#GetToKnow: BurkinaFaso
August 4, 2016
Ikamva Lethu (Our Future)
August 9, 2016

#GetToKnow: Ivory Coast

For more than three decades after its independence from France, Ivory Coast was known for its peaceful and well developed economy.[1] An armed rebellion in 2002 split the nation in two [2] and since then, peace deals have alternated with renewed violence as the country has slowly edged its way towards a political resolution of the conflict.

Under the leadership of its first president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Ivory Coast enjoyed relative peace and harmony amongst its diverse ethnic and religious groups. All this ended when the late Robert Guei led a coup in 1999 which toppled Henri Bedie who had succeeded Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s.[3] Bedie fled to France after planting the seeds of ethnic discord by trying to stir up xenophobia against Muslim northerners, including his main rival, Alassane Ouattara. Similarly, Guei, exploited this same strategy when he had Ouattara banned from the presidential election in 2000 because of his foreign parentage, leaving only Laurent Gbagbo as the contender.[4]

Once Gbagbo replaced Guei after he was overthrown in a popular uprising in 2000, violence replaced xenophobia. Scores of Ouattara’s supporters were killed after their leader called for new elections. In 2002 a troop rebellion turned into a full-scale revolt after they had voiced their discontent of northern Muslims who felt they were being discriminated against. While most of the fighting ended in 2004, Ivory Coast remained tense and divided. The French forces patrolled the buffer zone which separated the north, held by rebels known as the New Forces, and the government-controlled south.

Elections were eventually held in October 2010; after the vote ushered in civil unrest when the incumbent, Gbagbo, refused to concede victory to Ouattara who had democratically won the election. A four-month stand-off followed and was ended when Ouattara’s forces overran the south of the country, capturing Gbagbo and declaring him deposed.[5] In November 2011, Gbagbo was transferred to The Hague to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity. Since 2013, Ivory Coast continue to grapple with the aftermath of a 2010–11 civil conflict sparked by a disputed presidential election; the crisis left some 3,000 people dead and an estimated one million others displaced. [6]

In 2015, Ouattara won a second five-year term with nearly 84% of the vote, in an election described as credible by US observers.[7] President-a US educated economist- from the Muslim north, he served as Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s last Prime Minister following a long career at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 Table 1[8]

Independence Year 7 August 1960
President Alassane Ouattara
Government Republic
Capital City Yamoussoukro
GDP (2015) $ 31.75 billion
Population (2015) 22.70 million
Religion Islam, Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Major Languages French, indigenous languages
Currency CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc
Life Expectancy 55 years (men), 58 years (women)

 

 

[1] BBC News. 2015. Ivory Coast country profile. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13287216 (Accessed on: 2 August 2016).

[2] ibid

[3] BBC News 2016. Ivory Coast profile – Timeline. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13287585 (Accessed on: 2 August 2016)

[4] ibid

 

[5] News24. 2011. Ivory Coast fighters descend on main city. Available at: http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/Ivory-Coast-fighters-descend-on-main-city-20110401 9Accessed: 1 August 2016)

[6] Freedom House Index. 2014. Ivory Coast.  Available at: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2014/cote-divoire. (Accessed at: 2August 2016)

[7] n 1

[8] The World Bank: Côte d’Ivoire. 2016. Available at:  http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/cotedivoire. Accessed: 1 August 2016)