Africa: With Two Presidents, Is Ivory Coast Heading For Civil War?

A standoff is unfolding in Ivory Coast. Two candidates, Laurent Gbagbo and Allasane Ouattara are both claiming an electoral victory. Results released last week gave the election win to Ouattara, but the Ivorian Constitutional Court ruled that some of the ballots in his favor were rigged. The court overturned the results by annulling the contested ballots.

Ouattara has the support of the United Nations, the European Union (notably France, the former colonial ruler of Ivory Coast), the United States and the African Union. However, Gbagbo remains defiant, and has no intention to hand over power to Ouattara. Gbagbo claims that he is fighting against pressures from the international community for the sake of the country sovereignty.

“In recent days, I have noted serious cases of interference. I am charged with defending our sovereignty and I will not negotiate on that,” said Gbagbo on Saturday, after he was sworn in as president.

Meanwhile, Ouattara swore himself as president in a rival ceremony, and immediately reappointed current PM Guillaume Soro as prime minister. So far, the army brass appears to be behind Gbagbo. 17 people were killed in Ivory Coast since the elections took place last Sunday, and the country’s borders remain closed.

On Sunday, former South African president Thabo Mbeki arrived in the capital Abidjan in an effort to mediate the volatile situation. Mbeki is representing the African Union in trying to find a solution for the standoff to end, and to avoid what could be a bloodshed. But at this juncture, and despite the tremendous international political pressures, everything is possible from peaceful demonstrations to a full blown civil war opposing the north to the south of the country.

An insurgency that started with a coup attempt in September 2002 led to the de facto partition of Ivory Coast, with rebels occupying a large part of the country, especially in the north.

Laurent Gbagbo has acted with utter disregard for the rights of his people to freely and fairly elect their leader, a right they have waited way too long to exercise,” said Corinne Dufka, a senior West Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch. However, Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters view the increasing pressure from the international community, and especially the one coming from French president Sarkozy, as neo-colonialism, and this is a sensitive issue for Ivorians


6 Responses to Africa: With Two Presidents, Is Ivory Coast Heading For Civil War?

  1. Liam Fox December 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    While I can sympathize with Gbagbo regarding the oppression of neocolonialism and his desire to protect his people from it, the prospect of a civil war and the subsequents deaths of those same people is deeply saddening. I sincerely hope Mbeki is able to help with a peaceful resolution.

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier December 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm

      It could work as long as Mbeki is not viewed as the pawn of the UN, the EU and of course the United States.

      • Liam Fox December 5, 2010 at 1:29 pm

        Perhaps they should bring in Assange . ; )

    • yannoviche December 5, 2010 at 4:30 pm

      I am from Ivory Coast and proud to be. We africain are tired of those western countries coming to decide for us. Western countries are not trying to help us, they are just trying to save their interests. It is all about money. They don’t care if we kill each other, if kids are working in cocoa fields they just want to make sure their diamonds, oil fields are safe so they can make money. Money money money….

      If you really want to help african copuntries you need to pressurized your respective goverment so they can leave Africa once and for all.

      Chosing one candiate for the other surelly create problems. If you analyse the patterns of war in Africa, it is where there are lots of resources (cocoa, diamonds, oil, …whatever… ). When one president doesn’t do your bussiness, here we go we need to activate his rival and push him to take power. And what happen war.

      We are tired of you, you westerners who bring evil, pain and death in Africa. We are sick of all that. Just leave us alone for God sake, please.

  2. theqoute December 5, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    is it not ur country and people in power? corruption is what divided your country.. not westerners.. well lets say america. ur country invest in their people and communities.. your roads are terrible and it needs to be a better financial system for your country. the cash based system is the worse system to have.. adopt or system and although there will be politics, it will be a lot less corruption

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