Ever since 1999 and the military coup d’état led by General Robert Guei, the Ivory Coast has had a series of coups d’état, elections and ceasefires. Issouf Sanogo has been observing and recording events there for more than ten years.

Ivory Coast was once cited as a fine example of democracy and economic stability, but, by 2000, after elections giving official endorsement to the regime led by Robert Guei (brought to power after a coup d’état), the country collapsed into turmoil, as had been the case of many other African countries. Violent rebellion began in 2002, when Laurent Gbagbo was prime minister. The rebels did not recognize his authority and took control of the city of Bouaké in the center of the country in September 2002. Laurent Gbagbo called on all able-bodied men to join his army. The rebels did not manage to take control of the entire country and in January 2003 the Marcoussis accords were signed. Laurent Gbagbo remained in power, and his opponents were appointed to a number of ministerial positions. Gbagbo supporters were opposed to the Marcoussis agreement and attacked French forces based in Abidjan. The United Nations sent in peacekeepers to secure the west of the country where there were still violent clashes.


The accords proved insufficient and the State went into economic decline. In early 2008, young people and women demonstrated in protest against price increases and the high cost of living. 2008 was a critical year. Laurent Gbagbo finally set a date for elections (a condition set under the terms of the Ouagadougou peace accord signed in 2007) and set up a process for registering voters. Many citizens in Ivory Coast, however, do not have ID papers, and officials in charge of the census went on strike, slowing down the process; a further problem was the lack of security in the offices where civilians registered on the electoral role. The rebels called on the government to postpone the elections.

The elections were finally held in late 2010. After eleven years of political and military crisis, the people of Ivory Coast were able to vote, under proper conditions, in the first round of the presidential election. The two contenders in the final round were Alassane Ouattara, the former rebel commander, and Laurent Gbagbo, the outgoing president. The Constitutional Council of the country announced that Gbagbo had won the election, while the Independent Electoral Commission maintained that there was a clear majority for Ouattara. The United Nations and many countries around the world officially recognized Ouattara as the elected president and called on Gbagbo to step down. Gbagbo resisted the move and violence ensued. Despite attempts at mediation by African leaders, the crisis continued, getting worse and forcing may citizens to leave the country. A UN-backed operation failed to restore calm. The crisis went on until April 11, 2011, when Laurent Gbagbo was arrested. Alassane Ouattara then took power. On May 21, 2011, the official investiture ceremony was held for Alassane Ouattara, president of Côte d’Ivoire.

Issouf Sanogo

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