire and not the Electoral Commission that was supposed to certify and declare the winner of presidential elections.
“It seems that this election was not carried out in accordance with the constitution of Cote D’Ivoire,” Inhofe said. He added that there was “evidence of massive electoral fraud in the rebel held north.” In a report that Senator Inhofe submitted to Secretary of State Clinton, he included tallies of electoral precincts showing that in the first round of voting, Gbagbo got thousands of votes in each northern precinct, but in the run-off, he received zero votes. He also submitted to Clinton an electoral document showing Ouattara receiving a total of 149,598 votes from one of the five northern regions. “But when the total is officially reported in the ‘total vote’ column, Ouattara receives 244,471; a difference of 94,873 votes,” said Inhofe.
“From all the evidence I now have gathered, I am convinced that it is mathematically impossible for President Gbagbo to have lost the election by several hundred thousand votes,” Inhofe declared. He repeated his call for an independent investigation of the election, as well as for an end to Ouattara’s death squads. “This is just as bad as, if not worse than, Libya,” he said with disgust.
“Our State Department has got to wake up,” Inhofe said. “They can’t assume because the UN is doing something that it is right.” He called the intervention in Ivory Coast a “return to French colonialism, with the help of the United Nations.” But as Joseph Klein said in Front Page Magazine earlier this week, this is an Islamic takeover of Ivory Coast, with the help of the United Nations. This is something more ominous than French colonialism.
News reports insisted that the UN was ensuring the security of the Gbagbos. A favorite photo in all of the mainstream media reports show a sad-faced, otherwise untouched Gbagbo sitting on a hotel bed. But Senator Inhofe had other photos to display. One showed Laurent Gbagbo with a bruised face. And in another, Ouattara’s men circle Simone Gbagbo. Inhofe said that the thugs had pulled out her hair by the roots and then went to the streets, displaying her hair to mobs of cheering Ouattara supporters. Again Inhofe repeated his warning to other Sub-Saharan African leaders, saying, “This could happen to you. This could happen to your wife.”
Inhofe concluded by indicating that Senate Foreign Relations head John Kerry is “willing to have hearings” on the flawed election and the atrocities committed by Ouattara. By his comments on the floor of the United States Senate, and now a part of the Congressional Record, Senator Inhofe may have offended many people. But that does not concern him. What concerns him are the people of the Ivory Coast, such as those who are now flooding his Facebook page with desperate pleas for help and with touching gratitude to a United States senator who hears their cries and is fighting for their lives.
Faith J. H. McDonnell directs The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).