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08 February 2007

Violent Death by Assassination Still Haunts Ivory Coast

The gunshot death two nights ago of Michel Niacel, EU officer in charge of staff security in the southern zone of Côte d'Ivoire, has turned into a civil police investigation and not an international affair involving political recriminations.
ball of flame
Staff writer Emmanuel Akani for the Abidjan Matin, however, exaggerates when he implies that it is typical Western paranoia and prejudice that tries to make more of a domestic murder or suicide than is warranted simply because it happens to occur in Africa. Only three days prior to the death of Niacel, there was an attempt on the life of the Ivorian commander Captain Kipré, at the headquarters of the militarised demarcation-line between northern and southern zones. His adjoint, Lieutenant Drihé, was seriously injured by a grenade rigged to explode when anyone opened a bureau drawer in Kirpé's office.

Given recent Ivorian history of violent politico-military reprisals, assassination, and even death squads controlled remotely by Ivory Coast's highest officials, every violent death of a prominent figure in the multinational peacekeeping operation becomes cause for suspicion and alarm.

We, living peaceful lives in industrially advanced countries, like to get our African Realities in movie theatres and suspence-filled novels. We give prizes to the creative authors and directors of the sort of drama that lets us shed a tear for our imaginary Africa. For us, politics goes on in Ottawa, Washington, D.C., London and Paris while what happens in African capitals is intrigue and conspiracy (frequently genocidal).

Given the shroud of doubt about the death of Michel Niaucel at age 53, while serving 'our' West in 'some part of' Africa, while he sleeps with a Western wife in his Western bedclothes . . Given the joint police investigation being closely supervised by French officials, I guess the rest of us can get back to literature and the seven arts.

We still have a raging debate to engage over which is better cinema: "Babel" or last year's "The Constant Gardener". (But first I'll have to rent one and go out to see the other.)

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