People's Socialist Union
USP was founded in 1996. The general secretary of USP is Henri Tohou who, on 19 February 1990 initiated and led with few students of the Yopougon University Campus (Abidjan), the first significant Ivorian students' uprising against President's Houphouet Boigny' regime, one of the most brutal French-sponsored dictartorships of Africa. Along with other students, they targeted the MEECI, former national students movement from which the ruling party drew its young supporters,which was later replaced by FESCI-Federation of students and school pupils, founded in April 1990 under the leadership of Henri Tohou, Martial Ahipeaud, Azowa Beugre Amos, and Ahononga Gregoire. Following continuous unrest initiated by students of the Yopougon Campus where Tohou was living and brutal repressions from the military, specially the elite military force of the Ivory Coast, the rapid intervention force of para-commandos led by the then-Commander Faizan, Bi Sehi, Tohou, and hundreds of students fled the university campus and sought sanctuary in the cathedral Saint Paul of Plateaux-administrative center of Abidjan. They were surrounded by troops and after hours of negotiations, force was used by the military and students were taken to various military barracks where they were subjected to torture and other inhuman and degrading treatments. However Tohou and two other escaped from the cathedral St Paul and went back to their University Campus from where, with the support of dozens of students, they went from secondary to primary schools to seek pupils' support in an attempt to transform their action into a national uprising. By midday, The city of Abidjan was full of smoke. Pupils' burning cars tires and chanting for the first time, Houphouet Voleur. Tohou and few students moved to other cities of the country and the armed forces lost control of the situation. For the first time, the leader, Houphouet Boigny, of the 30 year-old dictatorship declared that the country could accept any kind of change provided that it was done in peace and order. Opposition parties created on papers but not allowed to operate openly used that opportunity to submit their application to the ministry of interior to have their party recognised as opposition parties. The country returned to multipartyism after 30 years of single party with a single radio station, TV station, and state newspaper. Henri Tohou became the national organization secretary of FESCI (Students movement) and became later Deputy Secretary of Finance as he also had other national responsibilities as National President of Youth of the Ivorian Socialist Party (PSI) which later became the PPS (Party for Progress and Socialism) and also a freelance journalist for the Cote d'Ivoire Nouvelle.Partly educated in the faculty of law in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Henri Tohou is a Human Rights lawyer educated at London Metropolitan University in the department of Law, Governance and International relations. He holds a specialist Master degree (LLM) in Human Rights law.Passionate of political philosophy, he has done a remarkable coursework on the value of marxist understanding of law today. His final dissertation in which he has done very well was titled: French military operations in Ivory Coast: the challenge of France's accountability for human rights violations under the legal space doctrine.In this work, Mr Tohou underlines that the European convention on Human rights was designed to be applied in Member states, in Europe. However when military force from a high contracting party is involved in serious human rights violations such as the case of November 2004 in Abidjan where French troops opened fire on civilian protesters including children and women,no matter the origin of their mandate, appropriate legal mechanisms have to be found for the extra-territorial application of the European Convention, and Mr Tohou indicated the way forward. Although strongly opposed to president Gbagbo's management of the ongoing crisis, his dissertation was dedicated to President Gbagbo and the Ivorian First lady who both suffered the shock and the pain of witnessing the massacre of ivorians,including children and women, on their own soil by French troops. It was also dedicated to his wife Armelle for her support and courage during four years of threats and abuse from the ivorian extremists who wanted a full scale war against the rebels, when from london,I was strongly advocating negotiations and peaceful settlement of the ivorian crisis... Finally, the work was dedicated to the memory of all, brothers and sisters,ivorians or not who died in this conflict, in particular, the WE and Dan people, who suffered an unprecedented cruelty including torture,rape, gang rapes, humiliation, destitution, murder and what UN should reasonably call genocide of the We people, in once a peaceful and prosperous region of Ivory Coast, now called Wild West by western medias.Henri Tohou was working towards a PHD in international Human Rights Law on the weakness of the international covenant on economic, social, and cultural rights(1966) and its negative impact on the judiciary (Fair trial) in poor african countries.
Present state of affairs
Since May 1996, Tohou and others have created a new political party (USP) which they also call "The People's Socialist Party". The party has been campaigning about the risk of a civil war in the Ivory Coast, but few Western countries paid attention to their warning. When the civil war started in Ivory Coast, The USP has campaigned against the policy of a full scale war supported by the government and they proposed a political and peaceful settlement. Henri Tohou is in exile in London since 1994 and is currently working hard with members of USP worldwide to stand as the youngest candidate for the next presidential elections in Ivory Coast. The USP believes that the old politicians of Ivory Coast who brought war to their country must be replaced by a new generation of politicians not involved in the atrocities suffered by the Ivorian people. Tohou may probably have a positive impact on the Ivorian people by trying to reunite Ivorian youth, some in various government sponsored militias and other within the rebel forces, particularly as most of them were members of the students movement Fesci founded by Tohou and others. It may be possible that the Ivorian youth and ordinary people reject the old leaders who divided them and created war in the country by voting a young man who was at the forefront of Ivorian multypartyism and who has been fighting peacefully for years from abroad for a new Ivorian society. The major difficulty the USP may be facing during the next election would probably be the lack of financial power in a war-torn country where people are now living in a state of serious poverty as a result of 3 years of civil war while the other old politicians standing for the elections include two former heads of state; one a former Prime Minister; all rich enough to use their financial power during those elections.
The people's socialist party has increased and strengthened its branches throughout Ivory Coast including the north and west of Ivory Coast currently under rebels control. The party held its convention in london between 23,24 and 25th July 2009 during which Henri Tohou previously Secretary general of the party has been elected President and given the power to stand for the presidential elections in Ivory Coast. A new secretary General has been appointed and he has now travelled to Abidjan to plan the campaign with local USP leaders.A world shaking campaign website of Mr Tohou is currently under construction. Henri Tohou believes that without the rise of a new breed of politicians in Ivory Coast, there can be no peace, no stability, no democracy and no development.In his 45mn convention speech at Novotel City south London on the 25th July 2009,Tohou made it clear that Ivory Coast needs a fresh leadership not involved in the country's ongoing tragedy. He reminds participants that more than 60% of the population are young people or people from his age range who would be pleased to see their country free from politicians who brought ethnic,religious hatred and civil war home. He also indicates that the current leadership has spent decades betraying ivorians, and today ivorians have learnt how to betray them by simply buying membership cards and paty's gadgets for all 3 main parties.As an example he said when President Gbagbo go for a tour in a region, he would find 15,000 people declaring allegiance to his party. The next day when his opponent set feet in the same area, he would have 15,000 people ready to elect him president of Ivory Coast. Few days after,when the third leader travelled to the same region, again 15,000 people declare their membership to his party while the size of the population in that region is just 15,000.The 3 main leaders of Ivory Coast do not realize that the same people are wearing different party uniform. They wear FPI uniform when President Gbagbo visits their region and RDR uniform when it comes to Mr ouattara and PDCI uniform in the case of former President Konan Bedie. The truth is, said Mr Tohou, Ivorians are just organising themselves to get millions of money the 3 leaders have while the ivorian people are starving. In his final words, Mr Tohou pointed out that the Ivorian presidential elections would be marked by unprecedented surprises and we are working silently to bring those surprises home for the country. The European campaign team will be operational in few days. On the 16th October 2009, the last day for submission of applications to the national electoral commission for candidates who want to run for the presidency of Ivory Coast, Henri Tohou's application was submitted to the electoral commission by his legal team and his spouse who travelled from Britain to Ivory Coast. An electoral deposit of approximately £ 30,000 was paid to the ivorian national treasury.