Ivory Coast (MNN) — Ivory Coast's election dispute between
incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara is slowly turning Ivory Coast's
political crisis into an economic disaster.
Even though U.N.-certified results showed Ouattara won the
November 28 presidential election, Gbagbo has refused to cede power, resulting
Because of the stalemate, foreign investment have stagnated, and
shortages in goods and services are beginning to heat tensions. Crushed hopes for a return to more prosperous
times add fuel to the tinder, and all the scenario needs for total chaos is a
The African Union (AU) created a special panel whose task it
is to come up with a solution to the leadership crisis within a month.
Mark Datson is the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) *
country director and language programs manager for the Ivory Coast. "With this situation unresolved, it was
leading to a lot of social decay in the capital where our main offices are."
Datson goes on to explain that "there were increasing
disturbances in the streets, fearing build-up toward a more serious
confrontation." Two months ago, "We took the decision to come
out of the country for a while to assess the situation."
The team is in Senegal watching the events in Ivory Coast
unfold. We asked him how disruptive
this has been to the projects they've been working on. "It has disrupted the support we'll be able
to give our theology faculty for people doing a Masters in translation," says Datson.
Another facet of the interference comes with the length of
the interruption. "It will be difficult
to plan when we do translation checking" explains Datson. "Often, we have translation consultants
come from outside the country to help us with that, so we won't be able to plan
for them to come in and visit and help teams get their translations checked
However, "Our teams are used to operating independently. They're
trained. They know what they're doing. They can continue with translation or
literacy work with just periodic checkups to see how they're doing."
Datson adds, "We are monitoring the situation. There is still a
possibility that there is some kind of military intervention to resolve the
situation. So until we feel that possibility is much less, we won't be hurrying
What can be done? Stand in solidarity with their team. Specifically, Datson says, "Pray
for our Ivorian colleagues in Abidjan; it is a stressful situation. Not only is
violence on the increase, but prices are going up for a lot of basic things,
which makes life hard. They are forecasting shortages in fuel, too. Pray for our
translation teams, some of whom have had to move location to continue working."
*SIL International is a partner with Wycliffe Bible
Translators. They help with literacy,
community development, and education projects. The common denominator of those places where
SIL personnel work is that the language in focus is of a marginalized and often
lesser-known people, whether spoken by a few hundred or several million.