A post-conflict transition process is now under way. Key emphases include security and public order; economic recovery; transitional justice and accountability for human rights abuses; and national political reconciliation and reunification. Continued political volatility is likely, both due to the divisions that widened during the post-electoral crisis, and pending resolution of the varied root causes of the crisis. The Overview and Recent Developments sections discuss Gbagbo’s capture and ensuing events; prior developments are addressed in the balance of the report.
The crisis directly threatened long-standing U.S. and international efforts to support a transition to peace, political stability, and democratic governance in Côte d’Ivoire, among other U.S. goals. Indirectly at stake were broad, long-term U.S. efforts and billions of dollars of foreign aid to ensure regional stability, peace, democratic and accountable governance, and economic growth in West Africa. The United States supported the Ivoirian peace process diplomatically and financially, with funding appropriated by Congress. It supports the ongoing U.N. Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and helped fund a UNOCI predecessor; and helped a regional military intervention force deploy in 2003. The 112 th Congress may be asked to consider additional funding for UNOCI, post-conflict recovery efforts, or for additional emergency humanitarian aid, in addition to $33.73 million worth of such assistance provided as of mid-April. Côte d’Ivoire-related bills introduced in the 112 th Congress include H.Res. 85 (Payne), expressing congressional support for such ends, and H.Res. 212 (Timothy V. Johnson), calling for the United States not to intervene militarily in Côte d’Ivoire in the absence of congressional approval. Top U.S officials also attempted to directly pressure Gbagbo to step down. An existing U.S. ban on bilateral non-humanitarian aid was augmented with visa restrictions and financial sanctions targeting the Gbagbo regime. As of early 2011, regional mediation had produced few results.
The election was designed to cap an often forestalled peace process defined by the 2007 Ouagadougou Political Agreement, the most recent in a series of partially implemented peace accords aimed at reunifying the country, which was divided between a government-controlled southern region and a rebel-controlled northern zone after a brief civil war in 2002. Ouattara based his victory claim on the U.N.-certified runoff results announced by the Ivoirian Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). These indicated that he had won the election with a 54.1% vote share, against 45.9% for Gbagbo. The international community, including the United States, endorsed the IEC-announced poll results as legitimate and demanded that Gbagbo cede the presidency to Ouattara. Gbagbo, rejecting the IEC decision, appealed it to the Ivoirian Constitutional Council, which reviewed and annulled it and proclaimed Gbagbo president, with 51.5% of votes against 48.6% for Ouattara. Gbagbo therefore claimed to have been duly elected and refused to hand power over to Ouattara. The electoral standoff caused a sharp rise in political tension and violence, deaths and human rights abuses, and spurred attacks on U.N. peacekeepers. The international community used diplomatic and financial efforts, sanctions, and a military intervention threat to pressure Gbagbo to step aside.
Côte d’Ivoire is emerging from a severe political-military crisis that followed a disputed November 28, 2010, presidential runoff election between former president Laurent Gbagbo and his, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. Both claimed electoral victory and formed opposing governments. Their rivalry spurred a full-scale civil military conflict in early March 2011, after months of growing political violence. Armed conflict largely ended days after Gbagbo’s arrest by pro-Ouattara forces, aided by United Nations (U.N.) and French peacekeepers, but limited residual fighting was continuing to occur as of April 20.
Côte d’Ivoire Post-Gbagbo: Crisis Recovery
- 1 Overview
- 2 Recent Developments1
- 2.1 Capture of Gbagbo
- 2.2 Post-Gbagbo Military Situation
- 2.3 Post-Gbagbo Transition
- 2.4 Security16
- 2.5 Humanitarian Situation
- 2.6 U.S. Statements and Responses
- 2.7 Human Rights Situation
- 2.8 Post-Crisis Stabilization Priorities
- 3 Background and Implications for the United States45
- 4 Post-Electoral Crisis
- 4.1 Competing Electoral Victory Claims
- 4.2 International Recognition of Ouattara Resisted by Gbagbo
- 4.3 Political Tension and Violence
- 4.4 Humanitarian Effects and Responses
- 5 International Reactions
- 5.1 International Multilateral and Bilateral Responses
- 5.2 Regional Diplomacy
- 5.3 Threat of Military Intervention to Oust Gbagbo
- 5.4 U.N. Sanctions
- 5.5 European Union Sanctions
- 5.6 Constriction of Gbagbo Administration Access to Finance
- 6 U.S. Diplomatic and Policy Responses Prior to Gbagbo Arrest
- 7 U.S. Relations, Assistance, and Elections Support
- 8 Outlook
Côte d’Ivoire, a West African country of 21.5 million people that is nearly as large as New Mexico and is the world’s leading cocoa producer, is emerging from a severe political-military crisis. It grew out of a disputed November 28, 2010 presidential runoff election between former president Laurent Gbagbo (baag-boh) and his opponent, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara (wah-tah-rah), who both claimed electoral victory and formed opposing governments. Their rivalry erupted into a full-scale civil military conflict between their armed supporters in early March 2011, after three months of growing political volatility and violence. After the election, the United States, together with most governments around the world, endorsed Ouattara as the legally elected president and pressed for Gbagbo to cede the presidency to him, in accordance with United Nations (U.N.)-certified run-off results announced by the Ivoirian Independent Electoral Commission. Key multilateral institutions that pushed for this end included the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), and the U.N. Security Council. A range of multilateral and bilateral measures were also pursued in order to pressure Gbagbo to step down and to restrict his government’s access to financial resources and operational funding. These included sovereign credit restrictions and a range of multilateral and bilateral targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel-related, among other sanctions.
Capture of Gbagbo
The armed conflict reached a critical turning point on April 11, after days of heavy combat in Abidjan, when troops fighting to oust Gbagbo in favor of Ouattara seized the presidential compound in the commercial capital, Abidjan, and took Gbagbo and his family into custody. Gbagbo and about 120 other detainees were initially brought to the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, where the Ouattara government has been based since the election under the protection of U.N. Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) troops. Gbagbo was transferred on April 13 to Korhogo, a northern town, where he is under house arrest. Simone Gbagbo, one of his two wives, was reportedly held at the Golf Hotel until April 22, when she was transferred and placed under house arrest in Odienne, a northwestern town. About 30 members of Gbagbo’s former cabinet and his party and family remain under house arrest and UNOCI protection, most at a Gbagbo seaside family residence near Abidjan. About 70 of the 120 initial detainees were released in mid-April.2
Gbagbo’s capture by pro-Ouattara forces—fighting as the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) but known until mid-March as the Forces Nouvelles (FN, or New Forces),3 a rebel force that controlled the country’s north after launching an anti-Gbagbo rebellion in 20024—was coordinated with French and UNOCI peacekeepers. Just prior to Gbagbo’s arrest, these forces, using small mounted artillery, helicopter gunships, and armored vehicles, had attacked the compound in a bid to neutralize heavy weapons reportedly being used by Gbagbo’s forces.5 Similar operations, premised on a need to protect civilians, U.N. personnel, and foreign diplomats against attacks by pro-Gbagbo forces, had in preceding days targeted other pro-Gbagbo military bases and operating locations in Abidjan used by these forces. Such actions had long been sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council, which reiterated its authorization in Resolution 1975, passed on March 30.6
Gbagbo’s Arrest and Debate Over Multinational Force Role
The U.N. and French roles in facilitating Gbagbo’s detention, among other military actions undertaken by UNOCI and French forces during the crisis, were controversial in the view of some governments and policy makers. Russia and China reportedly expressed reservations about UNOCI’s election certification and peacekeeping roles and slowed U.N. Security Council decision-making in responses to the post-electoral crisis. After Gbagbo’s capture, President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia sharply questioned the impartiality of the United Nations in Côte d’Ivoire and criticized what he said was a “very dangerous tendency” to intervene on one side of a party to a political-military conflict.7 Senator James M. Inhofe, one of the only Members of Congress to take a strong stand on behalf of Gbagbo’s electoral claims and in opposition to accusations that Gbagbo ordered or abetted human rights abuses, made similar criticisms. He has stated that the French mission and UNOCI were biased in favor of Ouattara, and called their peacekeeping actions “war-making,” among other critical characterizations.8 Lawyers for Gbagbo are also attempting to legally counter French actions during the crisis. Gbagbo had maintained for months that the French were behind an international political-military conspiracy to oust him and that UNOCI was militarily collaborating with the FN and various foreign governments. After his capture, his daughter launched a high-powered legal effort to determine whether French actions and the continued detention of her parents were legal. The same group of lawyers filed a wrongful death suit citing crimes against humanity against President Ouattara in early May.9
Gbagbo’s detention followed days of heavy combat in Abidjan and unsuccessful international attempts to negotiate his surrender and to arrange a cease-fire with his government’s military leadership, as well as several failed FRCI attempts to take the compound. The fighting in Abidjan was preceded by several weeks of increasing combat across southern Côte d’Ivoire, in which the FRCI predominated. On March 30, after seizing a swath of western borderlands and series of western and eastern towns, the FRCI employed a pincer movement to take control of the political capital, Yamoussoukro, in the center of the country. FRCI elements then swept south toward Abidjan and the key southwestern cocoa exporting port of San Pedro, which they seized on March 31. On the same day, they entered Abidjan, joining a smaller allied force already present in the city. A week and a half of fierce urban combat, which resulted in numerous civilian casualties, as well as attacks on foreign diplomats, then ensued in Abidjan. Combat also continued in other parts of the country. The FRCI campaign appeared to encounter little resistance, due to desertions, top military leadership defections, and an apparent frequent unwillingness to fight by some nominally pro-Gbagbo regular military forces; strategic withdrawals by pro-Gbagbo forces; and looting and lack of command and control among pro-Gbagbo militias.10
Post-Gbagbo Military Situation
As of April 14, FRCI troops were patrolling the streets of Abidjan, in some cases with gendarmes formerly loyal to Gbagbo and in requisitioned civilian vehicles, as were French and U.N. troops. Limited fighting reportedly erupted on April 16 and recurred in subsequent days as a result of efforts by FRCI forces to force the surrender and disarmament of remnant pro-Gbagbo forces in the large, generally pro-Gbagbo Yopougon section of Abidjan. During the operations, FRCI forces reportedly engaged in looting, despite warnings against such actions by Ouattara. The threat to the reestablishment of order and security that such behavior posed was frankly acknowledged by the deputy FRCI commander, Issiaka “Wattao” Ouattara, who in an April 18 interview stated that FRCI patrols would need to be conducted jointly with French or UNOCI forces in order to prevent FRCI looting and a degradation of the security environment. In the final weeks of April and early May, negotiations were undertaken with pro-Gbagbo fighters in the large Yopougon area of Abidjan, viewed as a pro-Gbagbo stronghold, resulting in the surrender of about 50 fighters in late April. Periodic, often intense combat between the FRCI and die-hard pro-Gbagbo fighters, reportedly including Liberian mercenaries, however, simultaneously continued in Yopougon. Such combat, in some cases involving heavy weapons, had resulted in dozens of casualties by May 3.11
Death of Coulibaly
A second source of continuing insecurity and repeated armed clashes were intra-FRCI tensions over looting and long-standing factional rivalries, which spurred fighting in San Pedro and in Abidjan about a week and a half after Gbagbo’s capture. During combat between the FRCI and Gbagbo’s forces in early April, such rivalries had also reportedly spurred fighting between FN elements from the north and members of the “Invisible Commandos,” a group of Abidjan-based fighters led by a dissident, one-time FN commander, Ibrahim “IB” Coulibaly.
As violence grew during the post-electoral crisis, the Invisible Commandos had acted as a neighborhood self-defense force, protecting areas heavily populated by northerners and immigrants against attacks by pro-Gbagbo state security forces and militias. They later took offensive action, carrying out attacks in and attempting to seize control of other neighborhoods prior to the FRCI’s entry into Abidjan. While overtly anti-Gbagbo, Coulibaly and his support base were viewed as representing an armed element and a potentially emergent political interest group that—based on the key role that they had played fighting pro-Gbagbo forces and in facilitating Ouattara’s accession to power—might demand political power and patronage within the new Ouattara government, or otherwise challenge Ouattara’s political mandate. In mid-April, Coulibaly had begun to take on the apparent role of a local political patron, repeatedly receiving groups of neighborhood residents and supplicants who thanked him for protecting the neighborhood. In mid-April, however, Coulibaly dismissed alleged differences between himself and other former FN FRCI elements and other pro-Ouattara militias. He stated in an interview that he viewed Ouattara as a father figure and was loyal to his government, but implied that he continued to have sharp differences with Soro.12
Ibrahim “IB” Coulibaly: A Repeated Source of Instability
Coulibaly, a former army officer associated with multiple past putsches and coups d’état, reportedly had long-standing bitter, antagonistic relations with Guillaume Soro. Soro, Ouattara’s prime minister and a former prime minister under Gbagbo, in accordance with a 2007 peace-building accord, had assumed political leadership of the FN leader after the 2002 rebellion and in the process sidelined Coulibaly. Coulibaly had long-standing but reportedly distanced relations with Ouattara, whose prime ministerial bodyguard unit Coulibaly had led in the early 1990s.
Coulibaly was reported to have helped lead a 1999 coup d’état against then-president President Henri Konan Bédié, whose successor, junta leader General Robert Guei, accused Coulibaly of involvement in a putsch in 2000. Coulibaly was also suspected in an early 2001 coup attempt against the Gbagbo government, and later helped lead the 2002 rebellion that led to the formation of the FN. He was also suspected in a coup plot against the Gbagbo government in 2003. The latter incident led to his arrest in Paris, France, where he had fled after differences emerged between himself and Blaise Compaoré, the president of Burkina Faso, where Coulibaly had previously been living in exile after being sidelined as FN leader by Soro. Coulibaly was also thought by some observers to have played a role in the early 2004 killing of an FN officer, and pro-Coulibaly and pro-Soro FN forces reportedly clashed in July 2004. Coulibaly’s involvement in a mid-2007 rocket attack on an aircraft carrying Soro in the FN stronghold of Bouake and a late 2007 attack in Bouake on an FN patrol were also suspected.13
The political and security threat posed by Coulibaly prompted Ouattara—asserting his role as the national military commander-in-chief—to order Coulibaly and all other militia leaders to voluntarily disarm their groups or face forcible disarmament. He also ordered all FRCI combat units to their barracks. Coulibaly reportedly agreed to disarm, but also continued to seek a meeting with Ouattara. He failed to attend several meetings on disarming, however, including an April 24 meeting with Soro. In response, the Defense Minister ordered Invisible Commando forces to desert Coulibaly and formally join the FRCI. Two days later, Coulibaly and his entourage were attacked by pro-Soro FRCI elements while on the way to a putative meeting with Ouattara, and on April 27, the FRCI launched an intensive attack on Invisible Commando positions, despite claims by Coulibaly’s deputy that the group was in the process of voluntarily disarming. These claims were contradicted by a UNOCI unit sent to escort Coulibaly to a disarmament meeting with the government. During the fighting, Coulibaly died, either as a result of combat or by his own hand, after a demand that he surrender; accounts from FRCI and Invisible Commando sources regarding the cause of his death conflict.14 While the fighting that led to his death indicated that the security situation remained precarious, his passing removed from the political scene a potential spoiler and source of continuing instability.
On April 21, Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) reinstated Côte d’Ivoire’s membership in the organization, which had been suspended due to the Gbagbo government’s failure to heed the internationally recognized electoral outcome or comply with AU decisions regarding efforts to resolve the crisis. On April 27, 2011, President Ouattara announced that he would be formally inaugurated as president on May 21, 2011. He also said that he would soon nominate an inclusive government that would include ministers from Gbagbo’s FPI political party, on the condition that the FPI recognize his election. This, he said had not yet occurred, apparently referring to comments by FPI leaders recognizing the de facto nature of his presidency, but questioning its legal legitimacy. The cabinet will reportedly include 32-36 cabinet posts, and nominees for were being negotiated between the Ouattara administration and the Gbagbo camp. The establishment of such a unity government was one of the key recommendations of a high-level AU panel, which Ouattara had largely agreed to implement, with some qualifications, including a requirement that the FPI recognize his election.15
On April 28, in a move aimed at bolstering stability and the consolidation of peace in Côte d’Ivoire, the U.N. Security Council enacted Resolution 1980, renewing for one year an arms embargo and a ban on the import of rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire, along with targeted financial and travel restrictions on eight persons, albeit with some qualifications and provision for a review. A key exception to the arms embargo would be technical training and assistance in support of Ivorian Security Sector Reform efforts, under U.N.-monitored conditions. The resolution also urged that disarmament efforts be prioritized, and reaffirmed UNOCI’s role in collecting and interdicting illicit arms, called for regional security coordination efforts, and stressed that it would closely monitor efforts to violate the sanctions it had imposed.
Following Gbagbo’s detention, President Ouattara called for social order and calm, and said that his immediate priority would be the maintenance of security. He also warned against efforts to seek vengeance or to engage in reprisal attacks in response to developments during the crisis, calling instead for such grievances to be resolved through processes of reconciliation and forgiveness. He stated that his government would give itself up to two-months to achieve the “total pacification” of the country, initially by halting the activities of militiamen and mercenaries who, along with youth militias, he called on to disarm. A second major emphasis, he said, would be the collection and destruction of arms, primarily through voluntary relinquishment but also under the threat of criminal prosecution or coercive means, if necessary. These activities, he said, would be aided by France’s Force Licorne, a U.N.-mandated bilateral security force, and UNOCI peacekeepers, a strategy that appeared designed to forestall accusations of his forces might use such operations to target Gbagbo supporters with abuse. Some Gbagbo forces had begun surrendering arms as of April 13, and state television broadcast a statement by Gbagbo, after his capture, calling for that end. Gbagbo later renewed this request during a meeting with a delegation of elder statespersons in early May. A similar appeal was made by the leader of Gbagbo’s Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI) political party on April 16 and, days later, by the leader of a militantly pro-Gbagbo student group, the Federation of Students and Scholars of Ivory Coast.
Despite continuing looting and limited combat, gas stations and public transport began to function again in some areas of the capital, commercial activity was picking up, and piped water and electricity supplies that had been cut due to fighting had been restored in most areas of the city by April 13. Five previously Gbagbo-allied generals who defected and publicly swore allegiance to Ouattara were joined in doing so by additional security service leaders, including that of the CECOS special forces internal security unit, which had been implicated in attacks on Ouattara supporters.
Humanitarian conditions remain poor but are slowly stabilizing as fighting has abated. As of late March, the crisis had caused the displacement of 800,000 to 1.1 million people. As of late-April, an estimated 850,000 persons remained internally displaced (150,000 in western Côte d’Ivoire and up to 700,000 in Abidjan). More than 165,778 Ivoirians and other nationals remained as refugees in neighboring Liberia, there were an estimated 17,675 in others nearby countries, according to U.N. estimates. On April 8, U.N. agencies issued a revised cross-agency Regional Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan (EHAP) for Côte d’Ivoire and neighboring countries. The plan expanded their donor appeal for Côte d’Ivoire from $32.7 million to $160.4 million, which was funded at 20% as of April 29. In addition, U.N. agencies had issued a separate $146.5 million appeal for humanitarian responses in Liberia, which was funded at 41% as of April 29. $26 million in non-EHAP humanitarian aid was also provided by donors to Côte d’Ivoire and more than $25 million of such aid was provided to Liberia. In addition to conventional refugee and internally displaced person (IDP) aid, such as food, shelter, transport, and health, education, and protection services, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization was providing seeds, tools and fertilizer kits to an estimated 12,000 Ivoirian and Liberian farming households affected by Ivoirian population displacements.17
As of late-April, $34.48 million worth of U.S. assistance was being provided to help address emergency humanitarian needs generated by the Ivoirian crisis. The bulk of this assistance was being channeled through U.N. and other major international humanitarian relief, migration, and refugee agencies, with a smaller portion going to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Liberia. About $5.48 million was being provided by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with about $3.48 million supporting aid in Liberia and $2 million in Côte d’Ivoire. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) was providing $16.4 million in food aid for both refugees and host communities, $4.7 million of which in Côte d’Ivoire and $11.7 million in Liberia. The State Department’s Population, Refugees, and Migration Bureau (PRM) was providing $12.6 million worth of aid for refugees, of which $9.4 million was allocated to programs in Liberia and $3.2 million supported programs in Côte d’Ivoire and neighboring countries other than Liberia.18
U.S. Statements and Responses
Obama Administration officials welcomed Gbagbo’s capture, along with some Members. On April 11, the White House issued a statement welcoming “the decisive turn of events in Côte d’Ivoire,” in which “former President Laurent Gbagbo’s illegitimate claim to power has finally come to an end.” This it called “a victory for the democratic will of the Ivoirian people,” who it said now “have the chance to begin to reclaim their country, solidify their democracy, and rebuild a vibrant economy.”19 On the same day, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated that Gbagbo’s capture “sends a strong signal to dictators and tyrants throughout the region and around the world: They may not disregard the voice of their own people in free and fair elections, and there will be consequences for those who cling to power.”20 President Obama and Secretary Clinton also commended the actions of France, the U.N., other governments, and international entities, such as ECOWAS, in helping to resolve the crisis. On April 12, President Obama called Ouattara to reiterate the White House message and congratulate him on assuming elected presidential power. He reportedly offered U.S. support for Ouattara’s “efforts to unite Côte d’Ivoire, restart the economy, restore security, and reform the security forces.”21
On April 13, the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights of the Foreign Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing on Côte d’Ivoire entitled, “Crisis in Côte d’Ivoire: Implications for the Country and Region.” The committee also used its meeting to consider and hold a markup session on H.Res. 85 (“Supporting the democratic aspirations of the Ivoirian people and calling on the United States to apply intense diplomatic pressure and provide humanitarian support in response to the political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire”). During the hearing an amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Representative Payne was accepted. The subcommittee did not consider another Côte d’Ivoire-related bill, H.Res. 212, (“Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should not intervene in the civil war in the Ivory Coast”), introduced by Representative Timothy V. Johnson on April 7, 2011. The sole witness at the hearing, William Fitzgerald, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, commented on current developments in Côte d’Ivoire, laid out the basic principles of U.S. policy toward the country, and responded to Members’ questions on various aspects of the crisis and prospective U.S. contributions to its continuing resolution.
State Department officials are reportedly undertaking a review and procedural work necessary to remove U.S. restrictions on non-humanitarian bilateral assistance that have been in place since 1999. They are also finalizing a policy paper focusing on prospective U.S. policy toward the Ouattara government that reportedly includes proposed disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR) programs and responds to post-conflict humanitarian and transitional development needs. In addition, several U.S. teams are reportedly undertaking field assessments The policy paper will reportedly not be finalized until FY2011 country-level allocations are finalized following the enactment of P.L. 112-10, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011.
Human Rights Situation
Gbagbo’s capture spurred a rapid decrease in the scale of combat and associated casualties and human rights abuses, but sporadic fighting continued in subsequent weeks, primarily in a few areas of Abidjan. It was portrayed by the FRCI as focusing on mopping-up operations aimed at defeating diehard pro-Gbagbo fighters, notably hardcore youth militants who had reportedly been given small arms by the regime. It was criticized, however, by the human rights group as providing cover for a brutal campaign of reprisals, including extrajudicial killings, both in Abidjan and elsewhere, notably in the west.22
While the earlier nationwide FRCI military campaign encountered ineffective organized military opposition outside of Abidjan, it reportedly resulted in numerous civilian deaths, human rights abuses, and population displacements, as had prior violence perpetrated by both FRCI and pro-Gbagbo forces. Such abuses and killings had occurred during post-election Gbagbo administration operations to suppress political protests, during raids on opposition strongholds by state security forces, and as a result of attacks on civilians by pro-Gbagbo security forces and militia and by pro-Ouattara neighborhood-based self defense militias, notably in Abidjan. Increasingly, as the violence grew, presumed ethnicity was used by parties to the conflict as an indicator of putative political affiliation, and as the basis for attacks on civilian individuals and communities by militant supporters of the two presidential claimants. Election-related clashes also spurred inter-communal violence with varied roots in political, ethnic, religious and land rivalry, particularly in the far west. Such developments had drawn repeated and vocal criticism and statements of concern from international human rights observers and governments, as well as warnings that a number of the parties to the conflict had committed war crimes and other violations of international human rights law.
The aggregate number of post-electoral deaths due to political violence is unknown, but may total several thousand, according to some estimates. Such violence, which escalated sharply as the crisis continued, had resulted in at least 462 deaths by March 25, and likely many more. Fighting in late March and early April killed many additional persons, notably in the far west, including several hundred in the town of in Duekoue alone, the vast majority allegedly killed by pro-Ouattara forces, which reportedly included Liberian mercenaries. Many corpses of victims of fighting in Abidjan lay uncollected on city streets for several days after Gbagbo’s capture.23
Post-Crisis Stabilization Priorities
Post-War Economic Recovery
Apart from maintaining security, key immediate priorities of the Ouattara government are efforts to resume cocoa exports and banking operations, and to jump-start a program of post-conflict economic development, infrastructure rehabilitation, and economic reunification of the long-divided country. Infrastructure and public services in many parts of the country, notably the north, suffered from lack of state investment and neglect during Côte d’Ivoire’s decade of conflict and political stalemate, and are likely to require substantial new investment. The U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative in Ivory Coast, Young-jin Choi, however, has asserted that the economy will recover quickly because there was little damage to infrastructure, especially in Abidjan and other large cities. He stated that
Destruction was really minimum. […] The airport is intact. It is operating now. The seaport is intact and ready to operate. The sanctions are lifted. Bridges were never broken or damaged. All the roads are there. Electricity, no damage at all. Water, no damage at all to the supply.24
The government of Ouattara, a PhD economist and former International Monetary Fund (IMF) and regional central bank official, has received substantial pledges of international post-war economic transition assistance. France is offering assistance, worth about $578 million, consisting of a €350 million loan in support of budgetary aid, focused civil servant salary payments and funding of emergency social expenditures, notably in Abidjan, and a €50 million bridging loan to help pay off debt to the World Bank and AfDB to enable them to provide new lending. The European Commission (EC) of the European Union (EU) has offered a €180 million ($260 million) grant-based “recovery package” to support basic social spending, including for health, water, and sanitation, and agriculture, and to clear Ivoirian debt arrears to the European Investment Bank. The package is aimed at supporting immediate humanitarian and other needs and long term Ivoirian-EU development cooperation. The World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) did not announce specific aid amounts, but in press remarks, the World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick stated that “if the security situation allows,” the Bank “can within the next couple of weeks reactivate some World Bank programs worth about $100 million.” He said that thee would likely focus on “emergency infrastructure, water services, trash pickup, making sure that schools and clinics function,” as well as “targeted assistance to victims of sexual violence.”25 Zoellick was also slated to meet with the Ivoirian Finance Minister, Charles Koffi Diby, the week of April 11. Donor governments are reportedly considering a write-off of $3 billion of a reported $14 billion in sovereign debt.26
Exports and Trade
To reinitiate cocoa exports, on April 13, Ouattara announced that he had signed a decree the day before vouching that the port of Abidjan was under his government’s control and naming an interim port manager, laying the groundwork to rapidly recommence cocoa exports. On April 15, he lifted a nearly three-month ban on cocoa and coffee exports imposed to cut off Gbagbo administration access to export earnings. The port of Abidjan reopened on April 18, and was expected to load several ships with cocoa exports in the following days. These moves came after the EU, at Ouattara’s request, lifted sanctions on certain formerly Gbagbo-controlled entities, including the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro and parastatals involved in oil refining and cocoa and coffee trade. A reported 450,000 tonnes of cocoa held back from export under the former ban were expected to be shipped soon, although a possible hitch was an exporters’ request to pay taxes on them by check after shipment, as opposed to cash at the time of export, in order to quickly clear warehoused stocks quickly by avoiding procedural delays sometimes associated with such payments. Still, clearance of the stocks, which were projected to grow during the mid-crop harvest (May-August) due to favorable weather, was expected to take months.27 On April 17, French forces also turned over to FRCI control of Abidjan’s airport, which they had secured during the fighting that preceded Gbagbo’s arrest. 28
The national Ivoirian branch of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), the regional central bank, opened on April 26, and was slated to begin to inject cash liquidity into the banking system within days. During the prior week, the Ouattara administration had reportedly sought to airlift into the country supplies of the regional West African Communauté Financière de l’Afrique (CFA) franc, which is used as the Ivoirian national currency. Several key private banks that had suspended operations in February, including Societe Generale, BNP Paribas, and Citibank, reportedly resumed operations in Cote d’Ivoire in late April, and two regional banks, Bank Atlantique and United Bank for Africa, were slated to reopen in May. A 25% reported rise in late March/early April in the price of $2.3 billion in Ivoirian international bonds due in 2032—on which the Gbagbo government defaulted in January—may, along with a decline in global cocoa prices, signal market optimism in Ouattara and the prospect of a resumption of foreign investment. The bond price rallied again in early May after the Ivorian finance minister publicly declared the Ouattara government’s intention to make up missed coupon payments.29
Transitional Justice and Human Rights Inquiries
In addition to ensuring state and public security and jump-starting the economy, an immediate key Ouattara government priority is to put in place mechanisms and processes to ensure transitional justice. Ouattara called for judicial accountability for violations of human rights law, as well as other alleged crimes, and pledged to establish a process of transitional justice in the form of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), as a high-level AU panel had recommended. The TRC, he said, would document massacres, crimes, and other human rights violations by all parties arising from the crisis, including those committed by pro-Ouattara forces, along with abuses during the 1990s.30 On May 1, Ouattara, during a meeting with a delegation group of foreign elder statesmen, stated that he planned to name Charles Konan Banny, a former Ivoirian prime minister (2005-2007), as the head of what Ouattara said would be a Commission for Truth, Reconciliation, and Dialogue. Ouattara stated that he had “added the word dialogue” to the more common “TRC” nomenclature because “that is part of our customs,” and has said that the proposed entity would draw from the experience of South Africa’s TRC.31
Transitional Justice: Aims and Possible International Backing
Transitional justice reflects judicial and non-judicial efforts to ensure accountability for human rights abuses, economic crimes, and other violations of the rule of law during transitions—from a period of conflict, or during which legal accountability has otherwise not been guaranteed, such as dictatorship—to a context where government institutions provide or are building mechanisms and institutional capacity to ensure democratic and legal accountability. In the case of Côte d’Ivoire, the perceived need for transitional justice arises as a result of the need to rebuild an accountable, representative state, and to ensure the effective rule of law throughout the national territory, following the post-electoral crisis and a decade of war and political stalemate. During the past decade, in both the northern and southern regions of the divided country, national elections were not held and the rule of law was often enforced arbitrarily or not at all. This frequently permitted human rights abuses, economic crimes, and security force coercion to go unpunished, and public services and state institutional capacities suffered. Transitional justice efforts often attempt to balance disparate objectives, including justice, accountability, reconciliation, security, and peace building, which In some cases may be seen conflicting. They are often controversial; vanquished political interest groups may view such efforts as a means for their victorious opponents to carry out retribution, and if alleged abuses by the victorious side are not addressed, such efforts may be seen as furthering allegations of impunity from justice. In multiple countries emerging from conflict, transitional justice efforts have garnered international support, both financial and political.
Early indications that such support may be forthcoming were the U.N. Security Council’s late April passage of Resolution 1980 emphasis on a need for reconciliation and consolidation of peace through processes of dialogue and consultation, and an early May 2011 visit to Côte d’Ivoire by a group of elder group of statespersons called The Elders.32 The delegation, which included former U.N Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate and archbishop, Desmond Tutu, and the former Irish president and U.N. Human Rights High Commissioner, Mary Robinson, visited as part of an effort to promote national reconciliation efforts. The group met with leaders of key political groupings, including former president Gbagbo, who they reported had accepted his electoral loss to Ouattara. Their discussions reportedly addressed such issues as “security and disarmament, accountability and justice, the revival of the economy, youth unemployment and the empowerment of women… [and] the importance of improving security so that people feel safe enough to return to their homes, reopen their businesses, send their children back to school and carry out other normal activities.” They voiced support for Ouattara’s reconciliation and healing efforts, but stated that “the process should be independent, consultative, and not be rushed.” They also urged that it be inclusive, noting that Ivoirians who they consulted had emphasized “that accountability for human rights violations should be applied to all those involved, warning against perceptions of ‘victor’s justice’.” 33
Despite his focus on reconciliation and unity, and after stating that “reconciliation cannot happen without justice,” Ouattara also announced that Gbagbo and one of his two wives, Simone, would be subjected to a judicial investigation by the minister of justice and face unspecified charges “at a ‘national level and an international level’,” along with unspecified supporters. On April 16, the Justice Minister stated that such probes would focus on “crimes of blood,” arms purchase, or embezzlement by former Gbagbo regime leaders. On April 27, the government reaffirmed that it was carrying out an unspecified criminal probe against Gbagbo, his wife Simone, and 100 other close associates over alleged human rights abuses and other crimes. According to the Justice and Human Rights minister, the prospective plaintiffs were slated to be questioned during the first week of May.34 The Ouattara government also offered some assurances over this process, in the wake of reports that Gbagbo’s wife, Simone, and his son were reportedly beaten shortly after their capture, during which Gbagbo’s interior minister was fatally shot. Ouattara pledged that the physical integrity and safety of Gbagbo and his first wife, Simone,35 would be guaranteed, that their rights would be respected, and that they would be accorded dignified treatment.36
Ouattara also said that he had requested that the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate alleged crimes arising from the crisis. An April 6 ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) statement indicated that such activities were under way prior to Ouattara’s request. It said that the OTP “has been conducting a preliminary examination in Ivory Coast” and was collecting “information on alleged crimes committed there by different parties to the conflict.”37 On May 2, the ICC prosecutor stated that he would soon request that ICC judges authorize a formal investigation into alleged post-electoral crimes against humanity and war crimes, but stated that he would likely await the findings of a separate U.N. Human Rights Council probe prior to opening his own formal investigation. The Human Rights Council human rights violations investigation is being undertaken by a three-member Commission of Inquiry appointed on April 12 by the council’s president. The U.N. Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) was also investigating recent events, notably killings in western Cote d’Ivoire.38
In addition to human rights abuses, abuses of civic freedoms and efforts to ensure them are likely to garner considerable attention during anticipated reconciliation processes. During the post-electoral crisis, political protests were often violently suppressed, as described elsewhere in this report, and there were severe restrictions on press freedoms. Such actions generally targeted pro-Ouattara supporters but pro-Gbagbo press outlets also faced increasing coercion by pro-Ouattara elements (see textbox entitled “Control of Information”). Under the Ouattara government, there have also been numerous reports of retaliation by pro-Ouattara supporters, notably targeting members of Gbagbo’s FPI political party, the headquarters of which was ransacked during recent fighting. Several pro-Gbagbo news outlets have also faced de facto limitations and engaged in security-related self-censorship. Four newspapers presenting a pro-Gbagbo perspective were reportedly not being published as of late April, and the printing presses and facilities of some had been destroyed. Journalists and publishers of such outlets have also reported being targeted by coercive threats from armed men, despite a publicly stated commitment by Ouattara government officials to ensure respect for press freedoms.39
A longer term challenge necessary for ensuring long-term peace will be disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), both of regular forces and irregular militia, and military and police-focused security sector reform (SSR). In mid-March, Ouattara decreed the establishment of the FRCI, a new military incorporating the former Forces Nouvelles and the national military formerly loyal to Gbagbo. Integrating the two forces is likely to prove challenging, as had been the case with respect to similar efforts pursued under the 2007 Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA), as discussed in Appendix 1 of this report. Some of the same issues that challenged DDR and SSR processes under the OPA—for instance, determining the selection, number, and rank of candidates who will be accorded officer status or be retired from service—are likely to pose continuing difficulties. Rivalries between FN and allied elements and those who opposed Ouattara may also cause controversy. Such rivalries may be heightened by reported current government efforts to recruit new soldiers and police, notably from among youth militia who supported Ouattara during the civil conflict.40 This action may be seen as counter-intuitive, given that key DDR-related challenges under the OPA had pertained to the need to demobilize troops, rather than to recruit new ones. The move is likely motivated, in part, by the Ouattara administration’s desire to ensure that national security forces are loyal, but may prompt charges of ethnic favoritism during a period when the government is also trying to promote national and ethno-regional unification.
Inordinate military political influence by former FN FRCI elements is another difficulty that may face the government. Ouattara may be viewed by former FN commanders as beholden to them, given that while they provided much of the military muscle that ultimately allowed him to take power, Ouattara had maintained a distanced, ambiguous stance vis-à-vis the FN prior to mid-March 2011.41 Ouattara’s selection of Prime Minister Guillaume Soro may alleviate or mediate claims that the FN may make on Ouattara, particularly in the wake of the death of Ibrahim “IB” Coulibaly (see above), who had been viewed as the most notable possible military spoiler.42
A final important short-to medium term challenge for Ouattara is the need to rebuild state legitimacy and operational capacity, including through the conduct of long-delayed legislative elections; the appointment of ethno-regionally diverse incumbents to fill numerous government posts; the reunification of the national territory and the extension of state authority throughout the north; and the centralization of the treasury. 43 These objectives, which were part of the peace and national unification process required under the 2007 Ouagadougou Political Agreement, were attempted, with very modest results, by the Gbagbo administration, as discussed in Appendix 1 of this report. The overriding post-crisis objective, national political unification, is likely to remain a key challenge for an extended period.
Ouattara will also have to counter perceptions among many Gbagbo supporters that he came to power as a result of French neo-colonial influence and related a multilateral imperialist plan. While such perceptions are, in large part, an artifact of a constant barrage of a vitriolic, highly partisan, often conspiracy-laced media barrage from state and pro-Gbagbo media outlets during the post-electoral crisis—and despite claims to the contrary by French and UNOCI officials, whose mandates in Côte d’Ivoire were repeatedly endorsed by the U.N. Security Council—they nevertheless present a potent, potentially highly divisive political problem.44
Background and Implications for the United States45
Côte d’Ivoire’s late 2010 presidential election was conducted under the terms of the 2007 Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA), the most recent in a series of partially implemented peace agreements aimed at reunifying Côte d’Ivoire, which remained largely divided between a government-controlled southern region and a rebel-controlled zone in the north during a long political stalemate that followed the outbreak of a civil war in 2002. The war, along with the political events that contributed to and followed it, is discussed in Appendix B.
The post-electoral crisis and conflict directly threatened long-standing U.S. and international efforts to support a transition to peace, political stability, and democratic governance in Côte d’Ivoire, which are prerequisites for long-term socioeconomic development in Côte d’Ivoire, another key U.S. bilateral objective. While the crisis did not directly affect vital U.S. national interests, the country remained an important economic hub in the region, and the effects of a sustained armed conflict would likely have had far-reaching negative economic and humanitarian impacts in West Africa. Also indirectly at stake were broad, long-term U.S. efforts to ensure regional political stability, peace, democratic and accountable governance, state capacity-building, and economic growth in West Africa—along with several billion dollars worth of investments that the United States has made in the sub-region to achieve these goals.
The United States has supported the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire since 2002, both politically and financially, with funding appropriated by Congress. It aided in the 2003 deployment of the former Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (ECOMICI), a military intervention force. It also contributed 22% of the cost of a 2003-2004 U.N. military monitoring and political mission, the U.N. Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI), and continues to fund about 27% of the cost of the ongoing U.N. Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), a multi-faceted peacekeeping mission that succeeded MINUCI.
Côte d’Ivoire: Country Background
Côte d’Ivoire, a former French West African colony of 21.1 million people that is nearly as large as New Mexico, was politically stable for most of its post-independence period. It had among the strongest economies in the region, attracted significant foreign investment, notably from France, and was a top world producer of cocoa and coffee, among other exports. It remains the world’s largest cocoa producer. Its economic success was built on pro-agricultural policies, often favorable export prices, expanding production, and the labor, in the southern cocoa belt, of migrants from its northern regions and northern neighbors. They worked cheaply in exchange for jobs, land, and farming rights in the south, where a dynamic multi-ethnic society evolved. Significant numbers of military officers were integrated into provincial civilian administration, and promotion through the ranks was reportedly dependant on political loyalty. The military played no central institutional role in domestic affairs, however, and did not threaten the ruling regime. National defense was largely entrusted to France, with which Côte d’Ivoire maintained a mutual defense pact, among other defense agreements. These outcomes were largely the legacy of Félix Houphouët-Boigny, president from 1960 until his death in 1993. His policies emphasized social inclusion, cooperation, and reinvestment of national wealth in the economy. His semi-authoritarian-style regime was marked by stability, and although it coercively suppressed political opposition parties, a transition to multi-party politics occurred late in his tenure.
In the mid-1980s, calls for democratization, episodic social unrest, and political tensions emerged, spurred by long-term cocoa price and production declines, growing national debt, austerity measures, and decreasing access to new tree cropping land. While resource scarcities underlay these tensions, social competition increasingly began to be expressed in terms of ethnic, regional, and religious identity. The large, mostly Muslim populations of immigrant workers and northern Ivoirians resident in the south faced increasing resistance by southerners and the state to their full participation in civic life and citizenship. Houphouët-Boigny’s death generated rivalries over political power and leadership succession rights, and his successor, Henri Konan Bédié, used these divisions to rally political support, making use of a xenophobic, nationalist ideology known as Ivoirité. It defined southerners as “authentic” Ivoirians, in opposition to “circumstantial” ones, that is, northerners and immigrants. It helped fuel increasingly volatile national politics encompassing electoral competition; military, student, and labor unrest; conflict over land rights; and periodic mass protests, some violent, over economic issues. These developments also presaged subsequent political developments: the ouster of Bédié in a 1999 military coup by General Robert Guéï; the election in 2000 of Laurent Gbagbo, the current president; and a 2002 military rebellion which led to a civil war, dividing the country between a rebel-held north and a government-controlled south, and prompting a lengthy, ongoing political impasse over how to reunify the country. A series of internationally supported peace accords, the most recent signed in 2007, laid out a roadmap for disarmament, national reunification, and elections leading to a return to democratic governance after years of political crisis, but all remained only partially implemented.
On November 28, 2010, a presidential election runoff vote was held between the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, and former Prime Minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara, the two candidates who had garnered the most votes, 38% and 32%, respectively, in a generally peaceful but long-delayed first-round presidential poll held on October 31, 2010. Both candidates claimed to have won the runoff vote and separately inaugurated themselves as president and appointed cabinets, forming rival governments. Both claimed to exercise national executive authority over state institutions and took steps to consolidate their control.
Competing Electoral Victory Claims
Ouattara, popularly known by his initials, ADO (pronounced ahh-doh by Ivoirians), based his victory claim on the U.N.-certified runoff results announced by Côte d’Ivoire’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). These showed that he won the election with 54.1% of votes cast, primarily by a predominantly Muslim, northern electorate, augmented by portions of the ethnic Akan-centered political base of the candidate who took third-place in the first round, Henri Konan Bédié, a former head of state. The results showed Gbagbo winning 45.9% of votes, mostly drawn from the south, notably including Krou ethnic group areas in the south-center and west, some central-east Akan areas, and southeastern Lagoon ethnic group areas. Most of the international community, including the United States, endorsed the IEC poll results as accurate and authoritative, and demanded that Gbagbo to accept them and cede the presidency to Ouattara.46 Gbagbo, however, appealed the IEC decision to Côte d’Ivoire’s Constitutional Council—stacked with members mostly nominated by Gbagbo or his close ally, Mamadou Koulibaly, the President of the National Assembly—which reviewed and annulled it.47 Citing voting irregularities, electoral violence, and a failure by the IEC to formally announce poll results within a legally mandated three-day period, the Council nullified poll results in seven northern departments and proclaimed Gbagbo president. It ruled that he had received 51.5% of votes, against 48.6% for Ouattara. The Council’s decision allocated 2.05 million votes to Gbagbo (52,518 more votes than he had garnered during the first round), while it awarded Ouattara 1.94 million votes (544,492 fewer votes than he had won during the first round).48
Gbagbo, citing the Constitutional Council’s constitutionally authorized decision, asserted that he was the legally elected president and has rejected international calls to step down. His victory claim was widely rejected internationally, however, because the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General’s (SRSG) for Côte d’Ivoire, Choi Young-Jin—based on an independent tally process carried out entirely separately but in parallel to that undertaken by the IEC—”certified the outcome of the second round of the presidential election, as announced by the … IEC, confirming Mr. Ouattara as the winner.”49 SRSG Choi concluded that, based on his certification, which was “conducted without regard to the methods used and result proclaimed by either the IEC or the Constitutional Council … the Ivorian people have chosen Mr. Alassane Ouattara with an irrefutable margin as the winner over Mr. Laurent Gbagbo.” Gbagbo’s claim was also rejected because Choi, after closely examining the Constitutional Council’s proclamation negating the IEC decision “certified that … [it] was not based on facts.”50
The decision of the Constitutional Council was widely viewed internationally and by the Ivorian opposition as having been motivated by partisan bias. The council’s decision was preceded by what appears to have been a coordinated effort by Gbagbo supporters to discredit selected runoff poll results before they were announced by the IEC—once it had become clear, based on partial preliminary poll results, that Gbagbo would likely not win the poll—and to disrupt or extend past the three-day deadline IEC validation of the results, creating a rationale for the council’s review and rejection of the IEC’s determination. On December 1, a Gbagbo-nominated IEC member, Damana Adia Pickass, seized and tore up the provisional IEC results on live television just as the IEC spokesman, Bamba Yacouba, was about to publicly announce them. The incident disrupted the workings of the IEC and reportedly caused it to miss its legal deadline for announcing the results, creating the basis for council review.51
The council’s decision was also viewed skeptically because it resulted in the statistically highly unlikely annulment of the 597,010 votes, a number equivalent to 10.4% of all registered voters or 13% of all votes cast during the runoff.52 Furthermore, all of the annulled districts were located in major population zones of in northern Côte d’Ivoire, which was considered an Ouattara electoral stronghold and was largely controlled by the northern rebel Forces Nouvelles. Some observers also contend that under Article 64 of the national electoral code, the council had the authority to cancel the entire election, but not part of it, and to order new elections in the case of a cancellation. The president of the council, however, has contended that electoral precedent gave the council the authority to order a partial cancellation; he cited as the basis of such authority the partial cancellation of 1995 presidential election results. He has also contended that new elections were not necessary because only 13% of votes were affected—even though the cancellation of these votes had the material effect of reversing the election’s outcome—and asserted that a new election would only have been required if 30%-40% of votes had been dismissed.53 Appendix A, “Background on the Election,” discusses the first and second round polls and the lengthy, highly contested peace and pre-election processes that preceded it.
U.N. Certification of Election Process
SRSG Choi was designated to serve as an independent election certifier of the presidential election by the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), in accordance with several UNSC resolutions, most notably Resolution 1765, of July 16, 2007, underpinned by a request of the Ivorian signatories of the 2005 Pretoria Agreement, as amended.54 The Pretoria Agreement was one of several partially implemented peace agreements that were incorporated by reference into the March 4, 2007, Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA).55 The electoral preparation processes that preceded and enabled the October/November presidential poll to be held were carried out in accordance with the OPA. Choi certified all the key stages of the pre-poll day electoral process based upon a framework and criteria designed in consultation with all the Ivoirian parties and other stakeholders, such as the U.N. Security Council and the OPA Facilitator, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso.
Choi, who in his certification statement declared that “the second round of the election was … generally conducted in a democratic climate,” rejected what he described as the “two essential arguments” informing the Constitutional Council’s decision. The first related to “the use of violence in nine departments in the North which prevented people from voting.” He rejected this contention on the basis that the overall voter participation rate of 81% indicated that there was not “sufficient violence to prevent people from voting.” He also noted that a UNOCI aggregation of “all the reports on violence” indicating the “intensity, frequency and location of violence” showed that “there were fewer violent acts in the North [where the Council rejected seven districts] than in the West.” A mapping of election violence and electoral irregularities produced by the Ivorian media outlet Abidjan.net indicates that such incidents were less frequent in the north than in southern and western regions and other areas where returns were favorable to Gbagbo and were not dismissed by the Constitutional Council. Choi also later asserted that while his certification of the runoff vote had taken into account all claims lodged by Gbagbo, the Constitutional Council had taken into account complaints not made by Gbagbo and cancelled results from departments where he had not contested the voting results or process.56
The IEC’s voter participation figures bore out the assertion that the average voter participation rate was as high in northern areas at issue as in most other areas of the country, and surpassed those in several southern regions. Choi also rejected the council’s second core rationale for overturning the IEC’s decision, which focused on allegations that “the tally sheets in [ … some] departments … lacked the signature of the presidential camp’s representatives.” He rejected this contention on the basis that he had “reviewed all the tally sheets in the concerned departments and eliminated all those which lacked the signature of President Gbagbo’s representatives,” and stated that the “upshot was that, even such an exercise did not alter in any significant way the outcome of the second round.”57 He later reported that 10% of tally sheets, corresponding to about 60,000 votes, were not signed by party representatives of Gbagbo, a number too small to materially affect the electoral outcome. He also stated that such party signatures were not legally required; under the Ivoirian electoral code, he stated, only the signatures of the President and assessors of local polling offices are required to certify the tally sheets.58
International Recognition of Ouattara Resisted by Gbagbo
SRSG Choi’s certification of the IEC-announced runoff results and the build-up of international pressure on Gbagbo to stand down infuriated President Gbagbo and his political supporters and ratcheted up political tension and violence (see “Political Tension and Violence,” below.) The Gbagbo government asserted that the international community’s rejection of the Constitutional Council’s decision and its efforts to force him to concede the presidency infringe on Ivorian national sovereignty and the constitutional rule of law—even though the Gbagbo government, among other signatories of the 2007 and prior peace agreements, had agreed to the United Nations’ electoral certification mandate.59 The Gbagbo government accused UNOCI of collaborating with the rebel FN and on December 18 demanded that UNOCI peacekeepers—along with a French force that supports UNOCI—immediately leave the country.60 On December 20, the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) rejected the demand by extending the mandate UNOCI until June 30, 2011, and authorizing a temporary plus-up of its size. A U.N. spokesman was quoted as stating that Gbagbo’s call was irrelevant and without effect because he was not recognized by the United Nations, African regional organizations, or most governments as the duly elected leader of Côte d’Ivoire.61 Ouattara supports a continuing UNOCI role. On March 10, after Ouattara had departed Côte d’Ivoire in a U.N. aircraft to attend an African Union meeting in Ethiopia, Gbagbo ordered a ban on flights by U.N. and French military aircraft. The order was rejected as illegitimate by the United Nations and had no practical effect.62
In late January 2011, UNOCI had an authorized strength, through mid-2011, of 10,650 personnel, but had not fielded this large a contingent; it had a deployed field strength of 9,024 troops and police. The mission has been temporarily supplemented by several hundred additional troops from the neighboring U.N. Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). It was attempting to obtain additional troops to meet its authorized personnel cap.63 UNOCI is a multi-faceted mission. It monitors military aspects of peace accords and an arms embargo; assists with disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of armed groups and parties to the conflict; provides support for security sector reform, humanitarian aid deliveries, the re-establishment of state administration and law and order; adherence to human rights laws; aids efforts to conduct free and fair elections and related processes of citizen identification and voter registration; and protects U.N. personnel and assets. U.N. sanctions, including diamond export and arms import embargoes and a selective travel ban and assets freeze also were imposed in order to spur the conflict resolution process. In early March, two helicopter gunships arrived, and a third was en route; they were seen as enabling UNOCI to more forcefully address military attacks on its forces or persons or property under its protection.
The Gbagbo government and its supporters took an uncompromising stance with regard to what they saw as Gbagbo’s legally binding, incontrovertible electoral win. They pursued diverse efforts to ensure that he remains president. These efforts included attempts to ensure support among civil servants and the military by asserting control over various revenue and credit streams to ensure salary payments; attempts to eject UNOCI and impede its operations; violent raids on opposition strongholds; and pursuit of an international public relations campaign to promote the Gbagbo case.
The public relations campaign included a grassroots media outreach effort by Gbagbo supporters, who distributed government and pro-Gbagbo press articles and blogs, in some cases promoting vitriolic rumors and conspiracy theories. The latter included various alleged French and/or foreign mercenary-backed plans to oust Gbagbo, in some cases with putative U.S. assistance, and allegations of military collusion between the FN and UNOCI. Coverage of such alleged collusion reportedly featured prominently and frequently on state TV and other pro-Gbagbo media, part of what the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights described as “an intensive and systematic campaign” by state-owned radio-television (RTI) to promote “xenophobic messages inciting hatred and violence [and … ] religious and ethnic division between the north and the south” and “intolerance and hatred against the UN, the AU, ECOWAS, the facilitator of the Ivorian dialogue, as well as non-LMP leaders and supporters [i.e., persons who do not support Gbagbo ].”64
France’s Military Presence in Côte d’Ivoire
France has been active in the Ivoirian peace process since the start of the 2002 conflict. France’s Operation Licorne, formed in October 2002, was initially made up of French forces already present in Côte d’Ivoire under long-standing bilateral mutual protection military accords. The force’s initial mission was to protect French citizens and interests in Côte d’Ivoire. It also aided other foreign nationals, including Americans, many of whom French forces evacuated from the country in late 2002. In December 2002, the French force began to act as a “blockade” force between the north-south line dividing the national army and rebel fighters in western Côte d’Ivoire. In February 2003, Operation Licorne was authorized by the U.N. Security Council (per Resolution 1464), along with a now-defunct ECOWAS force later known as ECOMICI, to guarantee the security and freedom of movement of their personnel, protect civilians facing immediate threats, as feasible.
Operation Licorne helped suppress an attempted Ivorian government resumption of the armed conflict in November 2004 after the air force, attempting to target FN positions, attacked a French post in Bouaké, in northern Côte d’Ivoire, resulting in nine French deaths and the killing of a U.S. civilian. The French retaliated by bombing the Ivorian air force, destroying almost all of it. Licorne was also involved in protecting French citizens and property during violent riots that targeted UNOCI and French troops and civilians after the attempted resumption of conflict.
Licorne, which at its largest size included 4,000 personnel and later dramatically reduced, was reinforced during the crisis, during which it consisted of about 1,650 based mostly in Abidjan. Post-crisis plans call for it to be reduced in size, to a force strength of about 900 troops. Licorne conducts patrols in Abidjan, some with UNOCI forces, and provides technical support, primarily maintenance, to UNOCI. It is also mandated with protecting a reported 15,000 French citizens resident in Côte d’Ivoire. The Licorne force includes mechanized infantry, military police trained in riot control, engineers, and a special forces detachment. It operates eight helicopters and is backed by Operation Corymbe, a standing contingent French naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea comprised of an amphibious helicopter carrier equipped with a 50-bed hospital, and can be reinforced on as-needed basis by French standby forces based in Gabon and Senegal.65
The Gbagbo camp’s information campaign also employed the use of official Ivorian government websites and foreign lobbyists to make the government’s case. In the United States, a short-lived, soon-abandoned effort by Lanny J. Davis, a Washington lobbyist and former special counsel to former President William J. Clinton, garnered substantial attention.66 To counter the Gbagbo side’s efforts and promote its views on various issues, the Ouattara government hired two U.S. firms to represent its views and interests in the United States.67 It also reportedly established a television station that broadcasts from the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, where the Ouattara government was based and resides under the protection of a reported 800 UNOCI troops.68
Gbagbo also pursued a series of alternative actions that might have allowed him to remain a key government leader if he was forced to cede the presidency. He suggested that he might be willing to entertain a negotiated solution to the crisis and called for Ouattara and himself to “sit down and discuss” a way out of the crisis with him.69 A key Gbagbo ally suggested that a potential outcome of such negotiations might include a power-sharing deal, such as the formation of a government of national unity (GNU), although ECOWAS and other international interlocutors—including the United States—rejected such an outcome. The Ouattara camp rejected the possibility of a GNU until January 10, when the Ivoirian ambassador to the United Nations, an Ouattara appointee, stated that Ouattara would be willing to form a unity government that would include members of Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party, if Gbagbo agreed to step down and recognize Ouattara as the legitimately elected leader of Côte d’Ivoire.70
Gbagbo also invited renewed international mediation to negotiate a resolution of the crisis (see “Regional Diplomacy,” below). On December 21, he addressed the Ivorian nation on TV and stated that he was “ready—respecting the constitution, Ivorian laws and the rules that we freely set for ourselves—to welcome a committee of evaluation on the post-election crisis in Ivory Coast.” He stated that such an assessment should be led by the African Union, with the participation of the United Nations, EU, ECOWAS, the Arab League, United States, Russia, China, and “Ivoirians of goodwill.”71 The United States, along with most major governments and international organizations, rejected Gbagbo’s proposal, asserting that such an evaluation “has already been done,” by the IEC and through the U.N. certification process. In discussions with a visiting ECOWAS heads of state in late December, Gbagbo also reportedly demanded a vote recount and, were he to depart his post, a grant of amnesty for any criminal charges that he might face as a result of post-electoral human rights abuses associated with his control over state institutions and security forces and his refusal to cede the presidency.72
Control of Information
In addition to asserting its case internationally and suppressing ant-Gbagbo demonstrations, the Gbagbo administration undertook efforts to control the flow of information reaching the Ivorian population immediately after the disputed runoff. On December 2, after the IEC’s announcement of Ouattara’s electoral win, the National Council of Audiovisual Communication (CNCA), which regulates media broadcasting, banned coverage of the Ivorian political crises by foreign radio and TV channels in the country, as well as the U.N.-run ONUCI FM. It also jammed selected radio broadcasts, including ONUCI FM, and in February 2011 unsuccessfully ordered it off the air. It enacted the TV ban by ordering the local affiliate of the French satellite TV services provider Canal+ to suspend targeted transmissions, and Canal+ complied with the order. SMS cell phone text messaging services were also suspended after the runoff. The two main TV stations, both state-owned, also broadcast content favorable to Gbagbo and critical of UNOCI, and certain foreign governments, such as those of France and the United States.
Contention over control of media has involved violence in some cases. One of the most notorious post-elections human rights abuse cases involved a December 16 attempt by a mass of pro-Ouattara demonstrators to take over Radiodiffision Télévision Ivorienne (RTI), the state media broadcaster, which has been broadcasting stridently pro-Gbagbo messages since the election. The crowd’s action was violently suppressed by security forces, which opened fire on the crowd, killing an estimated 20 or more persons and injuring many more. RTI has also been the target of attempts to hinder broadcasts; in late December, its TV signal was not available in some areas of the country, and was dropped from satellite rebroadcast in the West Africa sub-region.73
There were also raids on numerous opposition-affiliated newspapers and printing presses, and at least nine foreign journalists were detained during the post-electoral period. Local journalists also faced coercive threats, detention, and beating by security forces. Some of the Gbagbo government’s actions were partially reversed; opposition newspapers were publishing, and some formerly jammed banned radio stations began broadcasting anew. There were also new incidents of censorship and indications that the Gbagbo administration was seeking to impose greater regulatory control over the press. Harassment of and threats against journalists also continued, prompting nine independent or pro-Ouattara newspapers to suspend operations in early March 2011, although eight later resumed operation. Ouattara supporters were also accused by a the international and Ivoirian branches of the Committee to Protect Journalists of taking actions to “exact reprisals on their critics in the press,” and pro-Ouattara press outlets, like those favorable to Gbagbo, were accused of publishing highly partisan, biased, and often false or conspiracy-centered information.74
Political Tension and Violence
The contested election outcome heightened political tension and sparked political violence, including numerous killings in Côte d’Ivoire, and put the self-proclaimed Gbagbo government at odds with the U.N. Security Council, regional organizations, and key donor governments involved in monitoring, vetting, or helping to administer the electoral process. President Gbagbo and his administration were the targets of intense and wide-ranging diplomatic, political, financial, and threatened military international pressure aimed at forcing Gbagbo to concede the election and had state power over to Ouattara (see “International Reactions,” below)
According to UNOCI, the security situation in the weeks after the runoff were “very tense and unpredictable;” as a result, the United Nations temporarily relocated its non-essential staff to Gambia on December 6, 2010.75 In December, there were limited armed clashes between security forces that support each camp—which reportedly include the bulk of the national military and police forces, in the case of Gbagbo, and the military wing of the rebel FN in the case of Ouattara. The outer perimeter of the U.S. embassy in Abidjan was slightly damaged by “an errant rocket-propelled grenade” during one armed exchange.76 There were also a spate of extrajudicial killings, other human rights abuses by state security forces during operations to suppress public demonstrations by Ouattara supporters, as well as attacks on and abductions of Ouattara and Gbagbo partisans by groups of unidentified armed men, described as “death squads.”
Casualties and Rising Threat Level
As of March 24, 2011, U.N. estimates had confirmed at least 462 post-electoral political killings by supporters of both presidential claimants, and killings, rapes, and abductions were all increasing.77 The United Nations attributed most of these deaths to “extra-judicial killings committed by elements of the security forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo.” Most were related to post-elections and related political tension, although some were related to communal clashes over issues that, while not directly tied to the electoral outcome and having unrelated proximate causes, were likely aggravated by unresolved political issues, such as contended land or residency rights.78 The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, also documented continuing reports of abductions, illegal detention and attacks against civilians. All of these developments were described in a report by Pillay on the human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire through January 31, 2011.79 On March 3, state security forces killed seven unarmed female protesters; six died on-site and one at a hospital after the shootings. Video of the fatal protest was distributed on the Internet. Part of a follow-up protest was fired on by state security forces, resulting in four fatalities, and a smaller, related rally was broken up by pro-Gbagbo youth militants “armed with machetes and firing automatic weapons into the air.”80 President Obama and other top U.S. officials condemned the shootings and called for the perpetrators of this and other violence to be held to account for their actions. Similarly, France called for a U.N. inquiry into the ongoing political violence in Côte d’Ivoire.81 In late March, a residential area in Abidjan was shelled, resulting in between 25 and 30 deaths.
The total number of fatalities and abuses resulting from post-electoral violence was likely higher than the total documented by the United Nations; additional killings, detentions, and abuses were reported prior to the period covered by the U.N. assessment, and later continued. In addition, the national military reportedly did not release numbers of its own casualties or civilians killed by its members.82 Reporting by non-governmental human rights monitoring groups, such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI), mirrors U.N. findings regarding a post-electoral rise in human rights abuses. HRW and AI, in particular, drew attention to a rise in apparently politically motivated use of rape as a means of intimidation.83 In mid-March 2011, HRW stated that
The three-month campaign of organized violence by security forces under the control of Laurent Gbagbo and militias that support him gives every indication of amounting to crimes against humanity. [ … ] The killing of civilians by pro-Ouattara forces, at times with apparent ethnic or political motivation, also risks becoming crimes against humanity should they become widespread or systematic.84
There were also reports of mass graves. UNOCI attempted to investigate reports of three such graves, one in Abidjan, one in the south-central town of Gagnoa, near Gbagbo’s place of origin, and one in the town of Daloa, but was prevented from accessing the sites by state security forces, some in mufti. This, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stated, was a “clear violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.”
Chronology: Key Events Leading to the Current Crisis in Côte d’Ivoire
1960: Côte d’Ivoire becomes independent of France under President Felix Houphouët-Boigny, who holds power until his death in 1993. His semi-authoritarian regime creates a liberal, market-based and prosperous economy in south.
1990: Opposition parties legalized; Houphouët-Boigny wins Côte d’Ivoire’s first multiparty presidential election, beating Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI).
1993: Henri Konan Bédié succeeds Houphouët-Boigny as president.
1995: Bédié re-elected in poll boycotted by opposition parties protesting candidacy restrictions and reported electoral manipulation.
1998: Constitutional changes affecting electoral laws, seen as favorable to the incumbent, passed.
1999: In July, former Prime Minster Alassane Ouattara returns home to vie against Bédié for president in 2000. His bid highlights ethnic, regional, and religious political divisions within the national polity. In December, a military pay protest turns into a coup led by Robert Guéï, ousting Bédié.
2000: Throughout year, electoral tensions rise, notably regarding national identity card distribution process, reported harassment of northerners, and presidential candidacy of Guéï. Several incidents of military restiveness occur, and use of military in domestic crime suppression leads to abuses. Constitutional changes approved by July referendum, widely boycotted in north, requiring both parents of presidential candidates be Ivoirian-born citizens.
State of emergency imposed before widely boycotted presidential election on October 22. Vote count is suspended and Guéï claims to have won the election. Gbagbo, the majority vote winner, organizes anti-Guéï protests. Guéï flees. Rival political party post-poll violence ensues, but Gbagbo’s win is ratified by Supreme Court. Controversial legislative election held in late 2000, but violence over claimed political disenfranchisement forces poll suspension in north.
2001: Government, albeit criticized over its human rights and judicial records, sponsors inter-party National Reconciliation Forum.
2002: In September, a military pay and conditions-of-service mutiny by soldiers, primarily of northern origins, turns into attempted coup d’état. After clashes with loyalist forces in south, rebel units withdraw and rapidly take control of the northern half of the country. They form a political movement, later called the Forces Nouvelles, and eventually establish a basic administrative state in areas they control. Fighting decreases in late 2002 but continues into early 2003. Regional and international peace mediation ensues.
2003-2010: A series of partially implemented key peace accords, each building on elements of preceding ones, signed: the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement (2003); the Accra III Agreement (2004); the Pretoria Agreement (2005); and Ouagadougou Political Agreement (2007). Elections are repeatedly delayed due to contestation over peace process, notably regarding the sequencing of disarmament, citizen and voter identification, and elections.
An initial U.N. political and military monitoring mission created in 2003 is replaced by the U.N. Operation in Côte d’Ivoire in April 2004. A 2004 government attempt to attack north results in nine French fatalities and one U.S. citizen death, prompting a French military retaliation. Violent anti-French protests follow.
Gbagbo’s electoral term ends in 2005, but under emergency constitutional powers, underpinned by international community support for the ongoing peace process and the formation of a unity government, he retains power, pending elections. Electoral, disarmament, and state reunification processes proceed slowly due to political disputes. Elections are finally held in late 2010, but result in a contested outcome and the current political crisis.
The rise in tension and violence prompted a number of international diplomatic missions to evacuate personnel and, in some cases, private citizens, from Côte d’Ivoire. Several governments advised their citizens not to travel to the country and to depart it if they were there. Citing “the deteriorating political and security situation … and growing anti-western sentiment” the State Department warned U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Côte d’Ivoire, and on December 20, 2010, ordered the departure of all non-emergency embassy personnel and family members.85 It also prompted large numbers of Ivoirian citizens and residents to flee to neighboring countries, primarily Liberia, as refugees, or to become internally displaced within Côte d’Ivoire. See “Humanitarian Effects and Responses,” below.
Violence Escalates and the Threat of War Rises
Extensive recent fighting in the west, Abidjan, and in a growing number of other areas starting in March signaled that a new Ivoirian civil war was under way. A growing number of indicators had previously signaled that such an outcome was a distinct possibility, and possibly “imminent.”86 An early indicator of such a possibility was the substantiation by the United Nations of reports that in the immediate post-electoral period, pro-Gbagbo troops were assisted by mercenaries from Liberia, and possibly from other countries. This was viewed as worrying because of Liberia’s history of severe wartime human rights abuses and because such irregular forces might be difficult to prosecute, for varying reasons, if they were accused of crimes. Another indicator was a reportedly sharp rise in militia recruitment by pro-Gbagbo and pro-Forces Nouvelles elements and the formation of a new pro-Gbagbo militia called the Force de Résistance et de Libération de la Côte d’Ivoire (FRLCI). In February 2011, the United Nations had reported that a nominally demobilized militia known as the Compagnie des Scorpions Guetteurs and as the Front de Libération du Grand Centre (i.e., Company of Scorpion Spotters/Watchmen or Liberation Front of the Great Center, one of a number of former pro-Gbagbo militias) has been reactivated with a mission of undertaking infiltration and reconnaissance of Forces Nouvelles areas prior to an multi-pronged attack. According to the United Nations, some pro-Gbagbo youth groups and militias were being armed. Such actions were reportedly coordinated by high-ranking state officials and pro-Gbagbo militia, youth group, and political party leaders.87
Such groups, including an ultra-nationalist, frequently xenophobic pro-Gbagbo youth group known as the Young Patriots, were reportedly coordinated with state security forces, in particular to identify and target putative opposition-affiliated “individuals to be arrested, abducted or assassinated and their residences.”88 Young Patriots, “often armed with machetes, clubs or guns,” reportedly “set up roadblocks all over the main city in Abidjan after a call by [Young Patriot] leader Blé Goudé to hunt pro-Ouattara rebels and obstruct U.N. staff, whom he accuses of backing them.” Police and other state security forces, in league with youth gangs, also reportedly looted the homes and property of multiple Ouattara government officials on March 6. Pro-Ouattara youth groups reportedly carried out similar actions, and militant supporters of both presidential claimants were, in some cases, carrying out attacks on individuals and communities based on their targets’ presumed ethnicity and putative political affiliation. There were also reports and visual media evidence documenting live burnings of beaten victims, among other atrocities.89
Foreigners also became an increasing target of pro-Gbagbo supporters angered by international rejection of Gbagbo’s claimed election and financial pressure on the Gbagbo administration, state media propaganda alleging that UNOCI and various foreign governments were collaborating with the FN, and related factors. On March 1, Young Patriots reportedly “rampaged through the business district of Abidjan … pillaging shops owned by foreigners.” United Nations staff were also reportedly “attacked and robbed by pro-Gbagbo gangs” in the week prior to the rampage.90
Fighting in Abidjan was frequent. It was reportedly first initiated by state security forces loyal to Gbagbo, which launched repeated raids on putative opposition strongholds in Abidjan in late 2010 and early 2011. These raids, which reportedly were associated with numerous extralegal detentions and extrajudicial killings, appear to be spurring retaliatory violence.91 On February 23, 2011, a security force element conducting a such raid was ambushed by counter-assailants using small arms, resulting in the deaths of between 20 and 30 members of the raiding team and an extended firefight. The assailants were not identified, but were reported to be members of a Forces Nouvelles-affiliated fighting cell that calls itself the Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples of Abobo-Anyama (MLP-2A). The militia’s name referred to the densely populated northern neighborhoods of Abobo and Anyama, where about 1.5 million residents, many northerners and foreign migrant workers, live. A similar armed anti-Gbagbo element, dubbed the “Invisible Commando,” was also reportedly active. Some prior raids were resisted by residents of the area, but the February 23 clash signaled a significant escalation in violence and the most lethal clash up until that date in Abidjan between state security forces and armed elements opposing them, assisted by local youths and some defectors form the national military. By early March, a large area of Abobo known as PK-18 was now under the control of FN-linked elements that observers viewed as supportive of Ouattara, but which may have been loyal to a former FN commander, Ibrahim “IB” Coulibaly.92
The February clashes appeared to spur a rise in such confrontations; multiple gun fights between Gbagbo and Ouattara forces reportedly occurred during the last week of February 2011, and the fighting spread to other areas of the city on March 2.93 On March 7, pro-Ouattara fighters in control of Abobo reportedly attacked a village “populated by the largely pro-Gbagbo Ebrie tribe” that is located within the Abobo area under their control, killing three persons and wounding 30.94 On March 14, following a weekend attack by pro-Gbagbo forces on Abobo aimed at expelling pro-Ouattara forces from the neighborhood, gun battles erupted for several hours in Abidjan neighborhoods south of Abobo, near the central business district and in other generally pro-Gbagbo areas, including near the home of the national army chief of staff, Phillipe Mangou. The ongoing clashes in Abidjan and elsewhere prompted Mangou to state on March 15 that pro-Gbagbo forces were prepared to go to war.95
Another key sign that rising conflict was burgeoning into a large-scale armed civil conflict was the February 25 seizure from a pro-Gbagbo militia, the Front for the Liberation of the Great West (FLGO), of several villages in western Côte d’Ivoire by FN elements. About a week later, the FN also seized additional nearby territory in the western Montagnes region and the town of Toulépleu in the neighboring Moyen-Cavally region, to the south of Montagnes, and in mid-March took control of the town of Doké 20 miles to the east. Possession of this territory—provided that the FN can hold it—would give the FN control over much of the Ivoirian border with Nimba county in neighboring Liberia, where both pro-Gbagbo and Ouattara armed elements reportedly recruited ex-combatants from the Liberian civil war. In early March, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also reported that there was “heavy fighting … in and around Duékoué on the road to Man.”96 By late March, fighting in the west had expanded toward the center and east of the country. There were reports that FN forces had taken control of two key towns, Duekoue, in the west, and the central town of Daloa, and seized two smaller towns in the east near the Ghanaian border.97 Such fighting has prompted multiple humanitarian agencies to temporarily withdraw their workers from the west.
An additional possible harbinger of resurgence of military conflict were reports of possible violations of a long-standing U.N. prohibition on the export of arms and other military materiel, notably attack helicopters, to Côte d’Ivoire; see “Possible Violations of the U.N. Arms Embargo: Recent Developments” text box, below. In late March, UNOCI reported that pro-Gbagbo state security forces “were repairing an MI-24 attack helicopter”—possibly an aircraft that had been damaged by France in 2004—and preparing multiple rocket launchers. The assertion followed reports that heavy weapons were increasingly being used within Abidjan.98
The prospect of renewed armed conflict had earlier been spurred by repeated calls by Ouattara aides for Gbagbo to be removed from office by force, and by a December 24 threat by ECOWAS to undertake such an action. While the regional body later deferred military intervention, pending further negotiation, as of mid-January 2011, the proposal remained the focus of active military planning (see section entitled “Threat of Military Intervention to Oust Gbagbo”).99 Similarly, while Ouattara has repeatedly called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis, notwithstanding the statements of his aides, in March 2010, an FN spokesman stated that the rebel movement saw “no other option but force” to make Gbagbo leave power.100
Threats to International Mandates and Accountability
The increasing tension and a rise in anti-UNOCI sentiment, which took the form of public demonstrations spurred by pro-Gbagbo media and party militants, resulted in multiple physical attacks on UNOCI peacekeepers and has hindered their movement. In several cases, such actions were aimed at interfering with UNOCI protection of the Ouattara government, which was based in the Golf Hotel in Abidjan. On February 28, 2011, pro-Gbagbo youth reportedly abducted two UNOCI peacekeepers, who were then detained at a state Republican Guard base for several hours before being released.101 Such actions prompted U.N. Secretary-General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon to warn that
any attack on UN forces will be an attack on the international community and those responsible for these actions will be held accountable. Any continued actions obstructing and constricting UN operations are similarly unacceptable. UNOCI will fulfill its mandate and will continue to monitor and document any human rights violations, incitement to hatred and violence, or attacks on UN peacekeepers. There will be consequences for those who have perpetrated or orchestrated any such actions or do so in the future.102
The threat also prompted the UNSC to increase the size of UNOCI in early 2011 (see text box entitled “UNOCI,” above). In late December, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, stating that “no longer can heads of State, and other actors … commit atrocious violations and get away with it,” wrote to Gbagbo “reminding him of his duty under international law to refrain from committing, ordering, inciting, instigating or standing by in tacit approval of rights violations.” Similar letters were sent to the heads of key Ivorian security services.103 The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor was reportedly monitoring violence against civilians and against UNOCI peacekeepers, as well as speech advocating or resulting in mass violence, and has threatened to prosecute those who, under international law, abet or cause violence.104 He specifically cited Charles Blé Goudé as an example of a person whose public speech might, if warranted, potentially be prosecuted. Blé Goudé, Gbagbo’s Minister of Youth, is a leader of some of Gbagbo’s most militant supporters.105
In response to the rising danger faced by UNOCI peacekeepers, including a threat by Blé Goudé to attack the Golf Hotel, Ban—reiterating a December 17 statement—warned that “UNOCI is authorized to use all necessary means to protect” its personnel, Ouattara government officials, and other civilians at the hotel. He said an attack on it “could provoke widespread violence that could reignite civil war.”106 U.N. and foreign government officials subsequently and repeatedly made similar statements.
Humanitarian Effects and Responses
As of early March 2011, rising violence in Abidjan had prompted as many as some 250,000 urban residents, primarily of the Abobo and surrounding neighborhoods of Abidjan, to flee elsewhere for safety, primarily in and around the metropolitan area. More than 60,000 persons had also been internally displaced in western Côte d’Ivoire due to fighting between the FN and pro-Gbagbo fighters. As of late March 2011, as a result of fighting in western Côte d’Ivoire, nearly 102,000 Ivoirian refugees had fled into neighboring Liberia, where they were formally registered with U.N. agencies, and more were arriving daily. There were also over 4,888 refugees in other nearby countries, including over 2,500 in Guinea, and the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) was estimated at between 700,000 and 1 million by U.N. agencies.107 The conflict was also having negative humanitarian effects in other parts of the country. In early March, electrical power to northern Côte d’Ivoire was reportedly cut for about a week as part of state military operations targeting FN-held areas—although a Gbagbo spokesperson also attributed the cuts to the financial embargo on the country. The stoppage cut off electrically pumped piped water flows, and reportedly crippled hospital operations and forced residents to use water from unsafe sources. In other parts of the country, social workers, such as teachers and health workers, were absent from work after not receiving their salaries, food and other consumer goods’ prices were spiking due to economic disruptions, and medical drug distribution was severely hampered.108
Refugee numbers in Liberia grew rapidly, but a small portion were believed to fluctuate in response to conditions in Côte d’Ivoire; household heads, for instance, sometimes return temporarily to tend to property or farms. During some periods, the rapid inflow of refugees caused the UNHCR to suspend individual registration and temporarily adopt a rapid emergency registration system. An anticipated continuing large inflow of refugees prompted the UNHCR to contingently plan to address the emergency needs of 250,000 refugees and to identify additional potential camps and host communities where this population could stay. Such refugee and IDP inflows severely strained local communities’ supplies of food and water.109 Key challenges included protection, “registration and documentation of a very mobile population next to porous borders” in an insecure, widely dispersed, inaccessible rural zone; and the need to address “vulnerabilities in an environment already characterized by limited access to basic services for local populations.” Notwithstanding these challenges, the UNHCR and the World Food Program (WFP), together with Liberian authorities and a variety of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), were channeling refugees to camps and providing water, sanitation, and emergency food and shelter to them. The UNHCR also attempted to ensure that a humanitarian corridor be established to enable civilians to reach safer place and to allow humanitarian agency access to affected populations.110 The United States was continuing to channel aid toward these emergency humanitarian needs.
U.S. Humanitarian Assistance
U.S. assistance for refugees and communities hosting refugee populations generated by the Ivoirian crisis or facing resource constraints due to refugee influxes is being provided collaboratively by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The State Department’s Population, Refugees, and Migration Bureau (PRM) is providing refugee aid in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, and in other countries in the region, while USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and USAID’s country mission, USAID/Liberia, are assisting host and other affected communities in Liberia. OFDA was expected to provide additional assistance in Côte d’Ivoire in response to a mid-March complex emergency disaster declaration. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) is providing food aid for both refugees and host communities, which are typically poor, in both Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. The overall value of recent, current, or planned U.S. emergency humanitarian responses to the Ivoirian crisis totaled about $33.73 million as of mid-April. Much of this aid was expected to be channeled through U.N. or other international humanitarian organizations, significantly boosting funding for the overall humanitarian response.
On January 4, 2011, following a late 2010 field assessment of the impact of Ivoirian refugees inflows on local Liberian host communities, the U.S. ambassador to Liberia issued a complex emergency disaster declaration. This action enabled the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide aid these communities, worth an initial $100,000. In mid-March, OFDA was reviewing proposals from several NGOs focused on possible increases in assistance for Liberian host communities impacted by the refugee influx. OFDA has separately provided additional assistance to UNICEF in support of emergency services for host communities. OFDA was expected to provide additional assistance in Côte d’Ivoire, pending a field-based needs assessment, in response to the March 13 declaration of a complex disaster emergency by the U.S. ambassador in Abidjan.111
On March 7, 2011, President Obama authorized PRM to provide $12.6 million in FY2011 Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) to address “unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs … related to humanitarian needs resulting from the recent unrest in Côte d’Ivoire.”112 This PRM-administered ERMA assistance was allocated to support refugee assistance in Liberia and in Côte d’Ivoire and neighboring countries other than Liberia.113
FFP has provided additional assistance in Liberia in support of WFP emergency operations (EMOPs) in support of refugees and targeted segments of host communities, and in early March had provisionally approved an additional $7.5 million in such aid in Liberia. At that time, it had also provisionally approved $4.5 million for a WFP EMOP in Côte d’Ivoire focused on support for IDP and host community needs. USAID/Liberia has scaled up existing health programs in communities affected by Ivoirian refugee inflows, primarily to address respiratory and digestive illness treatment and the provision of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services.114
Much of the international community—with at least one exception and some qualifications among African governments—rejected Gbagbo’s claim of electoral victory and endorsed Ouattara as the legally elected president of Côte d’Ivoire. In response to Gbagbo’s refusal to cede the presidency to his rival, the international community pursued a range of coordinated and bilateral efforts aimed at forcing him to abide by the results of the election. These included diplomatic isolation and non-recognition of the Gbagbo government; personal travel and financial sanctions against members of the regime; constriction of credit and access to state financial assets; and the threat of military action to enforce the electoral outcome. In late March there were calls for the imposition of expanded U.N. and European Union sanctions targeting the Gbagbo regime.
International Multilateral and Bilateral Responses
On December 7, 2010, the regional body ECOWAS, endorsing the IEC-announced poll results as certified SRSG Choi, recognized Ouattara as President-elect of Côte d’Ivoire and called on Gbagbo to abide by the results “and to yield power without delay,” and suspended Côte d’Ivoire’s participation in the organization “until further notice.”115 On December 9, the AU Commission (AUC) Peace and Security Council (PSC)—which typically defer to sub-regional bodies’ decisions regarding events in their jurisdictions—endorsed the December 7 ECOWAS decision on Côte d’Ivoire and suspended the participation of the country “in all AU activities, until such a time [as] the democratically elected President effectively assumes State power.”116
The UNSC, in turn, endorsed the decisions of ECOWAS and the AU. On December 8, a day after a UNSC meeting in which the council heard the report of SRSG Choi on the election,117 the UNSC released a press statement on Côte d’Ivoire in which council members, “in view of” the ECOWAS endorsement of “Ouattara as President-elect,” called on “all stakeholders to respect the outcome of the election.”118
Following a December 18 statement by a U.N. Peacekeeping Operations Department spokesman denying Gbagbo’s status as president and the U.N. Security Council’s implicit recognition his status two days later, on December 23, the 192 member states of the United Nations officially recognized Ouattara as the legal president. Acting through a consensus vote, the U.N. General Assembly accepted Ouattara’s election by formally recognizing a team of diplomats sent by Ouattara to be the country’s official representatives. The new Ivorian U.N. ambassador is Youssouf Bamba, a veteran diplomat, who officially took up his post on December 29.119
Several governments that recognized Ouattara’s election also bilaterally dropped recognition of the Gbagbo government; Ouattara has written to at least 20 governments requesting such an action. In late December, as pro-Ouattara protesters occupied the Ivorian embassy in Paris, the French government stated that it had “taken note” of Ouattara’s dismissal of the Gbagbo-designated ambassador to France, and pledged to recognize an envoy named by Ouattara. The French government also reportedly “grounded a plane belonging to Gbagbo at an airport in France in response to a request by” Ouattara.120 Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), Belgium, and several other EU countries also announced that they would only accept ambassadors named by Ouattara.121
The Gbagbo government attempted to retaliate against some governments that dropped recognition of his government and rejected his envoys by doing the same in return. It declared the British, Canadian, and French ambassadors persona non-grata and asked them to leave the country. Canada and France responded by saying the request was without merit as Canada does not recognize Gbagbo as president, while the UK ambassador was not immediately affected, as he is regionally based, in Accra, Ghana.122
The AU and ECOWAS each held several high-level meetings to address the crisis and dispatched multiple diplomatic delegations to Côte d’Ivoire in order to diffuse tensions and convince Gbagbo to respect the results of the election and cede the presidency. The most recent AU effort to end the crisis was undertaken by a heads of state panel, dubbed the “Panel of Five,” advised by a team of technical experts led by AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra. The panel was viewed as holding a charge that would test the credibility of the AU vis-à-vis the Ivoirian crisis and the strength of its dedication to democratic principles, given that prior regional mediation efforts to resolve the crisis and to ensure Ouattara’s effective assumption of executive powers, in accordance with AU and ECOWAS endorsements of his election, had produced few tangible results.123
AU and ECOWAS: Mediation Missions Prior to the High-Level Panel
Prior to the AU’s appointment in late January 2011 of the Panel of Five, ECOWAS and the AU had deployed a series of meditation missions aimed at resolving the crisis. On December 4, the same day on which Gbagbo and Ouattara each inaugurated themselves, the chair of African Union Commission, Jean Ping, requested that former South African President Thabo Mbeki travel to Abidjan to mediate a peaceful outcome to the dispute between the two men. Mbeki—a principal behind the signing of the 2005 Pretoria Agreement, an antecedent to the OPA of 2007—flew to Côte d’Ivoire the next day and was permitted to land, even though the country’s borders were closed due to post-electoral violence. He met SRSG Choi and the two election rivals separately, but failed to change the stance of either man and left the country after making a generic call for peace and democracy, but without issuing a major statement.124
Other indications of discord among AU member states had included Gambia’s recognition of the legality of Gbagbo’s election and its opposition to a possible ECOWAS military intervention and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s call for an investigation of the poll process and rejection of the validity of international recognition of Ouattara and rejection of Gbagbo’s claimed win. Some press reports had also implied that statements of support for a negotiated end to the crisis and in opposition to regional military intervention in Côte d’Ivoire by Angola, traditionally seen as a strong Gbagbo ally, signaled Angola’s backing for Gbagbo. Angola, however, has not overtly backed Gbagbo; its government has not recognized an official Ivoirian election winner, and it reportedly refused a February request from the Gbagbo administration for funding assistance. The positions of Angola and South Africa suggest that a claim by Gbagbo’s minister of foreign affairs, Alcide Djedje, that Angola, Uganda, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana support Gbagbo’s continued tenure, is overblown, or in several cases, lacks credibility.
On December 18, AU Commission chairman Ping, AU PSC chair Lamamra, and ECOWAS Commission president Gbeho met with Gbagbo. They reiterated the AU and ECOWAS position that the two organizations recognize Ouattara as president-elect, and that Gbagbo should immediately hand over power to Ouattara to prevent renewed conflict and loss of life. They also offered to help resettle Gbagbo outside of Côte d’Ivoire.125 In late December and early January 2011, ECOWAS dispatched two heads of state delegations, discussed below (see “Threat of Military Intervention to Oust Gbagbo”) to deliver a joint ECOWAS ultimatum to Gbagbo demanding that he step down be forced out by military means. The second delegation was joined by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the premier of a country that underwent its own divisive, violent election in 2007, which was resolved by an often contentious power-sharing agreement. Odinga was appointed by the AUC’s Jean Ping to monitor and help negotiate an end to the crisis on December 27, following Mbeki’s fruitless mission. Odinga had previously taken a forceful line in demanding that Gbagbo—whose electoral claims he termed a “rape of democracy”—”be forced out, even if it means by military force.” Odinga had also called for the AU to “develop teeth” instead of “sitting and lamenting all the time,” or risk becoming “irrelevant.” He reiterated his call for the use of force to oust Gbagbo after Gbagbo’s delegates rejected a March 10, 2011, AU proposal calling for Gbagbo to cede power.126 Odinga again traveled to Abidjan on January 17 for consultations which he described as being aimed at negotiating talks between the two electoral rivals, a possibility that an Ouattara aide rejected unless Gbagbo agrees to cede power. His visit was followed by a consultative visit by the AU chairman, Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika.127
AU High-Level Panel
The AU high-level panel, appointed by the AU PSC in late January 2011, was made up of the presidents of South Africa, Chad, Mauritania, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Chad, along with AUC chairman Jean Ping and ECOWAS Commission president Victor Gbeho. In early February the panel deployed its technical team to Abidjan to consult with the opposed parties and, after conferring in Mauritania, met with the parties in Abidjan on February 21, a day on which at least six persons were reported killed in a state security force raid on opposition residential areas. One panel member, Burkinabe President Blaise Compaoré, the former OPA facilitator, did not join the panel during its trip to Abidjan due a threat of attack on his person by the Young Patriots, who view him as partial toward Ouattara.
On February 28, the PSC extended the panel’s mandate until the end of March, requesting that it “formulate … a comprehensive political solution … to submit to the Ivorian parties.”128 In early March, Ping traveled to Abidjan on behalf of the panel to consult with the two presidential claimants and invited them, along with Paul Yao N’Dre, the head of the Ivoirian Constitutional Council, to a March 10 AU PSC meeting, at which the panel presented its conflict resolution findings and recommendations. Ouattara attended the meeting, held in Ethiopia, but Gbagbo did not; instead, he sent two delegates, the leader of his FPI political party, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and his foreign minister, Alcide Djedje. N’Dre did not attend. The AU high-level panel’s report, presented to the PSC at the meeting, reviewed the election, the pre-electoral process and political environment, and the post-electoral crisis, and laid out a range of recommendations for resolving it. The panel reaffirmed Ouattara’s election win and recommended that Gbagbo step down; called on the Constitutional Council to swear in Ouattara as president; recommended that a national unity government be formed; and called for the establishment of a national peace and reconciliation process based on the Ouagadougou Political Agreement.
It also found that what it termed the partisan composition and “dysfunction” of the IEC and the Constitutional Council had provided the basis for the contended electoral outcome. It reserved particular criticism, however, for the Constitutional Council; it sharply questioned the procedures by which the council had reached its determinations on the outcome of the election and the basis of the legal authority under which it had acted. The panel called especially “disturbing” the council’s decision to cancel nearly 600,000 votes, or what it said was 13% of the total, “just enough to reverse the results,” while simultaneously arguing that this action was not likely to affect the fairness of the poll. The panel also observed that former President Gbagbo had held office for a decade, a period corresponding to the maximum term that he could have served had he been constitutionally elected to two successive terms of five years—and had thus enjoyed a lengthy opportunity to promote peace and reconciliation, an outcome that the panel’s report stressed not been achieved.129
AU High-Level Panel Recommendations130
Asserting that the crisis cannot be resolved solely on the basis of a mechanical application of majority rule, the AU panel recommended that:
- Ouattara, “in consultation with the members of the Permanent Consultative Framework (PCF) of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement [OPA],” establish a Government of National Unity and Reconciliation and appoint a prime minister to head it, along with ministers of defense and of interior;
- the new government include Gbagbo supporters and members of other Ivoirian political parties and civil society, and that it establish a National Security Council (NSC) to supervise disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes, new national army, and a “High Council of the Republic (HCR), which will include the members of the PCF and other personalities, to steer and guide national reconciliation”;
- “outstanding aspects” of the OPA “and other related reforms,” in particular those relating to national reunification and security sector reform processes, be implemented “as a matter of priority”;
- the “normative and institutional framework governing elections, including the IEC and the Constitutional Council be reformed “on the basis of the broadest possible consensus and in close consultation with the HCR, building on the lesson learnt” during the 2010 election;
- legislative elections be conducted as soon as recommended elections reforms are complete;
- a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) be established “to conduct a genuine national reconciliation process”;
- an amnesty law be adopted covering “all acts and offences committed in relation with the post-electoral crisis” and providing “full immunity for all those who held the office of President of the Republic or that of Prime Minister, as well as senior officers of the Armed Forces and Security Services”; and
- that all international sanctions “imposed on Côte d’Ivoire and Ivorian personalities” be lifted “as soon as” Ouattara is sworn in, with the caveat that new sanctions be imposed on those who reject and hinder the implementation of any eventual AU-vetted crisis resolution agreement.
The panel also recommended that national reconciliation activities include a series of efforts to build trust and bridge divides created by “instrumentalization the identity issue” (i.e., the politicization of ethnicity, religion, rights of residence and citizenship) over the preceding decade,131 along with the immediate adoption of “measures … to promote calm” to ensure that:
- media “under the control of the Parties refrain from disseminating messages instigating hatred and violence”; and that
- the blockade of the Golf Hotel be immediately lifted.
Lastly, the panel called for strong international support for the implementation of any eventual agreement derived from its recommendations, to include:
- the rapid deployment of a team of AU and ECOWAS “civilian and military observers” to work in concert and in close collaboration” UNOCI to “monitor the implementation of an Agreement”; and
- the establishment of a “Monitoring Committee comprising the AU, ECOWAS and the United Nations, as well as the Parties,” to be charged with overseeing implementation of an eventual agreement.
AU Panel Recommendations: Prospects and Significance
Efforts to implement the high-level panel’s recommendations and to generate an outcome that would have been satisfactory to both sides were viewed as likely to face great difficulties because of the intransigence of the two parties. The Gbagbo camp strongly and repeatedly rejected the panel’s recommendations, asserting that they were unacceptable because they were not in accordance with the Constitutional Council’s ruling in favor of Gbagbo’s election.132 In light of Gbagbo’s posture and other indications that the two sides remained entrenched and unwilling to compromise, some press analyses on March 11 concluded that the panel’s efforts had failed. Such analyses may have been premature, since the panel’s recommendations had not been formally adopted, but they accurately underlined the poor prospects for implementation—and appeared prescient when on March 27, Ouattara rejected the appointment of José Brito, a former Cape Verde foreign affairs minister as the AU High Representative for Côte d’Ivoire. Brito was appointed to implement the panel’s recommendations, but Ouattara asserted that Brito was not suitable because he was not a former head of state and because he had alleged personal and political ties to Gbagbo.133
An additional complicating factor was Ouattara’s selective interpretation of what the panel had called for. He accepted the need or a cross-party government “in a framework of reconciliation … because I want peace,” but rejected the notion that it would, at its core, be a power-sharing government with Gbagbo or his close allies.134 He instead emphasized that he would remain firmly in control of the unity government called for by the panel and implementation of the provisions that it calls for, stating:
I will form which will include members of other parties that I will select…. It is different to say that it is a National Unity Government as if ministers will be opposed to me, that is not the case…. I will take the best people in Côte d’Ivoire to run a disaster situation [in which] … the economy is completely down and the social indicators are worse than we have seen since independence. So I want to have a strong team, a team of competent people from all parties and from the civil society but I will select them…. Gbagbo will have an honorable exit and thereafter when he comes to see me we’ll discuss that.135
Ouattara also did not appear to overtly endorse or address the panel’s other recommendations, regarding further implementation of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement, establishment of a TRC, passage of an amnesty, and related measures.
Notwithstanding these challenges, the panel was seen as having achieved a notable success by having prominently advocated a single, cohesive AU approach toward resolving the crisis. This outcome was seen as important in light of multiple press reports suggesting that splits regarding the appropriate conflict resolution strategy had emerged among AU member states, potentially threatening largely unified international efforts to resolve the crisis and providing implicit support for Gbagbo’s position. South African President Jacob Zuma’s agreement to join his fellow panelists in making their recommendations was especially noteworthy in this respect, since South Africa’s prior stance had been viewed as a possible obstacle to that end. The Zuma government had issued equivocal statements on the crisis. It variously endorsed ECOWAS’s findings in favor of Ouattara’s election but also questioned the validity of the election outcome and called for an undefined mediated outcome, and had taken other actions that that some analysts interpreted as unilateral actions to address the crisis.136
Other indications of discord among AU member states included Gambia’s recognition of the legality of Gbagbo’s election and its opposition to a possible ECOWAS military intervention and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s call for an investigation of the poll process and rejection of the validity of international recognition of Ouattara and rejection of Gbagbo’s claimed win.137 Some press reports also implied that statements of support for a negotiated end to the crisis and in opposition to regional military intervention in Côte d’Ivoire by Angola, traditionally seen as a strong Gbagbo ally, signaled Angola’s backing for Gbagbo.138 Angola, however, did not overtly backed Gbagbo; its government did not recognize an official Ivoirian election winner, and it reportedly refused a February request from the Gbagbo administration for funding assistance. The positions of Angola and South Africa suggested that a claim by Gbagbo’s minister of foreign affairs, Alcide Djedje, that Angola, Uganda, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana support Gbagbo’s continued tenure, was overblown or lacked credibility in several instances.139
South Africa’s Changing Stance Toward Resolving the Ivoirian Crisis
In early 2011, President Zuma reportedly stated that he believed that poll discrepancies had marred the Ivoirian vote and that he favored AU mediation to end the crisis, despite his government’s earlier release of a statement endorsing an ECOWAS communiqué recognizing Ouattara as President-elect and calling for Gbagbo “to yield power without delay.” South Africa’s ambiguous stance was again reflected in comments by the South African foreign affairs minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who in mid-February called the election results “‘inconclusive,’ and repeatedly refused to say who South Africa believed won.” While the minister also insisted that South Africa was neutral and held “no brief for any faction in Côte d’Ivoire” her comments, together with those of Zuma, prompted some analysts to conclude that South Africa had not recognized Ouattara’s election and was therefore implicitly pro-Gbagbo.140
Another key indicator of a possible South African unilateral tack in efforts to resolve the crisis was its government’s deployment of a frigate off the West African coast in January 2011. This action was reportedly viewed by ECOWAS as interfering in the AU high-level panel’s work and, by some analysts, as a potential sign of military support for Gbagbo. The South African government, however, denied such claims. South Africa’s ambassador to Nigeria stated that “South Africa will never, ever intervene without consulting the regional bloc, in this case ECOWAS, and … we will never do anything that has not been authorised or mandated by the African Union.”141 Despite such reassurances, questions remained over South Africa’s intent in deploying the warship. The South African newspaper Mail and Guardian reported that the South African government had deployed the ship “on a periodical routine training cruise along the West Coast of Africa since early January 2011 to train junior naval officers [ … as] part of the Inter-Operability West Exercise with other navies of the west coast countries to promote interoperability of the vessels.” The paper also reported, however, that the government had offered numerous other rationales for the vessel’s deployment, stating that it had been sent to he region, inter alia, in order to:
- “evacuate South Africans in Côte d’Ivoire in the event of widespread civil disorder”;
- function as a possible neutral “negotiating venue for the principals of the presidential dispute”;
- provide “possible assistance that may be required by the department of international relations and cooperation during the African Union panel negotiations pertaining to the Ivory Coast”;
- ensure a South African military presence should the situation in Côte d’Ivoire deteriorate; and
- “serve as a floating hospital during a military intervention and help to transport supplies and spares for smaller vessels.”
The paper also reported that the “ship will be well placed to intervene if the AU instructs the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to deploy East African forces, which can only be brought in by sea.”142
Threat of Military Intervention to Oust Gbagbo
Meeting on December 24, ECOWAS heads of state—after determining that Gbagbo had not heeded their December 7 demand that he cede the presidency—decided to “make an ultimate gesture to Mr. Gbagbo by urging him to make a peaceful exit.” They dispatched a delegation made up of the presidents from Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, and Benin to deliver an ultimatum reiterating the ECOWAS’s demand and offer to escort him into exile abroad. “In the event that Mr. Gbagbo fails to heed this immutable demand,” they further decided, ECOWAS “would be left with no alternative but to take other measures, including the use of legitimate force, to achieve the goals of the Ivorian people.”143
The delegation met with Gbagbo and Ouattara on December 28, but Gbagbo did not meet the ECOWAS demand for him to step down. He reportedly demanded a vote recount and an amnesty, were he to cede the presidency. After the delegation departed Côte d’Ivoire, ECOWAS leaders decided to defer immediate military intervention in favor of further negotiation, but regional military leaders met to plan and coordinate a possible deployment, as the heads of state had mandated.144 The same delegation, joined by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the designated AU mediator, and ECOWAS President Gbeho, met with Ouattara and Gbagbo on January 3, and again demanded that Gbagbo cede power; emphasized that power-sharing deal was not feasible; and offered to provide amnesty to Gbagbo if he stepped down. No apparent headway resulted. The talks were described by an anonymous diplomat as “failure No. 2,” although Gbagbo “agreed to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis without any preconditions” and pledged that he would lift a blockade of the hotel where the Ouattara government was housed under armed UNOCI and FN protection. As of late January, he had fulfilled neither pledge.145
Prior to the departure of the second delegation, a Nigerian defense spokesman, speaking on December 31, stated that ECOWAS military chiefs from several member countries had “prepared plans to ‘forcefully take over power’ from” Gbagbo using a grouping of troops called the ECOWAS standby force, said to consist of 6,500 troops, if diplomatic efforts to pressure him to cede the presidency fail. A further logistics meeting was held in mid-January 2011 in Mali to “finalize when troops would be deployed and how long they could remain in the country.” The chiefs of staff were also slated to travel to Bouaké, in north-central Côte d’Ivoire, a possible intervention staging point. Ghana, however, later declined to participate in a potential intervention, citing an overburden of international peacekeeping deployments in other regions, a preference for “quiet diplomacy,” and the presence of an estimated 600,000 or so Ghanaians in Côte d’Ivoire.
Nigeria was also thought to have domestic security concerns of its own that might preclude it from contributing forces. On December 31, the United Kingdom announced that it would politically support use of force by ECOWAS in the UNSC, but did not offer or commit any troops for such a purpose. The UK has also prepared military contingency plans with the French, but the objective of such plans, which may pertain to evacuations of foreign citizens, has not been described publicly.146
It was not clear how an ECOWAS intervention would operate, particularly in relation to the UNOCI and French forces that were already present on the ground. The Ouattara camp called for a special forces commando operation to rapidly remove Gbagbo quickly, which it asserted could be done “without much damage” because “Gbagbo’s location can be quickly identified by a team of elite troops because he ‘is essentially at his residence or at the presidential palace’.” The possible danger to civilian lives resulting from such an operation could have been substantial, however, given the large population that supported Gbagbo’s election, the militancy of a core of Gbagbo’s support base and the presence of a large, highly ethnically and regionally mixed civilian population in Abidjan. Key Gbagbo supporters stated that they would respond in kind to any attempt to attempt to oust Gbagbo by force of arms, and that such an attempt would spark a war.147
A further effort to drive home ECOWAS’s demand to Gbagbo was delivered by Nigeria’s former military head and President Olusegun Obasanjo on January 8. His presence, given his reputation as a forceful, uncompromising interlocutor, was interpreted as underlining the putative seriousness of ECOWAS’s threat. An Ouattara aide was quoted as stating that “In diplomacy you can say things very nicely. Or you can say it by being mean. He is here to say it in the mean way.” Despite such perceptions, no breakthroughs were reported as a result of Obasanjo’s trip.148
On October 15, 2010, the UNSC adopted Resolution 1946, renewing an arms embargo on Côte d’Ivoire, targeted financial assets freeze and travel restrictions first authorized under UNSC Resolution 1572 of November 15, 2004, and a ban on the import of rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire, first authorized under UNSC Resolution 1643 of December 15, 2005.149 On January 6, 2011, USUN Permanent Representative Rice stated that, following the imposition of targeted U.S. and EU sanctions on Gbagbo and associates of his regime, “to the extent that [ … the political situation] remains stalled, I think we are obliged to look at whether it [the U.N. sanctions regime] needs to be augmented and invigorated.”150 In late March 2011, France and Nigeria, backed by ECOWAS, proposed expanded U.N. travel and asset freeze sanctions targeting members of the Gbagbo administration and imposing a ban on heavy weapons in Abidjan.151
Possible Violations of the U.N. Arms Embargo: Recent Developments
In early 2011, U.N. sanctions monitors—known formally as the Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire, a subsidiary of the UNSC Committee initially established pursuant to resolution 1572 (2004)—were reportedly investigating possible deliveries of military weaponry supplies to the Gbagbo administration, in violation of UNSC Resolution 1572 (2004) and later resolutions. In the past, U.N. monitors investigated alleged violations of Resolution 1572 and other U.N. sanctions by both the Gbagbo government and the FN. One of the 2011 probe cases pertained to an alleged Group of Experts report on possible weaponry deliveries to the airport at San Pedro, a southern Ivoirian port city controlled by forces loyal to Gbagbo, but press accounts of the report differ. According to an AFP account, the report states that deliveries were made in mid-December and consisted of “light weapons cargoes from Zimbabwe” flown to San Pedro by aircraft arriving from Angola, Cape Verde and Sao Tome and Principe.152 A separate Reuters account of the Group’s report also refers to “the arrival of light weapons cargoes from Zimbabwe,” but describes the report’s references to Angola and Cape Verde differently, and does not mention Sao Tome. It states that the “report spoke of a ‘suspected cargo delivery from Angola,’ involving two Soviet-manufactured Sukhoi-27 fighter jets and a Soviet-made MIG-25 interceptor and reconnaissance bomber, spotted at San Pedro airport in Cape Verde, and a Russian cargo plane seen at Abidjan in January.” The Group’s report allegedly does not directly implicate the Gbagbo government in the suspected shipments, but states that UNOCI has “received information that the ‘same (Russian cargo) aircraft had supplied equipment to the Ivorian government in 2005’.”153 Another key case, one of 11 “suspicious activities” reported by the monitors, pertains to the possible delivery in fall of 2010 of 10 large wooden crates “which may contain trucks or tanks” and were under military protection.154 Zimbabwean officials reportedly denied sending arms.155
A February 28, 2011, claim by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon alleging that Belarus, in violation of a U.N. arms embargo on Côte d’Ivoire, had supplied the first of three attack helicopters—which was denied by Belarus—also raised fears of greater conflict. Ban’s claim regarding the delivery of the equipment was based on an intelligence report from a U.N. member state, reportedly the United States, which was later determined to have been erroneous. While Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General of the U.N. Peacekeeping Operations Department, confirmed that no delivery had taken place, there remained a strong possibility that the alleged deal, part of a reported $100 million arrangement brokered by a French national, had been planned and was under way. U.N. sanctions monitoring experts had also placed the airport at Yamoussoukro—the putative destination of the alleged helicopter transfer—under surveillance due to other indications of a possible delivery of military materiel to the airport. Group of Experts team members sent to investigate the reported delivery of the aircraft, however, to the airport were shot by Ivoirian military elements guarding the airport and “forced to withdraw” from their observation point, leaving the team unable to prove or disprove whether the aircraft or other military supplies had been delivered to the airport. Despite this outcome, the incident was viewed as an indication that the United Nations is closely monitoring for and will respond to alleged sanctions violations. Information regarding the financial dealings of the alleged interlocutors in various alleged transfers that are under investigation also may provide the Group of Experts means of further investigating these cases and potentially others in which some of the same actors may be involved.156
In late March, UNOCI reported that pro-Gbagbo state security forces “were repairing an MI-24 attack helicopter and readying BM21 multiple rocket launchers.”157
European Union Sanctions
On October 29, 2010, in accordance with the UNSC Resolution 1946, the EU renewed an arms embargo on Côte d’Ivoire, targeted financial assets freeze and travel restrictions, and ban on the import of rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire.158 On December 22, 2010, the Council of the European Union adopted a decision imposing a visa ban “on former president Laurent Gbagbo and 18 other individuals.” On December 31, it extended the ban on an additional 59 “persons who are obstructing the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire and are jeopardising the proper outcome of the electoral process.”159 On January 14, amending its October 29, 2010, decision, the EU Council imposed an asset freeze on “85 individuals that refuse to place themselves under the authority of the democratically elected president, as well as of 11 entities that are supporting the illegitimate administration of Laurent Gbagbo” and also imposed a visa ban on the 85 individuals. The entities targeted reportedly include Côte d’Ivoire’s two main ports, which play a key role in enabling the export of cocoa, a key source of revenue for the Gbagbo government, and the order prevents them from new financial dealings EU-registered vessels. The sanctions could shut down the national oil refinery, which may be unable to buy crude to supply its operations.160 In late March 2011, the EU was reportedly considering imposing new financial and potentially other types of sanctions on the Gbagbo administration.161
Constriction of Gbagbo Administration Access to Finance
Several multilateral financial institutions, in light of growing international recognition of the Ouattara presidency, took steps to halt the flow of credit and official assistance to the Gbagbo regime, in part to remove his ability to maintain the loyalty of the military and civil service by paying their salaries.
On December 6, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank jointly stated that that they “support the efforts being made by the African Union and the international partners to bring this crisis … to a quick and peaceful resolution.”162 On December 22, 2010, the World Bank reported that it had “currently stopped lending and disbursing funds to the Ivory Coast” and closed its office in Côte d’Ivoire. The statement also said that both the World Bank and the AfDB “have supported ECOWAS and the African Union in sending the message to President Gbagbo that he lost the elections and he needs to step down.”163 As of January 10, the AfDB had not issued any further public statements on the Ivorian crisis since issuing the joint statement with the World Bank, but U.S. Treasury officials who liaise with the World Bank and AfDB reported to CRS that the AfDB “has stopped processing new operations or disbursing funds on existing projects.”164
As of January 10, 2011, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had not publicly issued any post-electoral notices pertaining to decisions on whether it was currently working with either the self-asserted Gbagbo or Ouattara government, or regarding any change in the status of its relations with Côte d’Ivoire, as the IMF had not formally polled its members regarding these issues, which is the procedure through which it makes such determinations. However, a U.S. Treasury official informed CRS that as of the same date, the IMF was engaging with neither government.165
On December 23, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), the supervisory body of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), a regional central bank, recognized Ouattara as the legitimately elected president of Côte d’Ivoire, and gave him authority over UEMOA-related activities and BCEAO transactions.166 UEMOA member countries use a common currency, the West African Communauté Financière de l’Afrique (CFA) franc. The CFA is backed by the BCEAO, pegged to the Euro and is supported indirectly by the French treasury. The effect of this action was unclear; on December 23, the Associated Press reported that
several banks in downtown Abidjan posted notices in their windows saying that they would not be cashing civil servant paychecks because they hadn’t received a guarantee from the government that they would be reimbursed. Lines of impatient civil servants formed outside the banks, but just after noon the notices were removed and one by one people started receiving their money.167
Despite such pressure, in January and February 2011,Gbagbo officials had reported that they had access to funding sources, reportedly including customs, tax, cocoa, and oil revenues, to pay government salaries, but were reportedly strongly pressuring banks, commodity traders, and other businesses to ensure funding flows in the form of credit and other payments, to the Gbagbo government. According to the United States ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Phillip Carter, Gbagbo
has been extorting local businesses to pay in advance their taxes, to pay things forward – contracts forward, putting increasing pressure on a variety of companies that are involved in natural resources, be it coffee, cocoa, petroleum, timber, whatever, to pay forward. They’re resisting.168
In mid-January 2011, the Ouattara camp complained that, despite the BCEAO’s recognition of Ouattara as the legitimate president, the bank was continuing to channel cash to the Gbagbo government, as some news reports had previously suggested. Such charges were denied by the BCEAO. The Ouattara camp has been attempting to cut funding to Gbagbo in several ways. On January 10, the Ouattara government issued a list of 16 Ivorian treasury, banking, and cocoa officials it wanted sanctioned for backing Gbagbo.169 The head of BCEAO, Philippe-Henry Dacoury-Tabley, a reported Gbagbo ally, resigned on January 22 after being accused of not cooperating with Ouattara. In late January, in retaliation for UEMOA’s action, the Gbagbo administration seized BCEAO’s local offices and assets.170
On February 9, the Gbagbo administration seized the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres, a West African regional stock exchange, and in mid-February 2011 it ceased operations in Abidjan, along with several major foreign banks. They suspended operations in Côte d’Ivoire due to security fears and pressure by the Gbagbo administration on them to continue to service its credit needs. These developments contributed to a further paralysis of the increasingly cash-strapped banking sector. Affected banks included Standard Chartered Plc, Citigroup Inc., BNP Paribas SA and Societe Generale SA. In the wake of these banks’ officers’ departure from the country, the Gbagbo administration seized the banks’ local holdings, although it was not clear what assets, apart from office space and other tangible property, the government might be able to liquidate.171 The Gbagbo government has also partially nationalized the cocoa and coffee sectors and possibly gold mining operations, and may seize cocoa stocks that remain unexported due to firms’ compliance with EU sanctions.172
By early March 2011, the financial pressures on the Gbagbo government appeared to be gradually reducing its ability to finance its operations. In late January 2011, it was reportedly able to successfully make its second monthly post-election state salary disbursement, but was reportedly only able to make 62% of February salary payments by early March.173
On December 31, Côte d’Ivoire technically defaulted on a sovereign bond repayment, reportedly because the Ouattara government claimed that the state lacks funds to make the payment and because the Gbagbo government did not make payment. The debt at issue was a $29 million initial “coupon” payment on an outstanding $2.3 billion Eurobond issue. However, the issue gives Côte d’Ivoire a 30-day grace period, preventing it from falling into sovereign debt default status until February 1, and on January 11, the Gbagbo government pledged to make the coupon payment by February 1.174 Further access to international bond markets for either a Gbagbo or an Ouattara government, however, may prove difficult because the national debt was reportedly twice previously restructured due to past defaults.175
Ouattara’s Cocoa Export Ban
On January 24, in an effort to prevent further revenue flows to the Gbagbo administration, Ouattara issued a one-month ban on cocoa exports (which the Obama Administration endorsed) and in late February extended it by two weeks. Another extension was anticipated by analysts, although it is not clear how effective the ban has been. The initial ban spurred a one-day 4% price rise in cocoa futures, but was seen as likely having a limited short-term impact on cocoa supplies because (1) purchases contracted prior to January 23 can be shipped; (2) the ban went into effect after the annual peak export period; and (3) buyers reportedly increased purchases prior to the ban given ongoing Ivoirian political volatility. A sustained ban, however, was seen as likely to prompt higher prices, and world markets reacted with alarm to a worsening of political and security conditions and Ouattara’s extension of the ban in late February 2011. Global prices hit 32-year active trading price records in the $3,775-plus per tonne range in early March 2011. Black market exports to Ghana and other countries, such as Liberia and Togo via Burkina Faso, are reportedly growing. Smuggling may increase if sellers cannot guarantee legal formal sector export sales through the main ports. Ghanaian officials view their cocoa exports as being of a premium grade, and worry that a blending of illegal cocoa imports from Côte d’Ivoire with Ghanaian cocoa stocks may depreciate the quality of Ghanaian exports. Ghanaian officials are also concerned that the earnings from black market trade flows may flow into the coffers of the Gbagbo administration, furthering its ability to continue to operate. In early 2011, large international cocoa buyers were wary of the uncertain legal environment relating to cocoa exports, and had an incentive to comply with the ban in order to avoid future negative relations with the EU, as well as with Ouattara, should he formally assume power. Activists are pressuring large international cocoa buyers to heed the ban. One of the largest U.S. buyers of Ivoirian cocoa, Cargill, immediately suspended purchases after the ban was imposed, and U.S.-based Archer Daniels Midland, along with the Swiss-based Barry Callebaut AG, later followed suit. In late February, Ivorian farmers were reportedly facing challenges in financing and storing the next crop, due to for harvest in April and May, given international pressure on the banking sector and because ports and warehouses were already filled with about 475,000 tons of unexported stocks. Poor storage conditions reportedly threatened to spoil these holdings. A March 8 public statement by Gbagbo, in which he threatened to nationalize the cocoa sector and potentially expropriate warehoused stocks owned by firms that do not export them by the end of March, possibly for export to Asian or other markets, reportedly caused alarm within the international cocoa industry. A government spokesman later stated that only cocoa equivalent to the value of taxes owed by companies on export-destined cocoa that had not been exported by late March would be seized. A State Department spokesman said the plan “amounts to theft” and called it another “desperate act” by Gbagbo “to cling to power.”176
In the face of the BCEAO move, pro-Gbagbo activists advocated that Côte d’Ivoire drop as its currency the CFA, and adopt a new national currency, reportedly dubbed the MIR, the French acronym for “Ivorian currency of the resistance.” In part, the move would be a symbolic strike at France, which the Gbagbo regime and its supporters accused of various acts of sabotage aimed at ousting Gbagbo from power. The CFA is the currency of UEMOA countries, which is backed by the BCEAO, pegged to the Euro, and supported indirectly by the French treasury.177
One observer proposed a further measure to prevent the Gbagbo regime from seeking further alternative sources of credit on the private market. Todd Moss of the Center for Global Development, a former State Department African affairs official, suggested that the African Union, publicly backed by major donor governments, issue a “declaration of non-transferability” regarding new loans to the Gbagbo regime. Such a declaration would assert that such loans “would be considered illegitimate and invalid” and thus not subject to repayment by the Ouattara government.178
U.S. Diplomatic and Policy Responses Prior to Gbagbo Arrest
On December 3, 2010, President Obama publicly congratulated Ouattara on his electoral victory, and stated that the IEC, “credible and accredited observers, and the United Nations all confirmed this result and attested to its credibility.” He urged “all parties, including incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, to acknowledge and respect … the will of the electorate.” He also said that the “international community will hold those who act to thwart the democratic process … accountable for their actions.” His statement mirrored a similar one delivered a day earlier by a National Security Council (NSC) spokesman.179 On December 23 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated that “President Alassane Dramane Ouattara is the legitimately elected and internationally recognized leader of Côte d’Ivoire.”180 A variety of other top U.S. officials made similar statements.
President Obama and other top U.S. officials also condemned the use of deadly force against unarmed protesters. On March 9, 2011, President Obama, mirroring a March 4 statement by Secretary of State Clinton, said he was “appalled by the indiscriminate killing of unarmed civilians during peaceful rallies, many of them women” by “security forces loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo.”181 He said that the
United States remains deeply concerned about escalating violence, including the deepening humanitarian and economic crisis and its impact in Côte d’Ivoire and neighboring countries. All armed parties in Côte d’Ivoire must make every effort to protect civilians from being targeted, harmed, or killed. The United States reiterates its commitment to work with the international community to ensure that perpetrators of such atrocities be identified and held individually accountable for their actions.
Notwithstanding U.S. recognition of Ouattara’s election, the United States continued to view the self-declared Gbagbo government as legally responsible for any actions that it may take in exercising executive authority over state institutions.182 Such actions were thought to include the issuance of command and control directives to elements of the state security forces, some of which reportedly committed post-election human rights abuses, or the inappropriately partisan, private, or extralegal use or abuse of fiscal or other state resources. The United States, however, formally accepted the credentials of a new Ivoirian ambassador to the United States, Daouda Diabate. Diabate, appointed by President Ouattara, arrived to take up his post in early February 2011. The United States had previously recognized President Ouattara’s recall of Gbagbo’s designated ambassador to the United States, Yao Charles Koffi, and recognized as his interim replacement as charge d’affaires of the Côte d’Ivoire embassy in the United States, Kouame Christophe Kouakou, the former Deputy Chief of Mission under Koffi. From the U.S. perspective, Koffi’s status as ambassador was formally terminated on December 30, although efforts to achieve this end began in mid-December, when Ouattara made his recall.183
Presidential and Other High-Level Efforts to Pressure Gbagbo to Step Down
The United States attempted to directly communicate with Gbagbo to urge him to abide by the results of the election and cede power to Ouattara, with little success. President Obama reportedly tried to telephone Gbagbo twice in December, the first time prior to Gbagbo’s self-inauguration and the second about ten days later, but his calls were refused.184 After the first call, on December 5 he reportedly sent a letter to Gbagbo outlining the U.S. position regarding Ouattara’s election.185 In the letter, reportedly sent on or about December 10, he invited Gbagbo to the White House “for discussions … on ways to advance democracy and development in Côte d’Ivoire and West Africa” should Gbagbo cede power. Gbagbo reportedly received but did not respond to the letter, which also stated that President Obama “would support efforts to isolate Gbagbo and hold him to account if he refused to step down.”186 A second, “more detailed” letter was sent to Gbagbo sent by Secretary of State Clinton, reportedly suggested that “Gbagbo could move to the United States or receive a position in an international or regional institution if he left peacefully.”187
These efforts were part of a U.S.-supported international strategy to provide Gbagbo with a “soft landing,” a euphemism for voluntary exile under international pressure.188 “Similar inducements” to those outlined in President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s letters were reportedly proffered by France and other African countries.189 A letter from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, acting for ECOWAS, that was given to Gbagbo on December 17 reportedly contained an offer of asylum by an unnamed African country.190
The effort was portrayed by U.S. officials not as an outright offer to Gbagbo of asylum in the United States, but as a proffer of assistance to help arrange exile, with the condition—a measure meant to pressure him to accept the proposal—that if Gbagbo were to agree to step down, he would have had to do so rapidly. The effort was also qualified by a second condition designed to motivate Gbagbo to help prevent any further human rights abuses. Any potential additional abuses by forces under his control, or other acts for which Gbagbo might be held accountable under international justice mechanisms, might lead to the offer being withdrawn. The proposal gave Gbagbo a “window of opportunity” to act in accordance with international demands, but a finite one defined by events on the ground.191
No publicly stated decision was been announced on whether the United States—which provides limited security sector assistance to ECOWAS, in part focused on its stand-by force, and funds a military advisor who is based at ECOWAS’s military headquarters—would support an ECOWAS military intervention in Côte d’Ivoire. However, an ECOWAS delegation that was sent to the United States to consult with U.S. and U.N. officials, reportedly including with respect to possible external support for an ECOWAS military intervention, met with the U.S. National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon on January 26. A White House statement on the meeting did not address the issue of possible U.S. military support for ECOWAS. It stated that “Mr. Donilon expressed strong support for the efforts of ECOWAS to facilitate a peaceful transition of power in Côte d’Ivoire,” and that he and the delegation “reaffirmed their shared commitment to see” Ouattara take “his rightful role as President of Côte d’Ivoire, and their shared resolve to see former President Laurent Gbagbo cede power.” Participants also “discussed the importance of maintaining international unity on this point” and agreed to continue to closely coordinate their responses to the crisis.192
U.S. Visa Restrictions
On December 21, in order to pressure Gbagbo to cede power, the United States imposed travel restrictions on members of Laurent Gbagbo’s regime and “other individuals who support policies or actions that undermine the democratic process and reconciliation efforts in Côte d’Ivoire.” The restrictions reportedly target affected persons by revoking “existing visas to the United States and prohibit new visa applications from being accepted.” The list of affected persons was not made public, and it is unclear whether Gbagbo himself was on the list, in part in light of President Obama’s invitation to him, or whether his cabinet members were affected. According to the State Department website America.gov, a State Department spokesman was quoted as stating that “there are dozens of individuals being targeted and the list ‘will go up’ to potentially include Gbagbo’s Cabinet ministers and others who are continuing to help him remain in power.”193
U.S. Targeted Financial Sanctions
On January 6, 2011, acting under Executive Order 13396 (EO 13396), the U.S. Treasury Department imposed targeted financial sanctions on Gbagbo; his wife, Simone Gbagbo; and senior Gbagbo associates and advisers Desire Tagro, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and Alcide Ilahiri Djedje. The sanctions prohibit U.S. persons “from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the designated individuals” and freeze “any assets of the designees within U.S. jurisdiction.” They were imposed because of Gbagbo’s “refusal to accept the CEI’s [IEC] election results … and relinquish his authority,” aided by the other designees “directly or indirectly” were “determined to constitute a threat to the peace and national reconciliation process in Côte d’Ivoire,” which EO 13396 seeks to deter. The intention of the move was to isolate Gbagbo “and his inner circle from the world’s financial system and underscore the desire of the international community that he step down.”194
Prior to April 2011, there were few other public congressional responses to the Ivoirian crisis, apart from the introduction of a resolution by Representative Donald M. Payne. The resolution, H.Res. 85, (“Supporting the democratic aspirations of the Ivoirian people and calling on the United States to apply intense diplomatic pressure and provide humanitarian support in response to the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire”) was introduced on February 10, 2011. As of April 19, 2011, it had 49 co-sponsors. On April 7, 2011, Representative Timothy V. Johnson introduced H.Res. 212 (“Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should not intervene in the civil war in the Ivory Coast’), and on April 13, 2011 HFAC held a hearing on Côte d’Ivoire entitled “Crisis in Cote d’Ivoire: Implications for the Country and Region.” Also in April, Senator Inhofe, one of the only Members of Congress to take a strong stand on behalf of Gbagbo’s electoral claims and in opposition to accusations that Gbagbo ordered or abetted human rights abuses, made several statements in support of Gbagbo. He also criticized the Obama Administration’s response to the Ivoirian crisis, and stated that the French military mission and UNOCI were biased in favor of Ouattara. He called their military actions “war-making,” as opposed to “peacekeeping,” among other critical characterizations.195
On December 7, Representative Donald M. Payne, the 111th Congress chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC), called on Gbagbo, “in the manner befitting of a statesman, to peacefully transfer power to President-elect Ouattara.” He also expressed deep concern “over the reports of the deadly attack against the opposition headquarters committed by paramilitary forces, and of violent outbursts between supporters of the ruling Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) and the opposition Rally of the Republicans (RDR).” He urged Gbagbo “to immediately rein in his security forces and all paramilitary groups to prevent further bloodshed and suffering at the hands of the Ivorian people,” and stated that “it is absolutely critical at this juncture that the rule of law, suspension of violence, and the will of the people be upheld to prevent a major crisis.” On March 3, 2011, in a guest column for AllAfrica.com, Representative Payne strongly criticized Gbagbo’s effort to stay in power. He wrote that the Gbagbo “regime and its supporters are waging a continuing campaign of terror against a large numbers of Ivorians, United Nations peacekeepers, and foreign businesses and residents in the country.” He concluded that “Gbagbo is clearly willing to push his country and its neighbors into a state of political anarchy and economic disarray in order to maintain his grasp on political power.”196
On December 21, Senator Kerry stated that he welcomed “the State Department’s announcement of travel sanctions against members of Laurent Gbagbo’s administration in Côte d’Ivoire for their refusal to recognize the results of the legitimate, democratic election on November 28.” He also stated that, in the wake of “violent attacks against civilians and supporters” of Ouattara, “it is vital that all parties involved in the present standoff respect human rights, maintain a constructive dialogue, restore telecommunications networks to allow the free flow of information, and abide by the standards of international law.”197 Then-U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman issued a similar statement praising the U.S. and international sanctions on the government of Gbagbo, who his statement said “personifies the kind of dictator that has crippled many African countries over several decades.” It continued by stating that “now, as in many other countries the people have spoken. The dictator must go.” It also asserted that what it called Gbagbo’s “political thuggery will not go unchallenged by the responsible nations of the world.”198
U.S. Relations, Assistance, and Elections Support
U.S.-Ivoirian relations were traditionally cordial, but became strained after the 1999 ouster of former president Henri Konan Bédié in 1999 in a military coup by the late General Robert Guéï, and remained so during President Gbagbo’s tenure. The United States recognized Gbagbo as the de facto leader of Côte d’Ivoire, but viewed the 2000 election that brought him to power as operationally “flawed” and “marred by significant violence and irregularities,” and as illegitimate because it was organized by a government that came to power by undemocratic means.199
Since the ouster of Bédié, Côte d’Ivoire has been subject to a restriction on bilateral aid that prohibits the use of foreign operations funds—with some exceptions for selected non-governmental organization, human welfare, and humanitarian needs programs—to a country whose democratically elected head of government is deposed by a military coup d’état.200 The United States also imposed personal sanctions on selected persons viewed as threatening the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire (see previous discussion of U.S. visa restrictions and financial sanctions). U.S. bilateral engagement was also reduced as a result of the 2002 conflict by the suspension and later closure of a country Peace Corps program in 2002 and 2003. After the northern rebellion in October 2002, 133 Peace Corps volunteers were evacuated by U.S. and French forces, and the program was suspended. The country office closed in May 2003.
The United States repeatedly pressed the parties to the Ivorian conflict to durably and comprehensively resolve their conflict, and has attempted to foster a transition to peace and democracy by diplomatically and otherwise supporting implementation of the OPA and prior peace accords. The United States provided about $9 million in assistance to help ECOMICI deploy in 2003 and financially and politically supports the UNOCI mission ($81 million, FY2009 actual; $128.6 million, FY2010 enacted; and $135 million, FY2011 request. It has also funded limited election support activities (see text box).
The United States is providing emergency assistance to respond to the humanitarian impact of the post-election crisis; these efforts are discussed in the “Humanitarian Effects and Responses” section, above. In addition to this aid, Côte d’Ivoire has received limited U.S. food aid and substantial HIV/AIDS and health-related assistance in recent years ($107 million in FY2009 and an estimated $133 million in FY2010, with $133 million requested in FY2011).201 Another policy concern is trafficking in persons. The State Department reports that Côte d’Ivoire is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. There are several U.S. anti-trafficking programs in place.
U.S. Democratization and Election Support
The Carter Center, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) supported a variety of election-related activities. From 2009 through 2010, NDI supported “participatory and peaceful elections in Côte d’Ivoire by reinforcing mechanisms for mitigating election-related conflict and by assisting women leaders and activists to participate in the election process.” Some of the work focused on youth leader election conflict prevention and mitigation efforts. In May 2010, NDI also sponsored a series of training to boost female political candidacies, and in October 2010, NDI sponsored the an inter-party effort to promote a 2008 NDI-assisted inter-party code of conduct, and a ceremony in which the 14 presidential first-round candidates signed onto the code. NDI also sponsored diverse activities from 2003 to 2009 in support of national reconciliation and the reestablishment of non-violent political processes, such as training on public policy and communication skills for political parties (starting in 2003); organizational capacity building for political parties (starting in 2005); and on “the roles and responsibilities of parties in a democratic political system,” accompanied by support for an inter-party information resource center (in 2006 and 2007). In 2008, it also implemented a USAID-funded program to increase the capacity of political parties to monitor the electoral process. NDI’s activities in Côte d’Ivoire were supported by $600,000 in NED funding in 2009, and $550,000 from the NED in 2010.202 NDI and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) received about $.7 million in funding in 2007 and 2008 to support political party monitoring of the citizen identification process and voter registration (NDI), and civic education and IEC capacity building (IFES).203
The Carter Center monitored, publicly reported on, and issued diverse recommendations relating to the Ivorian political process, between late 2008 and late 2010, although its election-related activities are slated to continue through March 2011. Much of its work in 2009 and 2010 focused on the citizen identification and voter registration, verification, and challenge processes. In 2010, the Center also monitored the two presidential votes, issued detailed assessments of events during and preceding polling day. These activities and subsequent ones running through March 2011 were subsidized by $.74 million in State Department Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Bureau (DRL) funding.204
NED, which sponsors activities and organizational capacity-building of selected non-governmental organizations, sponsored a range of election-related and political participation-focused activities in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, these included support of activities focusing on the promotion of female participation in politics, including as candidates; local conflict resolution; “peace and non-violence during the presidential elections using community radio and voter education campaigns”; youth and ex-combatants engagement in political party activities and political processes; and compliance with a media code of conduct during the presidential elections. NED also supported selected NDI activities (see above). In 2010, NED continued to support community radio non-violence and voter education campaigns and expanded female political participation, as well as women’s rights during the electoral period, trained and deployed about 1,020 national election observers, and otherwise supported increased civil society organization engagement in election monitoring. NED funding for these activities totaled about $1.9 million.205
According to the State Department’s FY2011 foreign operations Congressional Budget Justification—which was issued prior to the crisis—if Côte d’Ivoire’s political situation is resolved “to such an extent that U.S. assistance can help restore stability and promote good governance,” the Administration of President Barack Obama would seek to
promote credible and peaceful elections [e.g., parliamentary or local ones], support a deep and broad nationwide reconciliation process, restore the rule of law and combat impunity, raise public awareness of the costs of corruption, expose Ivoirian youth to nontraditional ideas of civil society, help young political leaders develop new approaches and adopt better political platforms, fight trafficking in persons, stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and increase economic productivity.
In addition to $133.3 million in Global Health and Child Survival (GHCS) funding mentioned above, the FY2011 State Department budget request envisions the provision of $4.2 million in Economic Support Fund (ESF) assistance for conflict mitigation and reconciliation, good governance, political competition and consensus-building and civil society support, along with $40,000 in International Military Education and Training aid.
The capture of Gbagbo by pro-Ouattara FRCI military forces appears to have nearly ended the military conflict spurred by the post-electoral crisis. As of mid-April, FRCI forces were attempting to defeat and force the surrender of a small number of die-hard armed Gbagbo supporters, but the Gbagbo regime otherwise appeared to have ended. Many leading figures in Gbagbo’s administration were also in FRCI custody, and the Ouattara government was investigating many of them for human rights abuses and killings, arms purchases, or embezzlement and other financial crimes.
Prospects for the further resolution of the crisis and the factors that underlay it are unclear, but the Ouattara government has garnered substantial pledges of international political and financial support for its efforts to achieve these ends. Key objectives include the imposition of Transitional Justice and accountability for Human Rights crimes during and prior to the electoral crisis; post-war economic recovery, notably focusing on the resumption of cocoa exports; and military and police and governance reform. Success in these efforts will require that the Ouattara government build its legitimacy in the eyes of the entire Ivoirian population, including those portions of the electorate that voted for Gbagbo, some elements of which may remain aggrieved and attempt to obstruct the political process. A lengthy, complex, and possibly politically volatile series of attempts to achieve national reconciliation and unity are likely, as are efforts to address root causes of the conflict through land, constitutional, and governance reform, as well as the conduct of legislative elections.
While Ouattara appears to be taking some of the actions recommended by the high-level AU mediation panel in mid-March, it is not clear how closely he will adhere to the full range of these proposals, or to what extent the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA) remains in effect. If the crisis is resolved, Côte d’Ivoire is well-positioned to undertake a successful economic recovery, and to reemerge as a regional economic hub. While the economy has suffered from some degree of lack of investment due to the uncertain political situation, the cocoa economy has performed well and the country has a fairly well developed infrastructure by regional standards. An end to the crisis would also likely boost international political and investment confidence in West Africa as a whole.
Figure 1. Côte d’Ivoire: National Map with Regions
Source: CRS adaptation of U.N. Cartographic Section Map No. 4312 Rev. 2, June 2009
Appendix A. Background on the Election
The Long-Stymied Peace Process
The 2010 presidential election was the main political objective of a peace process aimed at reunifying Côte d’Ivoire under a series of political-military agreements reached between 2003 and March 2007, when the most recent accord, the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA) was signed. The OPA incorporated key provisions of the main preceding agreements but superseded them.206 The election was originally slated to be held as constitutionally prescribed, in a manner that would allow a timely transition to a new elected government at the end of President Gbagbo’s initial five-year term on October 30, 2005. It was delayed at least six times, however, in some cases with the explicit concurrence of the international facilitators of the various peace agreements, and in some cases in spite of their demands, political threats, and other efforts intended to expedite fulfillment of the agreements.207 These delays enabled Gbagbo to maintain his incumbency for five years after the termination of his electoral mandate and—according to some analysts—to significantly influence the politics of the peace process in a manner that allowed him and his key allies to consolidate state power, access to resources, and shape the electoral institutional framework to work in their favor.
Article 48: President Gbagbo’s “Exceptional” Authority
Despite the expiration of his electoral term in 2005, Gbagbo asserted a legal mandate to retain his post under Article 48 of the Constitution of Côte d’Ivoire, which allows the president of the Ivorian republic to take “exceptional measures”—following consultation with the National Assembly President and the Constitutional Council—when “the regular functioning of the constitutional public powers is interrupted.” Gbagbo used the measure to ensure the continuity of his incumbency past his elected tenure, to enact numerous laws by decree, and to issue other types of executive orders. The same constitutional provision permitted the National Assembly to continue to function past its elected term. Gbagbo’s use of Article 48 was, in some cases, viewed as helpful to the peace process, as it allowed for the enactment of legal reforms called for under the peace accords, while in others its use was opposed by his political opponents. Gbagbo was also sometimes accused of hindering accord implementation by not using his executive powers in a timely manner. In its findings on the second round poll, the Carter Center criticized the expedient political use of legal mechanisms by both sides. It stated its regret at “the tendency of political actors to use the legal framework not to resolve political differences by referring to the legal basis for decisions, but to sharpen them by ignoring it when it did not suit their agenda.”208
Key accord implementation challenges pertained to the sequence and manner in which disarmament, citizen and voter identification, voter registration, other electoral administration tasks, and various accord-prescribed legal reforms would take place; and differences over the scope of presidential authority. Controversy over these and other issues regularly prompted episodes of political volatility, mass political protests that were, at times, violent, and underpinned electoral process delays which, in turn, spurred the successive series of accords. The root causes underlying the conflict include contention over land; internal and regional migration; the nature of national identity; qualifications for citizenship; and the extent of foreign influence over Ivorian political processes; security force abuses; issues of socioeconomic welfare (e.g., power cuts and uneven access to social services); and other aggravating factors, such as corruption and crime.
Pre-Electoral Processes: Progress and Challenges
Notwithstanding such challenges, the conduct of the October 31, 2010, first round election was made possible because substantial headway was made in 2009 and 2010 toward completing OPA-required election preparation tasks, despite a number of potentially catastrophic challenges to their execution, and far less progress in attaining key non-electoral but politically critical provisions of the OPA. Failure to complete the latter—primarily disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants and militia members; security sector reform; and the nationwide restoration of state authority, all of which remained incomplete by polling day, notwithstanding much progress—could well have once again prevented the elections from occurring (see text box).
According to U.N. reporting, in 2009 the government and the FN, substantially aided by UNOCI, made substantial progress in completing the processes of pre-electoral citizen identification and voter registration processes. Over 6.59 million persons were legally identified and 6.38 million registered as voters, but 2.7 million of this number had to have their identification for voting purposes confirmed. Citizen identification was a prerequisite of elections and was conducted concurrently with voter registration, but was a separate objective under the OPA. The lack of identification papers for millions of Ivoirian and foreign residents in Côte d’Ivoire was a key issue underpinning the conflict and the years of subsequent political impasse. Lack of proof of national identity was common due to factors such as historical discrimination; lack of administrative capacity; lack of access of Ivorian-born, second generation immigrants to legal identification rights and processes; and destruction and poor administration of civil registers during and after the conflict. Persons eligible for inclusion on the voter roll included those entered on the 2000 election voter list and any other Ivoirian citizen 18 years or older who could present proof of birth, although according to the Carter Center, “in practice, these distinctions were not applied and individuals seeking to be on the voter list did not have to demonstrate proof of nationality.” This situation created the basis for disputation of the validity of entries on the voter roll, and complicated the voter registration process, turning what was initially planned as a six-week exercise into a two-year process.209
Peace Process Again Imperiled: Voter Vetting and Electoral Disputes
Voter list vetting in November 2009 by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) validated a provisional voter list that included some 5.28 million registrations (dubbed the “white list”), but left an additional 1.03 million unconfirmed (the “grey list”). Challenges were later made to almost half of these, and while all but 33,476 were validated, the status of the other half remained unclear. Delays in these processes and later registration appeals, however, forced a postponement of national elections, which had been scheduled for November 29, 2009.210 Notwithstanding the delay, based on voter registration progress, the validation by the Constitutional Council on November 19 of 14 of 20 aspirant presidential candidates, and an amendment to the remaining electoral timeline established under the OPA , elections were forecast to be held by late February or early March 2010.211
On February 11, 2010, however, Prime Minister Soro ordered an indefinite suspension of the national voter registration contestation process following “tensions created by the process of validating the provisional voter list.” This process had sown fears in some areas that courts, at the direction of the FPI-led government, would purge opposition voters from the voter rolls.212 This controversy arose after the then-IEC chairman, Robert Mambé, a PDCI member, reportedly erroneously distributed 429,030 voter names to local IEC offices during what he asserted was an internal IEC voter vetting exercise. Gbagbo’s supporters claimed that the names at issue were primarily of persons of northern descent. After an Interior Ministry investigation, the Gbagbo government accused Mambé of fraudulently trying to rig the voter list on behalf of the opposition, and demanded that he resign. The opposition came to Mambé’s defense and accused the government of trying to further delay elections and extend the president’s term. Mambé rejected the claims of Gbagbo’s supporters and called for an independent UNOCI probe into the affair.213
The situation was further inflamed when on February 11 President Gbagbo unilaterally dissolved the government, dismissed the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), and called on Soro to quickly appoint a new government and propose “a new credible electoral commission.”214 Gbagbo’s actions followed weeks of growing dispute between the presidency and the IEC over the Mambé controversy and Mambé’s refusal to resign, and invalidated the prior election schedule, raising questions about when the long delayed presidential election would occur. The IEC dissolution was strongly opposed by the opposition camp, which labeled it “undemocratic and unconstitutional” and tantamount to a coup d’état.215 In subsequent weeks, demonstrations broke out in multiple Ivoirian cities. Some were violent, resulting in around 12 fatalities. After a mediation visit by the OPA Facilitator, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, a new IEC was appointed on February 25, and an opposition member was later chosen as its chairman.
Non-Electoral Elements of the OPA: Security Reform and
State Reunification Prior to the Election
Progress toward elections under the peace process created by the OPA and preceding accords had long been hindered by contestation over the sequencing of disarmament, among other matters. The Forces Nouvelles (FN), while publicly supportive of the OPA’s disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) provisions, contended that disarmament was not a prerequisite to elections. In various instances, it refused to move forward with disarmament commitments prior to progress on various election and identification accord provisions. Although a late 2008 amendment to the OPA required FN DDR two months prior to the presidential election, election delays and the lack of a specific announced poll date meant that the provision could not be enforced. The Gbagbo government, for its part, periodically refused to move forward on election-related commitments in the absence of FN disarmament. As of late May 2010, the Gbagbo government was once again “insisting on disarmament and the reunification of the country before the elections,” after earlier agreeing to hold polls. In a late May 2010 report, UNSG Ban stated that “many interlocutors, including the [OPA] Facilitator, advised” that the terms of the OPA “must be tackled concomitantly in order to remove any pretexts by any of the parties for not carrying out their obligations.”
OPA implementation progress was also plagued by funding shortages, including lack of payment to former rebel members of integrated security force units created by the OPA, a situation that held the potential to impact the electoral process, since these units were charged providing election security. Other factors underlying “perennial delays in the peace process,” according to Ban, included “underestimation by the parties of the time required to implement some complex tasks; lack of capacity on the part of the national implementing institutions; logistical and other resource constraints; and differences that emerged among the parties on the practical modalities for the implementation of the most sensitive tasks, such as the identification operations.” He also asserted that “lack of political will … also contributed significantly to the delays.” Ban reported that, as of November 23 2010, a “significant number of tasks stipulated in [OPA…] that relate to disarmament and the reunification of the country remain uncompleted, including the disarmament of former combatants of the FN and the dismantling of militia; the reunification of the Ivorian defence and security forces; the restoration of State authority throughout the country, including the redeployment of the corps préfectoral, the judiciary and the fiscal and customs administrators; and the centralization of the treasury.”
While security reforms under the OPA remained substantially incomplete by polling day, increasing progress toward these goals was made in the months prior to the polls. An FN DDR process was re-initiated in four locations between June and August 2010. By late October, 3,629 FN soldiers identified for integration into the national army were cantoned—albeit not on a sustained basis, due to insufficient resources, and the number of FN command zones was also reduced from 10 to 4. DDR of former FN combatants was continuing as of November 23, 2010, when 17,601 of 23,777 combatants slated to be demobilized had undergone this process. An additional 4,000 FN soldiers were slated join the Integrated Command Centre (ICC). UNOCI reported that demobilization resulted in the collection of a limited number of weapons, most unserviceable. In September the government began to make allowances payments to 1,170 demobilized FN forces in three areas; each received $200. The demobilization and disarmament of a further estimated non-FN 20,150 militia members remained at a standstill, following the demobilization of 17,301 militia members, in part due to demands by ex-militia groups for larger payments.
The restoration of nationwide state authority and the centralization of the treasury also remained incomplete. FN authorities “continued to levy and collect taxes and customs revenues,” counter to the OPA, although some progress in training and deploying new national customs officers to FN areas was made. However, the deployment had little effect in the face of continuing FN “illegal” revenue collection. Some courts in the north that had closed during a period of unrest in February 2010 (see below) reopened in August 2010 to handle voter registration list appeals, but were operationally incapable to undertake criminal proceedings, severely curtailing access to justice.216
Opposition parties then agreed to join a new government, and political tensions eased. Processes leading up to the production of a final electoral list (which Gbagbo supporters later repeatedly asserted needed to be “disinfected” to remove northern names, with which they claimed it was “infested”),217 to be followed by the production and distribution of identity and voters’ cards, began in March.
On March 17, at a U.N. Security Council meeting following renewed opposition demands for an election, the Ivoirian delegate stated that the 429,030 voters at issue in the Mambé controversy had to be stricken from the voter list, which he said would then have to be audited over a one-two month period. In addition, citing a series of attacks on state and FPI facilities in FN-controlled areas, he stated that a free vote could not be held in a “bisected territory” beset by an “atmosphere of intimidation,” and insisted that full national reunification and complete disarmament of the FN rebels take place prior to elections.218 This stance prompted the opposition to accuse the government of again attempting to delay voting. In early May there were renewed tensions after the opposition, rejecting alleged interruptions to the electoral process and to prolonged electoral list vetting appeals procedures, called for an expedited election and announced a protest march. It was later postponed, however, due to fears that it would spur violence.219
2010: Electoral Processes Progress Apace
In May 2010, work toward finalization of the voter rolls, based on a late April agreement between parties to the OPA, began anew with a resumption of the appeals process of “grey list” entries. It was undertaken by 415 local electoral commissions and completed in June, and resulted in the addition of 496,738 persons to the “white list,” creating a 5.78 million person voter roll. This list, in turn, was subjected to a further appeals process involving the public display of voter sheets in early August, which resulted in 30,293 requests for the removal of provisional voters from the roll, and local court hearings on these petitions subsequently commenced. These hearings were controversial, in light of allegations that elements of Gbagbo’s FPI had requested the removal of large numbers of names from the rolls, and sparked clashes among party militants in some areas, as well as the suspension of some court proceedings due to disputes over hearing procedures.
This process, which resulted in the deletion of 1,273 entries and the addition of 7,418 new ones, ended in late August. A separate verification process focusing on 1.79 million “white list” entries, ran to the parallel public court-based appeals process between June and early August. It resulted in the temporary removal from the provisional voters list of 55,000 persons “for whom no civil registry records could be found” or whose voter identification data did not match the civil registry. It was decided that their cases would be adjudicated after the election. After consultations between the main political parties, a final voters list of 5.73 million persons was announced, and on September 9 President Gbagbo ordered by decree that national identity cards to be issued to the listed persons. In accordance with the OPA and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1826 July 2008, among others, SRSG Choi certified the final voters list.220
Positive momentum toward finalizing the voter rolls was accompanied by progress in setting out an election timeline. On August 5, Prime Minister Soro announced that, as proposed by the IEC, a first round of presidential elections would be held on October 31, 2010, and a presidential decree was signed enacting the date in law. In late August, the IEC announced a schedule for completing outstanding elections preparation tasks, and attention turned to completing them. Key tasks included:
the distribution of 11,658,719 identity and voters cards; the establishment of the electoral map of 10,179 polling sites and 20,073 polling stations; the identification, recruitment and training of 66,000 polling staff; the coordination of electoral observers; the transportation of the electoral material; the establishment of a results tally centre; and the provision of security for the election.221
The two month timeline for accomplishing these tasks was tight and—given Côte d’Ivoire’s lengthy history of technical and political delays regarding accomplishment of election administration tasks—the potential risk of further electoral delays or operational failures, especially in remote areas, was high. In general, however, the remaining electoral process progressed smoothly, with the exception of one significant controversy. On October 21, the IEC announced plans to manually tabulate polling station results, rather than do so electronically, as previously planned, after some IEC members and opposition candidates asserted that the electronic tabulation contractor, SILS Technology, might be biased due to the close ties of a company official to Gbagbo’s FPI party. After consultations between Choi, the representative of the OPA Facilitator, and the IEC spurred by worries that manual tabulation would likely delay vote counting past the legally required three-day deadline, the IEC agreed to implement the original electronic tabulation plan. However, this process was subjected to oversight by a committee of experts.222
Final preparations for poll day—which were the responsibility of the IEC but, as with significant portions of earlier tasks, were substantially carried out by UNOCI—were not completed until just prior to polling.223 The joint distribution of voter and national identity cards by the IEC and the National Identification Office (ONI) began on October 6. These materials were transported by UNOCI to individual polling stations. By October 19, 83% of voter cards had been distributed in the commercial capital, Abidjan, but only 40% had been distributed in other areas of the country.224 Distribution of ballot boxes and other polling materials took place between October 8 and 11 October, and sensitive electoral materials—ballot papers, indelible ink, and electoral documents—began on October 23.
A two-day training of the 66,000 polling station workers took place in the final four days prior to the vote; most poll workers received their training less than 48 hours prior to the start of polling.225 According to the Carter Center, limited voter education outreach posters and similar information tools were produced by the IEC, but in practice, voter education was largely delegated by the IEC to “external actors including civil society, political parties, and the international community,” and on polling day, little information on voting procedures was reportedly available to voters.226 During the run-up to polling, UNOCI’s public service radio station, covering 75% the national territory, broadcast “continuous information on the electoral process in five national languages” and gave “equal broadcast time to all candidates for campaign statements.”227 The limited scope of voter education, and the distribution of public education appears to have been reflected in national variations in the incidence of invalid balloting, which ranged from 2.34% in Abidjan to much higher levels in the remote, social services-poor north, such as 8.58% in the northeastern Zanzan region.228
Election security—given the importance of the poll to the peace process and threats by militia and other elements to disrupt the electoral process—was a key challenge. The OPA had provided for the creation of an entity known as the Integrated Command Centre (ICC), to be comprised of 8,000 mixed gendarmerie brigades and police units made up of jointly deployed government and FN force members. Under the OPA, the ICC was to be responsible for providing security during the elections. ICC units had few resources and limited operational capacities, however, and only slightly more than 1,000 men, about two-thirds from the government side and about a third from the FN, had been assigned to the ICC by prior to the election. In addition, the FN elements were not receiving salaries, unlike their government counterparts, creating morale problems.
While responsibility for elections security formally remained a responsibility of national authorities—and while the FN and the government deployed an additional 5,300 police and gendarmes to the ICC at the last minute, on October 30 (2,500 and 2,800, respectively)—in light of the ICC’s limited capacity, UNOCI played a major role in providing security for the elections process. UNOCI’s efforts were aided by the U.N.-sanctioned French Operation Licorne military force. To help ensure a secure election, on September 29, the UNSC passed Resolution 1942, authorizing a six-month, 500-person plus-up of UNOCI’s military and police strength, bringing the total force size from 8,650 to 9,150.229
The two-week official electoral campaign, which was extensively preceded by technically prohibited informal campaigning, began on October 15. The leading contenders, Gbagbo, Ouattara, and Henri Konan Bédié, a former head of state, campaigned nationwide, while the remaining 11 lesser candidates focused their campaigns in their political base areas. The campaign was generally peaceful, with some limited exceptions involving “isolated acts of violence, provocation and vandalism, including tearing down campaign posters” and clashes between party militants in several towns.230 Political tensions also arose as a result of a sometimes provocative media environment and as a result of heated rhetoric by party supporters. UNOCI reported that while access to state media remained uneven, and that “some opposition candidates … denounced alleged unequal media coverage of the candidates by State-controlled media, candidates’ access to State media significantly improved during the official electoral campaign, in comparison to the preceding period.”231
The ruling FPI also reportedly claimed that it lacked access to FN-controlled media in the northern part of the country, notably to the FN-controlled television station TV Notre Patrie. A regional think tank reported that “it is clear that prior to the campaigning period some candidates particularly the incumbent, used their advantageous positions in using public media to reach supporters.”232 Several high-level foreign delegations toured the country during the campaign period to monitor the campaign and urge Ivoirians to conduct a peaceful election.233 Political parties generally appeared to observe a political party code of good conduct that 40 parties had signed in 2008.234 Prior to the first round, members of the Houphouëtist Rally for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) coalition, which includes the Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) and Ouattara’s Rally of the Republicans (RDR) and two other parties, mutually pledged to jointly support whichever of their two leading candidates eventually stood against Gbagbo in the event of a run-off vote.
The First and Second Round Polls
Voting during the first round vote on October 31—which featured a historically high 83.7% voter participation rate, with 4.84 million voters out of 5.78 million registered going to the polls—was generally peaceful. Polling was observed by a 14-member civil society observer group, the Civil Society Coalition for Peace and Democratic Development in Côte d’Ivoire (COSOPCI) and some affiliated organizations, such as the Convention of Civil Society of Côte d’Ivoire (CSCI). It was also monitored by international observers, including the Carter Center and the European Union.235
Polling generally proceeded smoothly, in part due to the use of a single ballot and a scheme in which each polling station served a maximum of 400 voters, although it was reportedly marred, in some cases by technical failures.236 The vote tallying process reportedly took place transparently and in accordance with applicable regulations. It proceeded slowly in some instances, however, due to lack of transportation, some failures of the electronic tabulation transmission system, and the refusal of some polling staff to transmit official results prior to receiving stipend payments. There were a very limited, statistically insignificant number of tallying irregularities reported, and in some instances, observers were illicitly barred from monitoring vote counting.237
The three top vote-earning candidates were:
- Gbagbo, of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), running as the candidate of the Presidential Majority (LMP) coalition, who won, 756,504 votes, or a 38.04% vote share;
- Ouattara, of the Rally of the Republicans (RDR), who won 1,481,091 votes, or a 32.07% share; and
- Bédié, of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), who garnered 1,165,532 votes, or a 25.24% share.
The next highest vote-earner was Mabri Toikeusse Albert, of the Union for Democracy and Peace in Côte d’Ivoire (UDPCI), who won 2.57% of votes cast. No other candidate won more than a 0.37% vote share. Since no candidate won an absolute majority of votes cast (i.e. over 50% of votes, as required by the Ivoirian electoral code), a second round was required.238
The IEC released initial partial results on November 2, and on November 3, Bédié’s PDCI party asserted that there had been irregularities and non-transparency in tallying, resulting in inaccurate results. It called for the IEC to stop issuing provisional results and requested a vote recount. On November 4, IEC released complete provisional results.239 The PDCI’s demand of a recount, underpinned by protest demonstrations by PDCI supporters, was joined by the UDPCI party on November 4 and on November 6 by the RHDP coalition, which alleged that “serious irregularities” had occurred during the first round. The Constitutional Council reportedly claimed, counter to the assertions of opposition applicants, that no appeals were filed within the legal time frame. It effectively dismissed all allegations of irregularities by certifying the IEC’s announced provisional results. After having assessed the entire first round election process, SRSG Choi certified the Constitutional Council-vetted first round results on November 12.240
Contesting Electoral Disputes: Procedural Lacunae
The Carter Center contends that there exists a “weakness in the legal provisions for election complaints [which] gives candidates only three days following the close of polls to submit their petition. In the event that the IEC uses all three days to announce preliminary results, candidates may be left with little or no time to assess the results should they wish to submit a complaint about irregularities in the results process”—a circumstance that occurred, with dire consequences, during the second round. In addition, the Center observed, the electoral system provides little guidance on how possible electoral irregularities are to be resolved—a shortcoming that also negatively affected assessments of the legitimacy of the Constitutional Council’s decision-making after the runoff poll. The Carter Center observed that “though the constitution assigns the Constitutional Council the authority to proclaim final official results, neither the constitution nor the electoral law provides any definitional guidance on the nature of irregularities or how the council may consider them in the event that it annuls an election result. Constitutional Council decisions are final and not subject to appeal.”241
The Constitutional Council initially scheduled the runoff vote for November 21, counter to standing IEC plans for it to be held on November 28, but on November 9, Prime Minister Soro announced that the cabinet had decided that due to technical and logistical challenges, the second round would be held as originally planned by the IEC. President Gbagbo fixed the date in law by decree. On November 10, the IEC scheduled the second round electoral campaign between November 20 and 26. On November 7, Bédié called for his supporters to vote for Ouattara in the second round, as per the RHDP coalition’s pre-electoral agreement, and on November 10, Ouattara publicly promised to form a union government with Bédié if he won the runoff. In a later debate he also pledged to appoint FPI ministers. In the second round, Gbagbo, running as the candidate of the Presidential Majority (LMP) coalition, ran against Ouattara, who ran as the candidate of the RHDP.
The Carter Center reported that, as in the first round campaign, technically prohibited informal campaigning occurred prior to the official campaign period. The campaign also featured, for the first time ever in Côte d’Ivoire, a live debate that was broadcast nationally on November 25. The debate, a two hour and fifteen minute forum, was wide-ranging and substantive. Both candidates used the occasion to appeal for a peaceful democratic election and use of non-violence to achieve political ends. The first half focused primarily on differences between the two candidates’ views of the Ivoirian conflict, the stalled peace process, and the election of 2000, in which Gbagbo came to power. The latter portion highlighted policy differences between the two rivals and their respective policy agendas, focusing on such issues as deficiencies in the judicial system and state structure, military reform, and economic and social services policy. Notably, Ouattara pledged to establish a truth and reconciliation commission if elected.242
Despite the substantive tone of the debate and the two candidates’ appeals for peace and national reconciliation, the Carter Center reported that the runoff poll took place
against the background of a tense and often negative campaign. Long-standing disputes about national identity issues and land ownership were … inflamed by negative political rhetoric and fueled by a partisan media. Sporadic incidents of violence, including several deaths, occurred in the days preceding the election and on election day itself.
It also stated that “the run-off climate quickly degenerated with widespread communication strategies based essentially on negative portrayals of the opposing camp and the use of politically affiliated newspapers to spread rumors.”243
Clashes between opposed youth party militants occurred in several places in the days leading up the poll, and at least seven people were reported killed in political violence in Abidjan on the day before the vote, while at least two were killed in northern Côte d’Ivoire on polling day.244 According to SRSG Choi, during the second round, state-controlled media, as in the first round, provided “unbalanced” coverage before and after the official electoral campaign, but “generally guaranteed equal access to the two presidential candidates” during the campaign. He also noted that “major political parties[‘] … newspapers… enjoyed complete freedom of press before, during and after the election.”245
In light of the rising tension associated with the runoff vote, the government and the FN deployed 4,000 troops to join the integrated command center prior to the vote. Plans called for an additional 1,500 government soldiers to be deployed to FN-controlled areas, to be accompanied by 500 FN soldiers, while 1,500 FN troops would deploy to government-held areas and be joined by 500 government troops. President Gbagbo also imposed a curfew after 11 PM on the day of the poll to ensure the security of ballot box returns and freedom of movement for the security forces.246
The Carter Center and other vote-monitoring groups reported that substantial improvements in poll worker training and administration were made in support of the runoff poll, and that logistics in support of the polling improved compared to those provided during the first round. The Carter Center also reported that while “voting and counting operations were largely well-conducted by polling station officials,” many of the same deficiencies relating to the supply and distribution of election materials that occurred during the first poll were reiterated during the runoff. The Carter mission also reported that an IEC order that tabulation results be publicly displayed at local precincts was applied in only about half of the locations it monitored.
According to the United Nations, voting reportedly generally proceeded peacefully and transparently, was “generally conducted in a democratic climate;” featured a voter turnout of 81.1%—nearly as high as that during the first round. There reportedly were, however, “some incidents, which were at times violent;” “isolated disruptions,” including electoral violence; and irregularities in a small minority of polling places.247 The Carter Center, like the European Union (EU) observation mission, also reported witnessing acts of “potential voter intimidation in some five percent of the polling stations visited a higher level than was reported for the first round, and perhaps a reflection of the hardened tactics of the run-off campaign.” Similarly, its findings stated that it had received but not witnessed “serious election day irregularities occurred after the close of polling stations [reported to include] … cases of efforts to obstruct the physical transfer of ballot boxes and results, the destruction of election materials, and the theft of ballot boxes.”248
A Contested Runoff
On the runoff polling day, the Gbagbo and Ouattara camps accused one other of orchestrating electoral irregularities, voter intimidation, or actions aimed at blocking voters from accessing polls. Some complaints of this nature were confirmed by European Union election observers.249 This outcome was not surprising, even though the vast majority of polling had occurred without problems. The possibility that the election would be controversial had long been predicted by analysts, given the longstanding difficulties encountered in conducting a poll, the use of the slogan “we win or we win” by Gbagbo supporters, and pre-election statements by supporters of Gbagbo and Ouattara that they would never accept a win by their rival.250
Many observers believed that Gbagbo would not have agreed to allow voting to occur unless he felt assured of a win, for example, on the basis that he felt that the opposition would not remain united during a runoff vote; because he believed that electoral institutions and legal process were structured in his favor; and a belief the international community, in a desire for an end to the Ivoirian crisis, might accept some flaws in the polling process. If this analysis is correct, the current crisis suggests that he miscalculated regarding multiple factors: strong electoral opposition to his continued incumbency; the strength of international support for the OPA and the role of U.N. certification vis-à-vis Ivoirian legal processes (i.e., the role of the Constitutional Council); and the unwillingness of the international community—to date—to alter the election outcome through a negotiated resolution to the crisis, despite the threat of political violence.251
An early indication that the vote would, in fact, be legally contested emerged the day after polling, when Gbagbo’s campaign manager announced plans to contest the results in at least three heavily pro-Ouattara districts in the north.252 On December 1, the Gbagbo campaign formally filed five applications for the annulment of the second round of balloting in eight northern departments “because of serious irregularities in the integrity of the poll.” These related primarily to allegations of the absence of LMP representatives at the polls, including through acts of kidnapping or physical obstruction; ballot stuffing; transport of ballot tally sheets by unauthorized persons; establishment of impediments to voting; a lack of voting booths and of guaranteed secret suffrage; and the misattribution of unearned or fictitious votes to Ouattara. The Constitutional Council then reviewed the results and on December 3 overturned the findings of the IEC, as discussed above, and proclaimed Gbagbo winner of the election.253
Appendix B. Background to the Crisis
As discussed in the body of this report (see text box “Côte d’Ivoire: Country Overview”), in the mid-1980s, demands for increased democratization, periodic social unrest, and political tensions emerged. Long-term cocoa price and production declines, growing national debt, austerity measures, and pressures on land, in particular new tree cropping land for cocoa, which contributed to a gradual economic decline in Côte d’Ivoire, helped foster these political dynamics. While economic decline underpinned these tensions, social competition increasingly began to be expressed through ethnic, regional, and religious identity. The large, mostly Muslim populations of immigrant workers and northern Ivoirians resident in the south faced increasing resistance by southern ethnic groups and the state to their full participation in national civic life and rights to citizenship. These developments set the stage for subsequent political developments and contributed to the 2002 rebellion and the years of political impasse that followed.
Houphouët, who died in December 1993, was immediately succeeded by the president of parliament, Henri Konan Bédié. He declared himself president, in accordance with provisions in the 1990 constitution, even though then-Prime Minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara—a former World Bank economist who had held his post since it was created in 1990—was widely seen as Houphouët’s designated successor. Ouattara initially contested Bédié’s succession claim, but resigned as prime minister after the French government accepted the claim and left the country, taking up a position as Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. He remained a key political figure, however. In mid-1994 Ouattara supporters—predominantly northern Muslims, intellectuals, and young professionals, and defectors from the reformist wing of the ruling Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI)—formed a new political party, the Republican Rally (RDR) that became a vehicle for Ouattara’s later return to Ivoirian electoral politics in 1995. Employing his influence over Houphouët’s PDCI, Bédié began to consolidate his own power base, in part by replacing Ouattara allies with loyalists, and by assuming the PDCI chairmanship in1994.
Bédié emphasized the close linkages and sources of continuity between his government and the system he had inherited from Houphouët, but many observers saw him as a considerably less effective leader than Houphouët. Bédié also ushered in a transformation of Ivoirian politics that helped spur the later division of the country. Increasingly, Bédié was accused by critics of blaming immigrants for many of the country’s problems, and of fueling public anti-immigrant sentiments. He used these divisions to rally political support, making use of a nationalist ideology known as Ivoirité. It defined southerners as “authentic” Ivoirians, in opposition to “circumstantial” ones, that is, northerners and immigrants, and helped initiate the later evolution of ultra-nationalist, xenophobic political views among some in the south. It also helped fuel increasingly volatile national politics encompassing electoral competition; military, student, and labor unrest; conflict over land and residency rights; and periodic mass protests, some violent, over economic and other issues.
The 1995 Election, Candidate Eligibility, and the Nationality Issue
The Bédié government again increased its power after presidential elections in October 1995, which were held under a controversial electoral law passed by the PDCI-dominated parliament just prior to the elections, prompting several mass demonstrations calling for electoral transparency. Bédié won 95% of the vote, but the electoral process and outcome was vocally protested by opposition parties, on the grounds that the electoral law had been specifically engineered to exclude Ouattara. The electoral law barred persons lacking “pure” Ivoirian parentage and those who had resided abroad during the previous five years from standing as electoral candidates. Ouattara was disqualified from standing in the poll because he had resided in the United States while working for the IMF from December 1993, and was of alleged mixed Burkinabe-Ivoirian descent. The opposition FPI presidential candidate Laurent Gbagbo, for his part, withdrew from the race, alleging that the electoral process was subject to extensive state manipulation. Despite continuing ire over the presidential election, the political environment became less volatile after peaceful legislative elections in November that drew cross-party participation. The PDCI won a decisive victory, taking 149 of the 175 seats; the remaining ones were split between the FPI (9) and the RDR (14). The vote showed distinct ethno-regional divisions in voting patterns, with the RDR gaining and the PDCI losing support in the north, while Gbagbo’s FPI predominated in the central-west region and the PDCI in urban areas and in central and western parts of the country.
Bédié continued to pursue efforts to consolidate his power. In January 1996, the cabinet was shuffled; military General Robert Guéï, who had previously been relieved of his military command post after being appointed Minister of Employment and Civil Service in October 1995, was made Minister of Sports. In May 1996, following news reports that there had been a coup attempt planned by restive soldiers in mid-1995, the army leadership was shaken up. Guéï was demoted to a minor administrative post because the planned coup was attributed to elements under his former command. The latter part of Bédié’s tenure was beset by accusations of human rights abuses associated with security force crackdowns on the opposition; student protests; economic pressures; and accusations of corruption by domestic critics and donor governments.
In 1998, the National Assembly passed a series of constitutional changes viewed as highly favorable to the incumbent. They increased executive control of elections, extended the presidential term of office, and codified in the constitution nationalities laws defining political candidacy requirements. Candidates were required to be Ivoirian by birth, parentage, and to have lived continuously in Côte d’Ivoire for ten years prior to running.
Ouattara and the Nationality Issue
The 1998 constitutional changes set the stage for political confrontations and conflict in later years. In late 1998, at the funeral of Djeny Kobina, the RDR’s founder, Ouattara called for a change in the electoral nationality laws and announced his intention to run as a presidential candidate in then-upcoming elections in 2000. In August 1999, Ouattara, who had returned to the country in July and secured a certificate confirming his Ivoirian descent, was nominated as the RDR presidential candidate. His nomination prompted a public confrontation between the RDR and the Bédié government. The latter announced its non-acceptance of Ouattara’s claim of nationality, and claimed that it regarded Ouattara as a person of Burkinabe descent, ineligible to hold public office, and vowed to halt possible protests on his behalf. Clashes between police and Ouattara supporters followed a late September judicial police investigation of Ouattara’s citizenship claim.
In October, a court invalidated Ouattara’s nationality certificate, prompting violent protests and detentions of RDR supporters and several key leaders. In November, the government banned public demonstrations. In December, an arrest warrant was issued for Ouattara while he was away from the country in France, where he had been vocally denouncing the government’s actions. The government alleged that he had “forged” his national identity papers. As political unrest over the Bédié-Ouattara rivalry and the nationality issue grew, the Bédié government faced increasing opposition from diverse social groups, and became the subject of vocal public criticism over a series of corruption scandals, on related to the alleged misappropriation of European Union health sector assistance funds. In the latter half of 1999, popular dissatisfaction with the government grew, in the form of ongoing labor protests related to public sector wage arrears, salary demands, and criticism of labor policies, student unrest, and military unrest over conditions of service.
Military Coup of December 1999
Pressures on the Bédié government came to a head when disgruntled soldiers mutinied over pay and living conditions, commandeering public buildings and firing into the air. The government quickly promised to meet their demands, but the mutineers then altered their position, demanding that General Robert Guéï be awarded his former Chief of Staff post, from which he had been removed by Bédié after refusing to crack down on protesters. Guéï, who had a history of strained relations with Bédié, had served as former Chief of Staff from 1990 until 1995 and had founded a rapid commando intervention force that was reportedly at the center of the mutiny, then stepped in as a “spokesman” for the soldiers on the second day of the mutiny, December 24. He announced that the mutineers would establish a National Committee of Public Salvation (CNSP), and that the parliament, government, the Constitutional Council and the Supreme Court were dissolved.
Guéï promised to maintain respect for democracy, eradicate government corruption, re-appropriate funds seized in corrupt dealings, rewrite the Constitution, and hold transparent elections within a year. Bédié, who at first sought refuge in the French embassy, fled to France after a sojourn in Togo. After negotiations, all major political parties, including Bédié’s PDCI, agreed top support the “transitional” CNSP junta, which was established in early 2000. It established a 27-member Consultative Commission on Constitutional and Electoral Matters, composed of representatives of the main political parties, civil society and labor organizations, and religious institutions. This entity drafted proposals for a new constitution and electoral code, which it presented in March 2000 in anticipation of a later referendum on these proposals.
As junta leader, Guéï was initially seen as a pro-Ouattara, partly due to Bédié’s opposition to Ouattara. Many Ivoirians nursed hopes that the Guéï’s administration would bridge the growing ethno-regional divisions in the country and usher in a rapid transition to transparent constitutional civilian rule. Guéï’s hoped-for collegial and consensual leadership, however, developed into a governing style based on top-down commands and a public rhetoric focused on discipline and order. Personal political ambition also came to define his leadership. He made public statements replete with grandiose patriotic rhetoric and flattering self-representations, casting himself as the redeemer of common citizens’ aspirations against the machinations of corrupt politicians, leading some to label him a narcissist. His leadership increasingly came to be seen as motivated by the goal of eliminating perceived rivals in the military, weakening the RDR and the potential for a strong Ouattara candidacy, and getting himself elected into office. In April 2000 he created a political party, the Rassemblement pour le Consensus National (Rally for National Consensus) that was expected to support his candidacy.
The Guéï government began a program to issue national identity cards to citizens and resident permits to foreigners, as a prerequisite for voter registration ahead of elections. The issue was considered sensitive because it was seen as providing a potential means for the state to exclude native-born Ivoirians of northern origins and the Ivoirian-born children of immigrants from participating in the political process. It also would enable officials to formally differentiate between Ivoirians and non-Ivoirians, a point of controversy because ID checks of persons of perceived northern origins and foreign West African economic migrants were reportedly often used to threaten such persons with deportation, refusal of employment, residence, or land rights.
The rule of law also suffered in other ways. In response to public protests against rising crime, the military undertook to arrest criminals directly, especially targeting organized gangs in Abidjan. The use of military forces to enforce civilian criminal law, however, reportedly prompted some members of the military to themselves engage in acts of banditry and highway robbery. Extortion and harassment reportedly became common at military roadblocks. Military indiscipline was not limited to soldiers’ public conduct. In March 2000, soldiers mutinied over salary demands; officers were taken hostage and one base commander was killed.254 In July, troops mutinied over non-payment of $9,000 allotments that they claimed they had been promised by Guéï after the coup of the previous December. Soldiers looted, stole vehicles and weapons, and paralyzed commerce and public services in Abidjan and the secondary cities of Bouaké and Korhogo. The uprising was violently crushed by the gendarmerie following imposition of a curfew and after the negotiation of a far lower allotment payment. Only a fraction of the promised payment was subsequently made, due to government insolvency, and over 50 of hundreds of mutineers were court marshaled. Urban infrastructure damage due to the rebellion was extensive.
Key Political Developments in 2000
In July 2000, constitutional changes were approved by an 87% margin in a referendum that featured a 57% voter participation rate. While northerners voted strongly (68%) against the changes, a widespread boycott of the vote in the north meant that voter turnout in that region was low. The provisions required that both parents of presidential candidates be Ivoirian-born citizens; previously only one parent had been required to be of Ivoirian birth. Also in July, an RDR party event was halted by security forces and an RDR demonstration in support of French statements cautioning against the exclusion of candidates was broken up. As the year proceeded, harassment of Muslims and northerners by security officials reportedly increased. In August, Guéï launched a failed bid to become the PDCI presidential candidate, and he later announced plans to run as a “people’s candidate.” Later in August, RDR supporters and their opponents clashed after security forces halted an RDR demonstration, and elections slated for September were postponed until October.
As the election drew nearer, public security deteriorated. Harassment of immigrants by security forces reportedly increased. In September, the High Council of Imams (CSI) and National Islamic Council (CNI) warned that unfair restrictions on electoral eligibility would result in social unrest. They also condemned official harassment of northerners and Muslims, and later called for a boycott of the election, after Ouattara was excluded. During pre-poll voter registration, nationality documentation restrictions prevented many northerners from registering as new voters. On September 18, an attack on Guéï’s residence was suppressed. The attack, a putative attempted putsch and assassination by members of the military and his own presidential guard, was suspected by some observers to be have been mounted by Guéï himself as a pretext to purge the military of perceived opponents and undercut political opposition to his candidacy. After the incident, a state of emergency was declared and political meetings were banned, and a number of predominantly northern soldiers were arrested; some were reportedly summarily executed, while others reportedly were tortured.
In October, the Supreme Court, headed by Tia Kone, a former personal legal advisor to Guéï, declared 14 of 19 prospective presidential candidates ineligible to run, including six PDCI candidates. Included among them was Bédié and the PDCI’s official presidential nominee, Emile Bombet, due to embezzlement allegations in both cases, and Ouattara. Only Guéï and the FPI’s Gbagbo, along with three minor candidates, were allowed to run. Guéï opponents claimed that the Supreme Court should also have banned Guéï’s candidacy because military law required him to resign from the military six months prior to the election. Guéï had not met that requirement, and when a newspaper reporter raised the question in an article, the reporter was beaten by the presidential guard. A similar legal question was raised in relation to the candidacy of Gbagbo, whose status as a state employee may have made him technically ineligible to run.
October 2000 Election
After further electoral controversies, including a suspension of U.S. and European Union (EU) election aid and a call by the RDR and PDCI for an election boycott, polling was held on October 22. Extensive violence, which revealed how deep-seated ethno-regional and religious divisions had become, followed the poll. On October 23, the FPI, claiming that the election had been rigged by Guéï and that Gbagbo had won, initiated large street protests, which were joined by elements of the security forces. In the face of Gbagbo’s claim to victory, Ouattara and the RDR demanded that the election be re-run. This demand prompted clashes between FPI and RDR supporters, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. Gbagbo’s victory was ratified days later by the Supreme Court, which awarded him 53% of the vote. The clashes quickly took on an ethnic and religious tone; Muslim neighborhoods, seen as hotbeds of RDR support, were attacked by FPI supporters, and several mosques were damaged or destroyed, as was a church in retaliation. Many members of the security forces joined in these attacks, and were later accused of human rights abuses after 57 bodies were later discovered in Yopougon, an area outside Abidjan. All of the victims, later identified as northern Muslims, had been shot at close range. At least 18 bodies were also pulled from the lagoon surrounding Abidjan soon after the FPI-RDR clashes. Some of these victims were reported to have been Gbagbo supporters fired upon by members of the presidential guard as they marched on the presidential compound. Some were reportedly forced to jump off bridges, where many drowned. Less extensive incidents of election unrest also occurred in several secondary cities.
Gbagbo’s Rise to Power: Analysis
Many analyses of the 200 election and the political developments preceding it interpreted Gbagbo’s win as a reflection of Guéï’s weaknesses as a leader who had come to power by circumstance, when restive troops agreed to accept his leadership, and who was subsequently blinded by a magnanimous self-view. According such views, Guéï was not politically astute, and did not understand the import of the political events taking place around him—especially the rhetoric and actions of Gbagbo, who he initially appeared to view as an ally against Ouattara and the RDR. Guéï was reportedly convinced that he was the subject of machinations by a northerners aiming to grab power at his expense, and later by the FPI and the PDCI and their core southern ethnic constituencies. Early in his tenure Guéï had initiated a purge of northerners in the military, and later ended the participation of the RDR in the CNSP junta, while FPI and the PDCI were more fully incorporated into the CNSP, while the number of public political attacks on Ouattara on the basis of his citizenship grew. These developments appeared to strengthen Gbagbo’s hand, leaving him as the most prominent national civilian candidate for president following the October 7 Supreme Court decision barring 14 of 19 candidates.
Some news reports suggested that Gbagbo and Guéï had agreed on a deal in which Gbagbo would become president of parliament if he lost. Guéï’s weak political base, however, allowed Gbagbo to win the poll, in the wake of which Guéï reportedly claimed to have been double crossed by Gbagbo. Analysis of the election and the preceding 10 months of junta rule, however, suggests that Guéï likely underestimated Gbagbo’s political ambition and his prowess as a political operator and orchestrator of political pressure through mass protest action. While the participation of Gbagbo’s FPI in the CNSP junta may have suggested to Guéï that Gbagbo was an ally, Gbagbo, a former union activist, had been a key leader of large cross-party coalition street protests against the government that had been instrumental in moving Côte d’Ivoire toward a multi-party system. Under his leadership, the FPI had been one of the first opposition parties to organize against Houphouët, against whom Gbagbo ran in the 1990, winning 18% of the vote. Similarly, the FPI’s coalition with RDR in 1995 to protest the structuring of electoral system in favor of the ruling party showed him to be a shrewd but expedient political deal maker who was willing to make and break alliances to meet his political goals.
Gbagbo’s win in 2000 can also be attributed to his skill as a political strategist. The FPI was well organized during the October 2000 election, and was the only major party to run a candidate. The FPI deployed monitors at many polling places, and was able to accurately track vote returns prior to the release of official results, giving legitimacy to its claim to have won around 60% of the vote, despite electoral irregularities—including the abduction of the country’s chief electoral officer during the vote tabulation. Gbagbo appeared to anticipate the Guéï junta’s attempt to manipulate the election results, and when Guéï tried to claim victory, Gbagbo was able to counter his actions, cite poll evidence allowing him represent himself as the legitimate election winner, and then rapidly mount forceful street protests to support his claims, ultimately causing the junta to fall. His party’s domination of the course of post-election election events, before other opposition parties could do the same, allowed Gbagbo to claim victory and then capitalize upon it as a fait accompli. The RDR and the PDCI could do little except either accept an offer by Gbagbo for them to join his government—or to reject it and risk being frozen out of power. The RDR, the party of Ouattara, Gbagbo’s most prominent rival, eventually accepted Gbagbo’s election, but did not agree to join the government, in contrast to the other two main parties, the PDCI and the PIT.
While Gbagbo was able to accede to the presidency, his win can be attributed mainly to popular resentment toward and repudiation of the Guéï junta, rather than overwhelming political support for himself, and as a product of a flawed electoral process of which he was the chance beneficiary. The election was widely seen as illegitimate in light of the pre-poll prohibition on the candidacy of 14 of 19 presidential contenders—including of the two major parties, representing an estimated 75% of the electorate in previous elections—in response to which large portions of the electorate boycotted the poll. Only 35% of the total electorate reportedly voted, which implied that Gbagbo’s 53% electoral margin win effectively meant that he was elected with the support of only about 19% of the total national electorate. In addition, the pre-election process had been replete with a variety of problems, including technically electoral preparation failures, extensive harassment of RDR supporters, and disenfranchisement of voters through voter registration barriers and administrative inefficiencies, and polling day was marred by violence and reports that soldiers had forced civilians to mark ballot papers in favor of Guéï. As a result of the thinness of his electoral mandate and because the 2000 election was widely viewed as having been manipulated by the Guéï junta and plagued by pre-poll and polling day irregularities, the legitimacy of Gbagbo’s election was arguably open to question from the day he was elected.
Gbagbo Government Takes Power
The new government faced a number of immediate tasks that required Gbagbo to rapidly transition from being an opposition leader whose legitimacy derived from his position as an outsider and popular street activist to becoming a national leader capable of integrating the diverse and conflicting interests of a divided nation. First, the government had to launch a credible investigation into responsibility for the deaths during the elections—especially the cases of summary mass execution.255 Its other most important immediate task was to hold a free and fair legislative election, and to prove that the FPI was not a minority party, as its detractors claimed, while the former ruling party, the PDCI, was under pressure to demonstrate that it remained a viable party.
The legislative election was held with decidedly mixed success, primarily related to Ouattara’s disqualification as a parliamentary candidate by the Supreme Court, on the basis that his nationality certificate was technically invalid. Ouattara’s RDR boycotted the polls, rejecting what it called the Gbagbo’s “sham reconciliation process,” and mounted protests. The RDR’s actions had a significant effect. In Abidjan, large and violent RDR protests were held. In the north, prefectures and constabulary stations were attacked, and the vote was widely boycotted. Ouattara’s disqualification prompted international concern over the poll’s validity, and major international organizations and donor governments did not deploy election monitoring missions. Despite such obstacles, voting went smoothly nationwide, except in the north, where elections could be held in only four of 32 electoral districts, due to attacks on election equipment and the subjection of election officials to intimidation. In the south, by contrast, voting was peaceful but the turnout rate was low, at about 34%. A by-election was held in the north in January 2001. While calls by the RDR for another boycott resulted in very high abstention rate (about 87%), the poll went forward peacefully, in part due to close supervision and heavy security, despite being held in a tense atmosphere one week after an attempted coup.
Despite rising political tensions and social cleavages, in 2001 and 2002 there were signs that Côte d’Ivoire was beginning to make limited progress toward national reconciliation and political compromise. In late 2001, a National Reconciliation Forum, in which all of the major parties, constituencies, and key leaders participated, was organized by the government. It focused on barriers toward national unity, governance, civil-military relations, immigration, and ethno-regional and religious divisions.
September 2002 Rebellion
Guarded optimism by many over the country’s prospects was undermined on September 19, 2002, when a military rebellion quickly turned into an attempted coup d’état against the government while Gbagbo was on an official visit to Italy. The rebels, made up of units of aggrieved soldiers, predominantly of northern ethnic origins, were opposed by loyalist units, predominantly southern in their ethnic makeup.256 Although a military takeover of the key government institutions and facilities was prevented by loyalist forces, the insurrection rapidly broadened an existing national fissure between north and south. During the initial uprising, Guéï was killed under unclear circumstances.
After clashes with loyalists near the commercial capital, Abidjan, and elsewhere, the rebel units gradually withdrew to the central city of Bouaké and from there rapidly took control of over half of the country. They then formed a political organization called the Patriotic Movement of Côte d’Ivoire (MPCI, after the French), and began to articulate a political agenda and lay out demands, and reportedly appointed provincial governors. The MPCI took control of local administration in northern rebel-held territory, and civil and commercial life reportedly resumed a relatively routine character after being disrupted by population shifts and displacements. The provision of social services, however, sharply declined under rebel administration, and never recovered fully.
Periodic, sometimes fierce fighting ensued, as the government unsuccessfully attempted to retake towns along the north-south dividing line. The MPCI also allied itself with two small rebel groups in western Côte d’Ivoire. The groups, which reportedly included many Liberians and Sierra Leonean combatants, announced their existence in November 2002 by seizing several towns in the west. In late 2002, early 2003, and periodically since, the west has been the scene of armed clashes over territory; communal violence related to immigrants’ land and residency rights; and criminal armed violence. International peacekeepers also clashed with the western rebels in the first several years after the rebellion.
The country remained divided and often tense in the years after the uprising, but military conflict generally subsided after 2002, with some notable exceptions (e.g., periodic but localized armed conflict in the west; occasional ceasefire line provocations; and a brief resumption of warfare in late 2004). International conflict mediation efforts, notably by ECOWAS, began soon after the rebellion, but made little progress until early 2003, when a French-brokered peace accord, the Linas-Marcoussis Accord (LMA), was signed. It allowed Gbagbo to remain in power, but provided for the creation of an interim government of national reconciliation (GNR) under a “consensus” prime minister. The LMA charged the GNR with preparing for presidential elections in 2005 and reforming the armed forces with external aid to ensure ethnic and regional balance in the military. It required the disarming of all armed forces, the expulsion of foreign mercenaries, and the creation of an international LMA monitoring group. An LMA annex set out a roadmap for resolving key issues underlying the crisis. It called for reform of electoral candidacy and citizenship eligibility rules, the electoral system, and land tenure and press laws; creation of a human rights abuse panel; and freedom of movement and post-war economic recovery planning.
No War, No Peace
The LMA was immediately opposed—vocally and with violence, including assaults on French-owned businesses and homes—by partisans of Gbagbo’s FPI party and elements of the military and government. They asserted that it ceded too much power and made too many other concessions to the rebels. Gbagbo, under pressure to repudiate the LMA, indicated that he had signed it reluctantly under intense foreign pressure. These and later remarks hindered implementation of the LMA, which was later amended by a series of internationally mediated accords, though its basic provisions remained a keystone of most of these later agreements.
Factors Underlying the Rebellion
According to many analysts, the 2002 rebellion was initiated as a military protest over working conditions, pay, and manpower reductions, but turned into a coup d’état by dissatisfied elements in the military. It is possible, however, that the rebellion’s organizers planned to oust the Gbagbo government and simply used military terms-of-service grievances as a subterfuge to disguise their real intentions. Even after having seized control of much of the north, however, the rebels appeared to lack a political justification for their actions, suggesting that the political dimensions of their efforts first crystallized after they had taken control. On the other hand, the rebels’ ability to mount a rapid, coordinated, nationwide military action suggests that significant planning may have preceded the rebellion.
While the origins of the rebellion continue to be debated, once it had occurred, it provided a vehicle for the expression of grievances and political demands associated with or spurred by a wide range of interdependent and long-standing phenomena. These include:
- Long-term economic decline related to decreasing commodity prices for Côte d’Ivoire’s key export commodities, cocoa and coffee (despite later price increases);
- Cocoa production problems, including aging tree stocks, declining access to new crop land, a continuing need for reinvestment in the sector; corruption in the cocoa parastatal sector; and a restructuring of the cocoa marketing system, which was liberalized in 1999;257
- Ethno-regional competition and conflict related to diverse factors, including shrinking access to arable land, farming and residence rights, competition over employment opportunities, especially in the southern cocoa belt—both between Ivoirians and foreigners, and between native Ivoirian groups.258
- Military interference in civilian affairs and governance;
- Public corruption;
- National political leadership rivalries, in some cases reportedly aggravated by inter-personal hostilities;
- Long-term struggles over democratization, rights of political participation and expression, and conflict over national identity and rights of citizenship;
- Periodic labor and military protests related to salary payment arrears and working conditions; and
- Student unrest related to a variety of factors, such as student assistance, democratization, and electoral politics.
Although influenced by multiple factors, one of the primary grievances cited by those in the rebel north was their marginalization within and exclusion from the political process, most notably in relation to the repeated denial of candidate eligibility rights to Ouattara, the most prominent politician of northern ethnic origins. Although the rebels asserted that they were fighting for the rights of all Ivoirians—and not on behalf of northerners vis-à-vis southerners or Ouattara specifically—Ouattara’s repeated exclusion had long fueled northerners’ political grievances and sense of disenfranchisement, and was a key factor underpinning the rebellion’s durability.
From early 2003 through early 2007, the two sides endeavored to implement the provisions of the LMA and subsequent peace agreements by pursuing a range of political and legal reform processes and reaching various agreements to achieve military and militia disarmament and demobilization. Focal issues included the sequence and manner in which disarmament, voter registration, citizen identification, and elections would take place; the content of proposed laws aimed at implementing the key provisions of the LMA and other agreements, and the manner in which they would be enacted; and differences over the scope and exercise of presidential authority.
These efforts were overseen and sometimes led by two consensus prime ministers. The first was Seydou Diarra, appointed in 2003 after the LMA was signed. Charles Konan Banny succeeded Diarra in December 2005 after a crisis over delayed national elections and an internationally endorsed, non-electoral extension of Gbagbo’s tenure in office for a year. During this period, notably under Banny’s tenure, talks and other cooperative efforts between the opposed parties sometimes resulted in significant progress toward the key goals set forth in the various peace accords. Such progress was, however, often interspersed with and undercut by political backtracking and obstructionism by one or both parties, political gridlock, and frequent accusations by one or both sides charging their opponent with undermining progress toward peace, often spurred by incendiary political rhetoric and partisan journalism. Similarly, mediation efforts by external governments or U.N. officials, while sometimes nominally successful, were often criticized by one or both sides as being biased.
Armed conflict briefly flared on several occasions, most notably in November 2004, when a government attempt to attack the north was repulsed by French and U.N. troops. This effort included an air attack on a French base (see text box “France’s Military Presence in Côte d’Ivoire” in body of report). Mass protests, sometimes including violent mob actions, subsequently periodically punctuated the conflict. The political division of the country also led to breakdowns in law and order, frequent impunity for security officials accused of human rights abuses and other crimes, and a rise in corruption.
Due to the weak rule of law, local officials on both sides of the conflict reportedly gained access to and at times diverted official revenues. Such funding sources have taken the form of official taxes and fees and illicit, extortion-based payments, from such sources as domestic and international trade in goods, travelers, state-controlled firms; agricultural commodity sales, notably in the key cocoa sector; and illicit diamond exports. Access to such revenue streams was long seen as undermining political support for a quick resolution of the conflict.
International Peacekeeping Role
The international community supported the LMA and later subsidiary agreements, notably through resolutions by the U.N. Security Council. The council first endorsed the LMA in early 2003, when it authorized two peacekeeping force deployments, one French and one by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), dubbed ECOMICI. They were charged with helping to implement the LMA and a May 2003 ceasefire accord; resolving the conflict; guaranteeing their own security and freedom of movement; and protecting civilians. In May 2003, after fighting in the west, the Security Council created a U.N. Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI), a political and military monitoring mission. In early 2004, the Security Council authorized the U.N. Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which took over MINUCI’s mandate and incorporated the ECOMICI forces in April 2004; see textbox entitled “UNOCI” for more information on the mission.
Peace Process of 2007
A new peace accord, the Ouagadougou Agreement, was signed in March 2007 after opposition party-backed talks mediated by Burkina Faso’s president between President Gbagbo and FN leader Guillaume Soro. The accord was preceded in 2006 by halting progress toward citizen identification; voter registration; disarmament; and some other elements of the peace process, but also by marked tension over these processes and between President Gbagbo and Prime Minister Banny in the wake of an imported toxic waste dumping scandal. Such tension also arose over the two leaders’ conflicting claims regarding their peace process implementation decision-making powers, notably after the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1721, which recognized Banny’s broad power to implement the peace process, but did not, according to Gbagbo’s interpretation, reduce Gbagbo’s constitutional authorities.
The 2007 accord superseded but incorporated all earlier agreements. Under its provisions, FN leader Guillaume Soro became foreign minister. The accord also renewed and amended processes for conducting citizen identification, voter registration, elections (but mandated no election deadline), and provided for the formation of a new transitional government; laid out procedures for disarmament and a merging of the FN and the government military-security structures; created a youth civic service, a political party code of conduct, and an accord monitoring organ made up of the leaders of the top political parties; re-established state structures and authority nation-wide; and requested the lifting of U.N. sanctions and a reduced role for international peacekeepers, who were to be gradually replaced in certain areas by the newly merged security forces. While many of the accord’s provisions were fulfilled, most notably the conduct of the 2010 presidential election, many key elements remain significantly unimplemented. International reaction to the accord was generally positive but cautionary. While welcome as an Ivorian solution to an Ivorian conflict, it gave substantial leeway to presidential authority, which was viewed as potentially leading to contention over accord implementation, especially since it reduced the international political and military role in the peace process, provided no sanctions for implementation failures, and empowered only the four leading political parties.
Appendix C. Acronym Table
Table C-1. Acronyms Used in This Report
(Some from the French, per common usages)
African Development Bank
West African Communauté Financière de l’Afrique franc, a Euro-backed West African regional currency
National Council of Audiovisual Communication, a broadcast media regulator
National Committee of Public Salvation
Civil Society Coalition for Peace and Democratic Development in Côte d’Ivoire
Convention of Civil Society of Côte d’Ivoire
Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration
State Department Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Bureau
ECOWAS Mission in Côte d’Ivoire, a 2003 military intervention force
Economic Community of West African States
Executive Order 13396
Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance
Economic Support Fund
Front for the Liberation of the Great West
Forces Nouvelles (New Forces), the northern rebel movement; formerly the MPCI
Ivorian Popular Front; political party of Laurent Gbagbo
Force de Résistance et de Libération de la Côte d’Ivoire
Global Health and Child Survival
Government of National Reconciliation
Government of National Unity
Human Rights Watch
Integrated Command Centre
International Criminal Court
Internally displaced persons
Independent Electoral Commission
International Foundation for Electoral Systems
International Monetary Fund
Linas-Marcoussis Accord, initial north-south peace accord signed in 2003
Presidential Majority (La Majorité Presidentielle), a political party coalition formed to support Gbagbo during the November 28, 2010, presidential run-off vote
U.N. Mission in Côte d’Ivoire, a 2003-2004 U.N. military monitoring and political mission
Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples of Abobo-Anyama, a pro-Ouattara, Abidjan-based militia
Patriotic Movement of Côte d’Ivoire
National Democratic Institute
National Endowment for Democracy
National Security Council (U.S.)
National Identification Office
Ouagadougou Political Agreement of 2007, the most recent peace agreement
Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, political party of Henri Konan Bédié
Population, Refugees, and Migration Bureau of the State Department
Peace and Security Council of the African Union
Rally of the Republicans, political party of Alassane Ouattara
Houphouëtist Rally for Democracy and Peace, anti-Gbagbo opposition political party coalition
Radiodiffision Télévision Ivorienne, the state broadcaster
Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General’s
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Union for Democracy and Peace in Côte d’Ivoire, an opposition political party
West African Economic and Monetary Union
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
U.N. Mission in Liberia
U.N. Operation in Côte d’Ivoire
U.N. Security Council
World Food Program