US Offered Dictator a Professorship to Step Down

By Nick Gass

Apr 13, 2011 5:19pm

ABC News' Kirit Radia reports:

When former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down following a loss to his political rival in last November’s election, the US floated several offers to entice him to cede power, according to US officials. Among them was a professor position at Boston University, which is home to an African President-in-Residence program.

“I can say that after the November 28th election, the State Department did reach out to Mr. Gbagbo's staff and contacts to discuss the results of the election, first and foremost, and the need for him to step aside and allow for a transition to take place,” State Dept spox Mark Toner says.

“During these calls, it was mentioned, some possible options open to him, by the international community, including potential positions that would draw on his previous background in academia,” he added.

Gbagbo, of course, ignored the offers and refused to step aside. The offer expired at the end of December. Instead, he stepped up a military campaign against Alassane Ouattara, who won the election. Over the next several months the conflict became increasingly violent and culminated with a weeks-long siege on Gbagbo’s stronghold in the city of Abidjan.

On Monday, Gbagbo was finally captured by military forces, though some violence has continued in the form of reprisal attacks.

According to the Boston Globe, Charles Stith, director of the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at BU, which sponsors fellowships for African leaders, declined to confirm whether former President Gbagbo was offered such a position. The paper also reported that Senator James Inhore, R-Okla., was asked by the State Department to convey the offer to Gbagbo.

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