22/1/11 Peter Clifford –
PREVENT WAR WITH CHOCOLATE
In November 2010 elections were held in the West African State of the Ivory Coast and by all fair assessments the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo lost. Under the rules he should of course stand down and give way to the democratically elected winner, the Opposition Leader, Alassane Ouattara.
The African Union, the UN, the EU and many other countries support the election outcome and have called upon Gbagbo to give way and resign. He still refuses to do so.
The reason why this is important is that the Ivory Coast has a long history of civil war which was only ended by a peace agreement in 2007. Unless this situation is resolved quickly the war will erupt again and 1000’s of men, women and children will lose their lives. Already there are reports of sexual assaults on women who supported the winning candidate.
UN soldiers have been present in the country for a number of years to help maintain the peace. This Wednesday the UN Security Council voted to send another 2,000 troops following attacks on six of their vehicles, some of which were set on fire and two soldiers injured. Gbagbo’s latest move is to order that all UN vehicles should be stopped and searched – an illegal act of course under international law. He has also ordered the UN out of the country.
Faced with the prospect of yet another civil war many citizens with their families and belongings have fled in their thousands to neighbouring countries. Meanwhile Gbagbo is still resident in the Presidential palace, while his election winning rival, Mr. Ouattara, is holed up in the Golf Hotel in the Ivory Coast capital Abidjan, with a force of 800 U.N. peacekeepers protecting him.
CHOCOLATE – YOU SAID? WHAT ABOUT THE CHOCOLATE?
Chocolate comes into this story because the Ivory Coast is the world’s leading producer of cocoa, chocolate’s main ingredient. With concerns about a prolonged interruption to world supplies, the commodity price of cocoa has already jumped to a six month high and could hit $3,300 dollars a ton.
However, cocoa is also the main source of revenue for Gbagbo and his discredited government and the money from cocoa sales is paying the wages of the troops that are keeping him illegally in power. Without that revenue or the continued prospect of it, he will not be able to continue.
AVAAZ, the international voice of people worldwide, is targeting the world’s chocolate manufacturers to put pressure on Gbagbo to stand down and to withhold their orders until he does so.
So, citizens and chocolate lovers worldwide, protect your supplies of chocolate and vote for democracy at the same time! The Ivory Coast supplies between 30% – 40% of the world’s supply of cocoa ($1.4 billion dollars worth plus).
Global Witness, a London based pressure group, estimated in 2007 that more than $30 million of cocoa revenue was being diverted to the purchase of military equipment during the 2002 – 2003 civil war, in much the same way that the sale of diamonds and timber has contributed to propping up illegal regimes previously in neighbouring Liberia.
This must not happen again. The cocoa revenue needs to be used for development to benefit all the Ivory Coast’s citizens, not for sponsoring genocide (or ending up in Swiss bank accounts?).
AVAAZ is therefore petitioning the following chocolate manufacturers to get an effective response:
ADM, Barry-Callebaut, Blommer, Cadbury, Caobisco, Cargill, Cémoi, Cipexi, European Cocoa Association, Federation for Cocoa Commerce, Ferrero, Hershey’s, Kraft, M&M/Mars, National Confectioners Association, Nestlé, Olam, Outspan Ivoire, Pronibex, Révillon, Unilever, Valrhona, World Cocoa Foundation
To send a message to these companies, go to: AVAAZ.org – And send a letter (it’s easy! Just click on 4 boxes at the top of the page and hit “send”) – 227,000 messages so far – Let’s get to 250,000.
To those of you not yet familiar with AVAAZ, it has nearly 7 million members and is incredibly effective in using modern technology to bring the views of citizens globally to the attention of governments, companies and individuals worldwide to bring about rapid change. To learn more about AVAAZ go here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/about.php
The Economist magazine described AVAAZ as “a town crier in the global village, a cross-border fraternity that strives to be seen, heard and heeded.” The article goes on to note that “the movement, using 14 languages and engaged in a mind-boggling list of causes, has had some spectacular successes.” Read the full article…… Economist
So don’t delay, protect your chocolate supplies! keep chocolate prices low! And support Democracy in West Africa Now!
Until the next time,
Peter Clifford: www.petercliffordonline.com
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