The Conflict in Ivory Coast A relatively short summary of the political development in the country is as follows, to serve as a backdrop for the Ivorian conflict. 1.1 IVORIAN MIGRATION 1.1.1 Migration during the colonial period and after independence
During the French colonisation, economic development in the southern part of the country led to two main migrations: 1. Urbanisation and rapid population growth in Abidjan, which was fed by extensive migration from the whole country (as well as neighbouring countries – especially Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea). Thus, Abidjan has grown from a tiny village to a city of more than three million in less than a century. 2. Expansion of agriculture in the south-western part of Côte d’Ivoire led to the movement of large numbers of farmers from the north and south-eastern regions (as well as the neighbouring countries mentioned above – especially Burkina Faso). The migrants going to Abidjan mainly worked in commerce, transport, industry and as artisans, whereas the migrants moving to the southwest mainly worked in agriculture – either as farmers or working on plantations. The migration to Côte d’Ivoire from other French colonies was encouraged by the French authorities, and this policy was continued by president Houphouët-Boigny after independence. The migration from outside Côte d’Ivoire has been quite a lot, and roughly a quarter of the population of Côte d’Ivoire are people with origin in neighbouring countries. This generally was not a problem until the end of the 1980s. 1.2 FROM INDEPENDENCE IN 1960 UNTIL THE MID 1980S
From the 1960s until the mid 1980s, the southern regions of Côte d’Ivoire experienced phenomenal economic growth in the agricultural sector – especially in the cultivation of cocoa, coffee, pineapple, coconuts and palm oil. This led many to call Côte d’Ivoire “Africa’s economic miracle”, and the income generated by the agricultural sector led to large scale investments in infrastructure and urban development – especially of Abidjan, the largest city in Côte d’Ivoire. 2.1 FROM THE MID-1980S UNTIL THE LATE 1990S 2.1.1 Crisis in the world market for agricultural produce
Through the 1980s, the market for the agricultural goods exported from Côte d’Ivoire gradually had more competition, as more and more countries expanded their production of the same goods – especially cocoa and coffee. Côte d’Ivoire also increased its production of these goods, which lead to world market prices collapsing. The country faced a steadily decreasing national income. By 1987 the country was almost bankrupt and a financial crisis unavoidable – with the problems in the agricultural sector affecting the entire society. This financial crisis worsened conditions, leading to cultural and ethnic tensions.
2.2 Houphou毛t-Boigny dies
The economic situation continued to worsen through the 1990s, with students, civil servants and soldiers protesting on different occasions because of less money and increasing prices of goods. President Houphou毛t-Boigny, who was a powerful and influential charismatic leader who kept the country at peace, died in December 1993, and this lead to a competition for power.
2.3 Trigger for the conflict
The trigger for the conflict was the law quickly drafted by the government immediately before the elections of 2000 which required both parents of a presidential candidate to be born within C么te d'Ivoire. This excluded the northern presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara from the race. Ouattara represented the predominantly Muslim north, particularly the poor immigrant workers from Mali and Burkina Faso working on coffee and cocoa plantations.
3.1 Civil War
In the early hours of September 19, 2002 troops, many of whom originated from the north of the country, rebelled. They launched attacks in many cities, including Abidjan. By midday they had control of the north of the country. Their principal claim related to the definition of who is a citizen of Ivory Coast (and so who can stand for election as President), voting rights and their representation in government in Abidjan.
3.2 End of the Civil War? Although most of the fighting ended by late 2004, the country remains split in two, with a rebel-held north and a government-held south. However, notably, the C么te d'Ivoire national football team was credited with helping to secure a temporary truce when it qualified for the 2006 World Cup and brought warring parties together. A peace agreement to end the conflict was signed in March 2007, which could lead to the holding of elections and the reunification of the country.
Q&A: Ivory Coast's crisis Ivory Coast, previously West Africa's richest country, has been divided between north and south between rebels and the national army - since September 2002. The two sides have agreed a peace deal leading to elections but many obstacles remain before the country can be reunited. What was the conflict about? The rebel New Forces accuse successive governments of discriminating against northern Muslims and those of foreign origin. It was difficult for those with foreign roots to acquire nationality and own land, while candidates in presidential elections had to show that both their parents were Ivorian nationals. Rebels tried to overthrow President Laurent Gbagbo in September 2002, they took the Muslim north but French troops stopped them from reaching the main city, Abidjan. Since then the situation has generally been a stand-off, rather than outright conflict. Are there a lot of foreigners in Ivory Coast? Ivory Coast, as the world's largest producer of cocoa, used to be West Africa's richest country. It was a magnet for millions of immigrants from poorer neighbours, especially Burkina Faso and Mali, who worked in the cocoa fields. But in the 1990s, the economy started to go downhill and Ivorians began to resent such a large foreign presence, which accounted for up to a third of the population. It was then that former President Henri Konan Bedie introduced the concept of "Ivoirite", or Ivorianness. This prevented opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, a former prime minister, from contesting presidential elections, on the grounds that his family originally came from Burkina Faso. Many northern Muslims have family ties across the borders and saw this as a sign of their marginalisation. What does the latest peace accord involve? In the deal, reached in Burkina Faso on 4 March 2007 after four weeks of talks, the government and the New Forces agreed to form a new power-sharing government within five weeks. It is not clear who will be prime minister. They also set a timetable for disarmament and agreed to establish a joint army command. The buffer zone between the two sides - known as the confidence zone - is to be removed. It is currently patrolled by 10,000 French and UN troops.
The deal also paves the way for elections, expected within 10 months. Haven't we heard that before? Yes, the two sides have a history of signing power-sharing agreements that break down amid mutual recrimination. However this time, observers note that the deal was negotiated and signed by the two top leaders, Mr Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro - which gives ground for cautious optimism. What happened to the previous accords? The power-sharing "government of unity" outlined in the January 2003 peace agreement brokered by France never lived up to its name. In protest at the killing of 120 people during a banned opposition march in Abidjan, the New Forces and Mr Ouattara's Rally of the Republicans withdrew in March 2004. A UN report said the security forces had singled out suspected opposition supporters - Muslims and foreigners - to be killed. The boycotters rejoined the government following a new peace agreement reached in July 2004 with West African leaders. Under this deal, new laws making it easier for those of foreign origin to get Ivorian citizenship and run for the presidency were to be introduced by the end of September, with disarmament to follow two weeks later. The laws were eventually passed but the rebels said they had been watered down so much it made no difference, and so they refused to disarm. However, after a South African-brokered deal, Mr Gbagbo agreed to overrule the constitution and let Mr Ouattara contest elections. This has long been a key rebel demand and seemed to move things on. Has there been much fighting? The north-south split has hardly changed since the conflict began in 2002. In November 2004, the army bombed the rebel stronghold of Bouake but also killed nine French peacekeepers. The French retaliated by destroying the Ivorian air force, sparking anti-French riots in Abidjan. What is the French interest? France is the former colonial power and has had a military base in Abidjan since the 1960s. France guarantees the CFA franc and French businesses still dominate the economy. Until anti-French protests led Paris to urge "non-essential" citizens to leave, there were 16,000 French nationals in Ivory Coast. France has 4,000 troops monitoring a buffer zone between the rebel-held north and the loyalist south, along with 6,000 UN peacekeepers.
However, there is widespread anti-French feeling. Anti-French protests have been fomented by state media, which backs the president. The Ivorian army accused French troops of acting like an invading force as they patrolled with tanks in an attempt to impose calm on the city and protect their own citizens. If the buffer zone disappears, as the latest deal specifies, what would foreign troops do? They would leave. The French say they are ready to pull out their forces immediately. Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/3567349.stm Published: 2007/03/05 03:05:48 GMT ÂŠ BBC MMX
World Briefing | Africa Ivory Coast: Cocoa Fueled Civil War By LYDIA POLGREEN Published: June 9, 2007 A report by the anticorruption organization Global Witness found that profits from smuggled and mishandled cocoa had helped pay for the civil war that has split the country for the past five years. It said that at least $118 million from the cocoa trade in Ivory Coast, the worldâ€™s biggest producer, was used by the government, which controlled the south, and the rebels who controlled the north, to fuel the conflict and enrich its leaders. Valuable mineral resources like diamonds, oil and gold have spawned and fueled vast conflicts across Africa for decades, and the research in Ivory Coast demonstrated how a valuable cash crop can play a similar role, Global Witness said.
Ivory Coast's cultural divide By James Copnall BBC correspondent in Abidjan A singing rebel soldier playing the kora, an African harp, in the north of Ivory Coast highlights the deep divisions in what was once West Africa's richest country. Split for nearly two years between the rebel-held north and government-controlled south, Ivory Coast is not only divided along political lines but cultural lines too. A series of laws intended to heal these divisions are being debated throughout July in the national assembly, in particular northern concerns about the right to own land and the issue of nationality. But the serenading rebel guard I saw at a checkpoint near the Mali border seems to drive home the point that the north of Ivory Coast arguably has closer ethnic and cultural links with the countries to its north than it does with southern Ivory Coast. Xenophobia The soldier sang in the fashion of a griot - the oral historian and praise singer found throughout West Africa - whose social role is never more important than in Mali and neighbouring Guinea. He sang softly in Dioula, the main language of the north of Ivory Coast. Dioula hails from the same linguistic family as Bambara, the principal language in Mali, and Malinke, which is widely spoken in north-eastern Guinea. The rebel New Forces movement that took control of the north in September 2002 goal has political objectives, but its composition is also undeniably ethnic. They are largely made up of Dioulas and Senoufos, representatives of the two major ethnic groups in the north, who rallied to the rebel cause because they feel northerners have been discriminated against in Ivorian politics. In the mid 1990s the Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI), which held power from independence in 1960 to 1999, popularised the concept of Ivoirite or Ivorianness. It was an ideology seen by many as xenophobic and those with northern names or origins were frequently accused of not being Ivorian. Infuriated In 2000, the leader of the Rally of Republicans (RDR) party, Alassane Ouattara, a Dioula, was stopped from standing in presidential elections, after doubts were raised about his nationality. It was claimed that both his parents were not Ivorian, ruling him out of being a presidential candidate. RDR supporters were infuriated by that decision, and northerners say they have had many other grounds for complaint in the last 10 years. There have been numerous cases of northerners in Abidjan suffering serious human rights abuses.
The latest case in point was the banned opposition demonstration scheduled for 25 March of this year. A United Nations report claimed at least 120 people were killed in an operation "meticulously planned" by "the highest authorities of state". People were killed over a three-day period, the report said, and often on grounds of ethnic or national origin. Most of those killed were northerners. Sticking point It is just those sorts of abuses that the New Forces say they are fighting against. Two months ago it seemed as if the former rebels might declare the north independent. But New Forces leader Guillaume Soro vetoed the suggestion and insisted Ivory Coast was one and indivisible, a strange statement from a man who had annexed more than half of the country's land. And now many of the New Forces' complaints are being discussed in the National Assembly. All sides of the crisis have agreed to vote in the laws by 28 July at the latest, or there will be an extraordinary session of parliament to finish the job. However, who can stand for president - the famous article 35 of the constitution - appears to be a real sticking point. It is this point of law that stopped Mr Ouattara from running for office in the 2000 presidential elections. President Laurent Gbagbo and his Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party say they will only countenance debate and a referendum on article 35 once the country is reunited. That implies the former rebels disarming, and the state regaining control of the north. The New Forces say they will only disarm once article 35 has been amended. Until this stalemate has been resolved, it is impossible to see Ivory Coast dragging itself out of its current crisis. Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/africa/3901939.stm Published: 2004/07/17 14:56:45 GMT ÂŠ BBC MMX
Côte d'Ivoire Côte d'Ivoire was once the economic powerhouse of West Africa: a stable and affluent country which had managed to avoid the descent into civil war that had plagued so many of its neighbours. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was known as the ‘African miracle'. And yet in September 2002, an army mutiny escalated into a full-scale rebellion, resulting in the country being split into a rebel-held north and a government-held south. Several failed peace agreements later, the country remains divided in a military stalemate. The standoff has led to a culture of impunity characterised by human rights violations such as extortion, harassment and intimidation of civilians by government forces and harassment, arbitrary arrests, extortion of money and robbery by the rebels. There are also reports of extra-judicial executions and the use of child soldiers by both sides. Natural resources are key to the financing of the conflict. In September 2005, Global Witness investigations discovered that diamonds mined in rebel-held Forces Nouvelles areas were being smuggled into Mali and Guinea and then onto the international market. A UN Panel of Experts report found that the rebels were using cocoa and cotton, as well as diamonds, to fund their war effort and for personal gain. In December 2005, three years after the conflict started, the Security Council extended the arms embargo against Côte d'Ivoire to include a ban on rough diamond exports from the country. Natural resources are also important in funding the government and government-associated militias. Some 40% of the world's cocoa comes from Côte d'Ivoire. Cocoa makes up 35% of the country's export earnings. The majority of cocoa plantations are in the government-controlled south of the country. The UN Panel of Experts estimated that 20% of government military spending had come directly from the cocoa industry in the form of contributions, loans and grants. This is in addition to the routine contributions made by the industry via taxes to the treasury. For example, in August 2003, the chairman of one of the cocoa industry's regulating bodies admitted giving large sums of the institution's money to President Gbagbo to enable him to ‘defend Ivorian people'. The situation in Côte d'Ivoire suggests worrying signs of a war economy that is thriving on a combination of access to land and control over natural resources, coupled with social and ethnic violence. Given the recent history of other West African countries and the presence of Liberian militias in parts of Côte d'Ivoire, failure to address this control over natural resources could constitute a danger not only for the country but also for the entire region.
Published on Sep 26, 2010