"The Ivorian crisis revealed to me that Africans underestimate themselves and do not have confidence in themselves. Time has come for Africans to have confidence in themselves, to take their destiny into their own hands. Time has come for Africans to have partners and not masters," says President Laurent Gbagbo. Our correspondent, Ruth Tete, interviewed him in Abidjan.
Ruth Tete: Five years have elapsed and there is no solution to the Ivorian crisis. Why has this situation persisted despite several international and regional meetings on Cote d'Ivoire?
President Gbagbo: I don't think that it is through international meetings that a solution to the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire will be found. The international community may assist us but in the end, it is we, Ivorians ourselves, who will come up with solutions. But as long as a section of Ivorians think that they can derive benefits from the current crisis, then finding a lasting peace is going to be difficult.
Ruth: Does the international community have a clear understanding of the causes of the Ivorian crisis?
Gbagbo: No. It is because of an erroneous understanding of the causes of the crisis that the international community has not been able to help resolve the impasse. The crisis was initially presented internationally as a crisis of identity in which certain ethnic groups were marginalised. I don't believe that this was the cause of the crisis. Cote d'Ivoire has several ethnic groups who have lived in harmony for years. Those who engineered a coup d'etat here [on Christmas Eve 1999] in the hope of gaining power thought a solution to this crisis would give them that power. I respected all the proposals made by the international community and I made changes to the laws dealing with nationality. But the real problem was created by the coup and we must discourage Africans from resorting to coups.
Ruth: The Marcoussis Agreement, signed in France, in January 2003, recommends a government in which all the political parties, including the rebels, are represented. But how was such a government expected to function efficiently, especially when all the key posts were given to the rebels?
Gbagbo: That question has the response within itself, how can such a government be expected to function efficiently? A head of state governs with his own government. When his government is attacked, you then ask those who attacked him to participate in his government. And you...