After Shootings, Does Pat Robertson Still Support Recalcitrant Ivory Coast Leader?
Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL
Back in January, we detailed how Pat Robertson used a segment of his 700 Club to defend Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo's efforts to remain in office in the face of near-unanimous international opinion that Gbagbo lost his election and should give up his post. Robertson said it's "not true" that Gbagbo is an "evil thug," adding, "He's a Christian, he's a nice person, and he's run a fairly clean operation in the Ivory Coast."
Robertson might want to reconsider his support of Gbagbo given a very ugly event this past weekend:
A video posted online documents in chilling, graphic detail the transformation Thursday of a peaceful demonstration in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan to a slaughter by what appear to be forces loyal to self-proclaimed President Laurent Gbabgo.
U.S. officials said Friday that the attack left seven women dead, but Gbagbo rival Alassane Ouattara put the death toll at 12, including a child, with another 110 people wounded.
The video, about eight minutes, is posted on YouTube. In it, hundreds of people, most of them women dressed in brightly colored garb, are seen smiling, chanting, playing horns, blowing whistles and dancing. Many of them are carrying signs with slogans written in French that refer to Gbagbo as "assassin" and "robber of power." One of them holds a poster declaring Gbagbo's rival, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, as president. None of them appears to be carrying a weapon.
Dark clouds hang low.
But the chanting soon stops, replaced by an eerie quiet, as the hand-held camera turns away from the crowd and focuses on the approach of a convoy of three camouflage-painted armored vehicles, one of them bearing the word "Police."
Without any apparent warning, a volley of three bursts from a heavy-caliber gun pierces the quiet, followed by screams as the marchers, including whoever is holding the camera, run from the street, leaving behind pavement littered with flip-flops, clothing and tote bags.
Robertson's CBN News website, meanwhile, has been silent about this shooting. In fact, a search of CBN's website indicates that it has reported nothing at all about the Ivory Coast since January, when a blog post by CBN's Charles Lane defended the Gbagbo-controlled "constitutional council" that overturned election results to name Gbagbo the winner over Ouattara. Lane also conducted a fawning interview with Gbagbo in January that included such softball questions as, "It seems like you're very calm, you're not nervous, you aren't worried. What's the source of your strength?"
Meanwhile, the situation in the Ivory Coast continues to deteriorate. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced within the country, tens of thousands have fled to other countries as refugees, and the United Nations has authorized an increase in peacekeeping forces there.
In the aftermath of these shootings and the escalating unrest, does Robertson still think Gbagbo is a "Christian" and a "nice person" whose "operation" is "fairly clean"? It's time for him and CBN to break their silence.