CongressHouse FloorSenate Floor • U.S. Capitol: 202-224-3121

April 13, 2011

Sub-Saharan Africa

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Mr. INHOFE. Madam President, I am going to be very offensive right now to a lot of people, certainly to the Ouattara group, the rebels taking over in Cote d'Ivoire. I am going to be offensive to the United Nations. I am going to be offensive to the French and to our own State Department.

This little girl is named Zegita Marie Rapert. Zegita is an Ethiopian name. It means God's grace. This little girl we found. She is only 2 days old. I happened to be in Ethiopia. She was an orphan. And my daughter Molly--in fact, I should hold this up. These are my 20 kids and grandkids. My daughter Molly had nothing but boys. So she adopted Zegita Marie. She came up to me the other day, that little girl--she was 2 days old when we first saw her. She is now 10 years old. She reads at a college level. She is a brilliant little girl. She came up to me the other day and Pappi--let me explain that. I is for Inhofe. That is me. So it is Momma and Pappi. She said: Pappi, why do you things nobody else would do. I said: That is why I do it.

Zegita Marie got her answer, and that is the reason I am talking today. I happen to be familiar with Africa. I have been for quite some time. I am on the Senate Armed Services Committee. I think they consider me the point man for Africa. We started working with Africa back at 9/11. At 9/11 we made a decision that while the squeeze in terrorism in the Middle East is going down through Djibouti and the Horn of Africa, we need to help the Africans build African brigades, supply them, help send their officers to the United States to train. It was a good program. I sometimes kind of joked around by saying, since I was the only member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who knew where Africa was, I took it on.

Anyway, I do have a background in Africa. For that reason, I am going to speak for the fifth time on the crisis. Cote d'Ivoire is a West African country. We have been reading about it. It is sub-Sahara Africa. Nobody cares about sub-Sahara Africa. They do care about Libya but not sub-Sahara Africa. Anyway, the news is reporting that President Gbagbo and his wife Simone were captured yesterday by the French military forces acting with the rebel forces of Alassane Ouattara. There is a videotape of both the President and First Lady in custody. According to the BBC and Reuters, after the U.N. and the French helicopters repeatedly attacked the Presidential palace, French special forces stormed the building with up to 20 French tanks and armored vehicles. They took them both from the Presidential palace to the Golf Hotel, killing untold hundreds or thousands of people.

This right here is a picture that was taken. This is a helicopter, a United Nations helicopter. It was encouraged to be used by the French. The French said: We authorize you. We are going to send our troops in there with you. We are going to do whatever they are doing. This is the capital of Cote d'Ivoire, where they are hitting targets. That is an area where they have a lot of their ordinance. I have been there. I have seen it. They are all scattered. You have little huts with galvanized steel roofs over them with countless, hundreds and hundreds of people.

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They are all dead. They have to be. They can't live. There it is. That is a picture of it. To give you an idea of what is happening, there it is. They were peppering the entire town.

I don't know why. Here I am a Member of the Senate, and I can't get even our State Department to look into how many people they murdered that night. That was Monday night. A week ago tonight is when that happened. We don't know. But they were murdered. I am thankful that both the President and the First Lady are still alive, but they have been brutally mutilated. I condemn, however, the use of so-called peacekeeping forces, made up of United Nations and French forces, in the attacks on Abidjan and the Presidential palace. These forces have caused countless deaths in the densely populated city of Abidjan, a city of 4 million people. I hope every President of sub-Sahara Africa is watching right now. What happened there could happen to any country in sub-Sahara Africa.

Africa has 52 countries. I think 41 of those are sub-Sahara Africa. The multiple firings of United Nations and French missiles into downtown Abidjan are like firing missiles into downtown New York City. You don't know how many people are dead and won't know for a long time. Who knows how many hundreds if not thousands of innocent people were killed as a result of the U.N. and the French bombing a week ago tonight. This is not peacekeeping. This is war making. This is not the role of the United Nations. I question why the French are participating in this battle.

The African Union has also condemned this foreign military intervention. Why don't we listen to Africa. Africa for many years was used. They were abused. They were abused by colonialism. Certainly no one was worse or more offensive than the French. But they don't listen to Africa.

I called up a good friend, President Museveni of Uganda, and asked him what he thought. He had the courage to put something down in writing which I will read. This is from President Museveni, an east African country, not West Africa like Cote d'Ivoire.

He said:

I have not been happy with the way the United Nations and International Community, especially the French, have responded to the events of the post election Ivory Coast. I desired that it would have been ideal for a thorough Investigation into the alleged election rigging and it be done by a credible and independent body under the African Union leadership and guidance instead of violently forcing the Laurent Gbagbo out of power without a hearing. I am not pleased with the way the international community can sanction a situation of blood bath in the domestic affairs of African Countries.

I am halfway through reading what he said here. Why aren't we listening to Africans. He is not the only one. I think every African President would agree with what I am reading right now.

He went on to say:

I would prefer a peaceful intervention by an African Union committee that would investigate into the matter, give the parties a fair hearing and come out with a workable recommendation that can promote peace and stability in the region. The recommendation would include the possibility of a peaceful and conciliatory settlement toward a power-sharing deal as was done in the case of Kenya and Zimbabwe.

We all know about that.

At this point, I believe he would be happy to have a team of capable African leaders chosen under the auspices of the African Union to work on a peaceful end to the conflict in the Ivory Coast. I believe that the African Union must be given the opportunity to handle the matter in-house. I am of course not pleased with the way the U.N. and International Community has directly thrown their weight in support of Alassane Ouattara and now recognizing him as president.

This is the from the President of Uganda. I have talked personally to many other presidents. I could be quoting all of them right now, but essentially that is a statement to which they all agree.

I have been informed that this reflects the current sentiment of the African Union too, actually including the current AU Chairman Obiang, who condemned the foreign military intervention in Cote d'Ivoire saying that ``Africa does not need external influence. Africa must manage its own affairs.''

That is what the Africans said. That is President Obiang. President Obiang is the President of the African Union.

The Kenyan Prime Minister Odinga, who happens to be here, and I will be meeting with him in a few minutes, was quoted yesterday as saying President Gbagbo:

has been captured and I say that he should not be hurt. I have actually already sent word to Mr. Ouattara saying that Gbagbo should not be hurt. If he wants to go out into exile he should be allowed to go into exile but he needs to be treated humanely.

That is all I am asking our State Department and the United Nations to do. And they won't do it.

I have warned the U.N. and the French on the floor four times in the past week that they would have blood on their hands if they continued supporting the rebel forces of Alassane Ouattara and continued the bombing of the capital of Cote d'Ivoire, Abidjan and did not agree to an immediate cease-fire.

That is what has happened over the last the week, 10 days. I said on April 4--I am quoting myself now. On the floor, standing right here at this podium I said:

I think we can avert a real tragedy, something maybe comparable to what happened in 1994 in Rwanda with that genocide.

We all remember that. We also remember that we were warned--we weren't warned but the United Nations was, the Secretary General, we now know, was warned that the genocide was going to take place in 1994 in Rwanda, where 800,000 people were hacked to death with machetes. The world stood idly by. That is sub-Sahara Africa. Nobody cared.

I called for a cease-fire in Abidjan. No one responded. This was 8 days ago.

I wonder sometimes why is it nobody cares about sub-Sahara Africa. I remember back in 1998, when, under President Clinton, they were going to send troops into Kosovo and the excuse they were using at that time was ethnic cleansing. I said on this Senate floor, why is it we are all concerned about ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. For every one person in Kosovo who has been ethnically cleansed on a given day, 100 in any one country in sub-Sahara Africa have. But nobody cares about sub-Sahara Africa. Why is there no outcry for these millions of people who are being brutally murdered in other places in the world?

I have to say this--and I know I am repeating what I said in 1998 on the floor--and I know it is very unpopular, but I will quote a guy whose name is Roger Wilkens, professor of history and American culture at George Mason University. He said:

I think it is pretty clear U.S. foreign policy is geared to the European American sensibility which takes the lives of white people much more seriously than the lives of people who are not white.

What is he saying there? I think I know what he is saying.

But no one mobilized on behalf of perhaps 500 people who were shot, hacked and burned to death in a village in eastern Congo, in central Africa, around the same time. No outrage was expressed on behalf of many other innocents who had the misfortune to be slain. .....

I read this because I knew this was going to happen. It was only 5 days ago when I warned this was going to happen. So anyway, on April 5, I said Ouattara has tried to deny his involvement in the slaughter of up to 1,000 innocent people. This was on April 5, a little over 1 week ago. There it is, folks, as shown in this picture. That town is called Duekoue. It is in Cote d'Ivoire. It is a small community: the western town of Duekoue. His forces took the town earlier last week after the Gbagbo forces had gone. They were already gone--they had to be--the Gbagbo forces. We know now these people were shot, macheted, and burned to death by the Ouattara forces.

You may remember me quoting on the floor just a few days ago a BBC report back last week that quoted a BBC reporter, Andrew Harding, who said of the Duekoue massacre--this is it now, folks, just a little over 1 week ago--he said:

I spot four pigs eating something dark in a charred courtyard. Standing by a newly dug mass grave, a UN soldier from Morocco is choking with rage and grief. I ask him if any of the dead [that the hogs are eating] are children. He nods and begins to sob, quietly, into his facemask.

I pointed out that the Guardian, a British newspaper, quoted the U.N. mission which said that ``traditional hunters, known as Dozos, fought alongside Ouattara's forces and took part in killing 330 people in the western town of Duekoue, and that Guillaume Ngefa,

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deputy head of the human rights division of the UN mission in Ivory Coast, blamed at least 220 of the deaths on pro-Ouattara forces.''

I repeat, this massacre was not caused by Gbagbo forces but by Ouattara forces that had taken the town. The Gbagbo forces had left 1 week earlier. There they are. Look at them: mutilated bodies, chewed up, burned. That was in Duekoue, a very small community in the western part of Cote d'Ivoire.

I repeat, this massacre was not caused by Gbagbo forces. I think we all know that. I, again, called--this was last week--for a cease-fire, and no one responded. That was just 1 week ago.

On April 7 and 8, I pointed out that the United Nations and the French were bombing downtown Abidjan, near the Presidential palace, where hundreds of young supporters of President Gbagbo had circled the Presidential palace making a human shield from the bombing. This is what they did--all these kids. All they had were baseball bats and 2 by 4s in a circle surrounding the palace to protect their President, President Gbagbo, and his family of about 17 who were there and his wife Simone.

You saw, 1 minute ago, in this one picture right here, that--do you think there is anything left of those kids who were surrounding the palace? No. They were all mowed down.

That was on the 7th and the 8th. Who knows how many of them were killed. I cannot imagine any of them lived through it.

I also pointed out, on April 8, there were roving death squads--there they are right there, folks; they are Ouattara people--roving deaths squads who are disappearing--this is the word they use: ``disappearing''--supporters of President Gbagbo. That means they are killing them.

I called again for an immediate cease-fire, and no one responded, not our State Department, not the United Nations, certainly not the French.

I also pointed out that I believe massive vote fraud occurred in the November 28, 2010, Cote d'Ivoire Presidential election between President Gbagbo and the rebel leader, Alassane Ouattara, from up north. That is the Muslim part of Cote d'Ivoire.

I submitted evidence in two letters to the State Department that showed that massive voter fraud allowed Ouattara to steal the election. In one instance, it showed that in the first round--here we would call this a primary and then a primary runoff. In the first round, in one of the five districts in the north, they miscounted, they tabulated them, and just added 95,000 additional votes. I documented all this. If we had 95,000 additional votes in each one of the five northern districts, then clearly President Gbagbo won reelection.

In another case, if you look at what they had in what we call primaries, in the first round President Gbagbo got thousands of votes--thousands of votes--in the northern five districts. When they did the runoff, he got zero--zero--votes. That is a statistical impossibility.

What did our State Department do? Nothing. I did not receive--I finally received a response to my two letters saying they think this is all fraudulent. They have not changed their minds. This is Sub-Saharan Africa. Do they truly care? I can only conclude that our State Department is engaging in a whitewash of any credible investigation into my allegations.

So I call again on the U.N., French, and Ouattara forces to halt all the violence, including that being done against President Gbagbo and the First Lady. They will be held responsible if any more harm comes to them. I call for an independent investigation--this is what the Africans want--into all the atrocities committed by all military forces involved in the fighting in Cote d'Ivoire. I call on the U.N., French, and Ouattara forces to halt immediately the death squads roving around the streets of Abidjan ``disappearing'' supporters of President Gbagbo.

I had a call from one friend down there whom I certainly would not identify. They would murder him overnight. He was talking about how he could not go out. He could see bodies, corpses in the street. This was 2 days ago. They could not go out there because they had snipers and they would mow them down.

They are led by soldiers of Ouattara's rebel army, supported by the French and the United Nations, and have already killed more than 400 people, in addition to, perhaps, the thousands killed in the bombing we have already looked at.

Right now, I have several friends who give me these reports. They are saying: Isn't there anything you can do now--just, if they go in now, after they have killed all these people? I call upon, again, the United Nations, the French--which I know are not going to do it--and certainly the Ouattara rebels and our State Department to go in and stop it. We could do it in no time at all.

There is all this concern about Libya and all these things going on. This is just as bad, but nobody cares. Keep in mind, this is Sub-Saharan Africa.

So the streets are filled with the stench of rotting bodies.

I renew my call for hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee into the bombings and killings by the U.N., the French and the Ouattara rebels and the strong evidence of massive voter fraud in the November Presidential election.

I appreciate chairman John Kerry's willingness to hold such hearings, and I look forward to setting a date--the sooner the better.

I have talked to the chairman of the subcommittee--that is Chairman Coons and Ranking Member Isakson--and they have agreed to have these hearings.

I am anxious to get into this so all the world can see it. Maybe we can stop this from happening again. I do not know.

I also suggest that the United States step in to help and examine the possibility of seeking a place of exile for the Gbagbos outside of Cote d'Ivoire. The United States has performed such a role before when, in 1986, under the Reagan administration, Haiti's ``Baby Doc'' Duvalier was sent into exile in France. So it has happened before. There is nothing wrong. The American Government did this before. I am asking them to do it again: take these people, who are being maybe murdered at this moment--we don't know; we

know they are being tortured--and allow them to go into exile.

This could be an important step toward beginning a process of reconciliation that the people of Cote d'Ivoire so dearly deserve. This is not about the Gbagbos. It is about the modern day return to French colonial imperialism, and this time, with the help of the United Nations, they were doing this.

Here is what my concern is: Cote d'Ivoire has had a hard enough time trying to break free from the yoke of French colonialism. From the days of President Houphouet-Boigny in 1960 through Bedie in 2000--then Gbagbo was elected in the year 2000--up to that time, the French had actually owned all the Presidents. They were all right there with France.

All you have to do is go through the streets of Abidjan--what streets might be left now; I doubt there are many--and you will see that is happening. It is not just the Gbagbos. Any President on the African Continent in Sub-Saharan Africa should know this could just as well happen to them and their Ministers and their friends. That is what is happening right now.

I am going to show you something that I hesitated doing, but this is the happy face of President Gbagbo, as shown in this picture. This is the face I know. This is the President who has been President since 2000. He has gone through a lot of these same problems, but he stood up against the French and against the Ouattara in the north. Now he has been captured, and I will show you what he looks like today. This is 3 days ago.

This is today. His face is beat in from the side. He is there. He is being held on this side by someone while they are mashing his face.

Then there is Simone, his wife. I happen to know her very well. I will now show you a picture of her.

In my State of Oklahoma, we had--he is not there anymore--a great Congressman named J.C. Watts. He is an African American. I just talked to him today. He was at a hearing I testified in today. J.C. Watts is an African American who served in the House.

When Simone came over one time--this is Simone Gbagbos--she said: Would you try to let me get introduced to J.C. Watts, Congressman Watts. I

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said: Yes, I would be glad to do it. I did not know why. I went over and took her to the House of Representatives. We are in the Senate. That was in the House. He was in a hearing. He came out, and I said: I want to introduce you to someone who is the First Lady of Cote d'Ivoire. She then put her arms around him and started crying. He did not know why she was crying. She said to him: Will you forgive us? J.C. Watts said: Forgive you for what? She said: Because we are the ones who sold your brothers into slavery.

In the United States of America, people walk around guilty--and they should be--about the slavery we had. But in Africa, and particularly Sub-Saharan Africa and west Africa, where most of the slave trade came from, such as Cote d'Ivoire, they realize they are the ones who sold their brothers into slavery. Here is Simone begging J.C. Watts to forgive her for selling them into slavery.

She was an elected member of Parliament from her district. She was leading the way for developing a center to care for orphans in her district. At the national level, Simone Gbagbo, the First Lady, worked to have a nationwide program for women to get their products to market. No name for that program is yet found, but that is what the program is. On a continental level, she was the head of the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS, a forum created to establish a role for African First Ladies in dealing with the HIV needs of women and children. That is who Simone is. Isn't she pretty? That was 1 week ago.

Let's see what she looks like today. You cannot see it now. They have held her and pulled her hair out by the roots. They went out into the streets and said: This is the hair of Simone Gbagbos. I don't know what else they did to her. Use your own imagination--brutally murdered.

Who are these people? They are the Ouattara forces. Do you think we made that up? Here is another picture. There they are. All of these are identified leaders of the Ouattara forces holding her. See what that they are doing to her, beating her and pulling her hair out. That is what is happening today.

So I only will say--I will conclude with this--our State Department has to wake up. You cannot assume the United Nations is doing something that is right. We have to understand there is this half of a continent called Sub-Saharan Africa, and those people--their lives are worth just as much as they are worth in Kosovo or Bosnia or the United States or any of the other places we go and try to save lives.

Again, I would say to any of our friends and any of the Presidents of any of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, what has happened right there could very well happen to the Presidents or First Ladies of your countries.

I only ask three things. No. 1, stop this. Stop the firing that is going on right now. People are being murdered as we speak. Stop it. We can do it. We have the power to do it. Our State Department can ask the United Nations to make it happen in spite of what the French might want.

No. 2, send them into exile. Give them the dignity of living someplace else in Sub-Saharan Africa so these people, so the people of Africa will know--can you imagine what the people of Cote d'Ivoire will be thinking and doing in the near future if they allow this to go unanswered?

That is my appeal to the U.S. State Department, to the United Nations, and to the French.

With that, I yield the floor.

(Senate - April 12, 2011)

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