WASHINGTON — A gray limousine pulled up, and the mob lurched forward. Daouda Diabaté stepped out, and the drums sounded. Hugs and handshakes followed, until he took his seat on a couch bisecting Ivorian and American flags.
Diabaté, the Ivory Coast’s newest ambassador to the United States, received a sometimes raucous reception at his embassy from about 300 U.S.-based Ivorians from all as far away as Miami on Wednesday, who were there to celebrate a transition of power far more simple than the bitter political fight happening in the west African nation.
The embassy’s main lobby was packed, with little boys in matching suits, women in dresses, and many people in jeans. There was also a drum group near the flag at the entrance, with two men dancing in traditional garb.
American members of the RHDP, Ouattara’s political party back home, helped organize the celebration, but Diabaté told them “to make sure that we invited everybody,” said Moussa Moses Diomandé, RHDP spokesman.
Except, of course, those who don’t recognize him as ambassador. Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo claims he won the election — and some of Diabaté’s employees agree.
The rally was once expected to be a much more confrontational affair. But former ambassador Charles Koffi — a Gbagbo supporter — stepped down on Feb. 9, the day after Diabaté arrived.
Koffi sent Diabaté the keys to the embassy a couple of days later.
- Previous coverage: An ambassador takes office without a government back home