President Alassane Ouattara.

Position:Presidents Speak - Interview

With a new peace finally taking root in Cote d'Ivoire, President Alassane Ouattara (pictured, right) speaks to New African's Celhia de Lavarene and discusses a variety of issues, including that lingering issue of the lack of Alrican representation on the all-powerful UN Security Council. his ambition for a second term, and why the International Criminal Court (ICC)--the indictor of his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo on charges of crimes against humanity relating to the 2010 election--humiliates Africa in some circumstances.

Q| Mr President, do you feel that Africa can speak with a voice that resonates globally and is not only listened to, but understood?

Yes. Absolutely. Major change is happening in Africa. As the African Union, not only do we make decisions which concern the entire continent, but with 54 countries represented, we also carry a lot of weight within the United Nations. This represents more than a quarter of the UN Member States. The fundamental issue, however, is to gain a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, which we do not have. This is wrong and unacceptable. The Security Council--with its permanent members--was created after the Second World War. The countries which sit on the Security Council are certainly entitled to do so, but Africa, with its 54 countries, cannot and should not be excluded, no more than the Middle East and countries such as Germany and Japan. The Council needs to be reformed so our views are given more consideration. We are determined to have a joint position on all these key issues. Africa's voice needs to be heard.

Q|The African continent often calls on foreign troops to resolve its conflicts. Isn't it time for Africa to take charge and resolve its own problems without relying on the help of others?

You are absolutely right. This is what we want and what we are currently working on. But do not forget that we have cooperation agreements with some large countries. I presume you are referring to the case of Mali, where France intervened because it possesses equipment that we lack. I would like to point out, though, that ECOWAS had already set up its reaction force, so that we would be ready to move against the Jihadists as soon as necessary. That said, most countries, with the exception of Nigeria, lack a sophisticated air force. Once we have the means, we would obviously prefer to intervene ourselves. These are African problems which must be resolved by Africans.

Q| Does France still...

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