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Cote D'Ivoire

Wednesday, 29 December 2010 18:16

Côte D'Ivoire has been making headlines lately. Ever since the civil war between the Northern rebels and the South broke out in 2002, the country has remained the focus of most international effort geared toward bringing peace in the country.  With a population of over 21 million of which 26% is made indigenes from the neighboring countries such as Bukina Faso,  Côte D’Ivoire has fought immensely to retain its identity.

After the country became independent on 7 August 1960, it was led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny till 1993. It maintained close political and economic association with its West African neighbors, while at the same time maintaining close ties to the West, especially to France. Since the end of Houphouët-Boigny's rule, Côte d'Ivoire has experienced one coups d’état, in 1999, and a civil war, which broke out on September 19, 2002. A peace deal was agreed between the rebel groups from the North and the nationalist from the South. By 2004, all fighting had stopped, but with the country split into two distinct parts; the rebel-held north and a government-held south.

Though all the fighting had stopped by 2004, the tension between the two parts remained high so much that it required a strong United Nations force (United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI)) together with the French force to maintain the peace deals. Between 2004 and 2007, two significant peace agreements were signed.

First was the 2005 Pretoria Peace Agreement signed on the 6th of April 2005 in Pretoria. The Agreement, mediated by Thabo Mbeki for the African Union, brought Ivorian political leaders to Pretoria for the signing of this symbolic agreement. The leaders present at the signing included President Laurent Gbagbo, the then Prime Minister Seydou Diarra representing the government of National Reconciliation, Henri Konan Bédié representing the Parti Démocratique de Côte D’Ivoire (PDCI), former Prime Minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara for the Ressemblement de Républicains (RDR) and Minister of State Guillaume Soro.

A key point in the agreement was their solemn declaration for immediate cessation of all hostilities and an end of the war through out the national territory. They also unanimously agreed to an immediate disarmament of all militia across the national territory.

The Pretoria Peace Agreement was followed by the 2007 Ouagadougou Peace Agreement mediated by President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, on the behalf of the ECOWAS.  Present at the discussion table were two parties, one representing President Laurent Gbagbo and the other representing the Forces Nouvelle (New Forces).  On like the Pretoria Agreement that called for an end to hostilities, the Ouagadougou agreement was more of a reconciliation agreement with the Ivorian minister of Solidarity and war victims present.

A key point from the Ouagadougou Agreement was their unanimous agreement and commitment to the UN resolution 1633 (2005) and 1721(2006) of the UN Security Council.  More importantly, all parties agreed to create the conditions conducive to free, fair, open and transparent democratic elections.

However, the transitional presidential elections suffered multiple postponements due to technical disagreements. The elections finally took place in November 2010, with Allasane Ouatara declared as the winner, scoring 54% against 46% for Gbagbo. This preliminary results announced by the country’s independent electoral commission where overruled by the constitutional court on grounds of electoral mal-practices in some areas of the country, especially those recorded in the North.

Overruling the results and declaring Gbagbo the winner has left the country in precarious political standoff, with the international community backing Allasane Ouattara. Gbagbor has refused to concede defeat, leading to boths sides claiming ownership of the highest office in the country.  They both got sworn in as head of states.

The international and regional bodies who have recognized Allasane Outattara as the winner have called on Gbagbo to concede defeat and step down, or be forcefully removed from power.  Officials from ECOWAS are currently mediating and seeking peaceful means to end this impasse.

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 December 2010 00:02
 
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