April 5, 2011


A tale of 2 presidents: Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, who both claim to be president of Ivory Coast, have intertwined life stories. (CBC News, 4/03/11)

As president, Bédié introduced a vague doctrine called "ivoirité," which eventually came to mean that only people with pure Ivorian ancestry should have full civil rights.

Houphouët-Boigny had encouraged foreigners to move to Ivory Coast to work on the cocoa farms and they came in droves, accounting for about a third of the population, including their descendents.

The prime target of the doctrine was Ouattara. Although he was born in Ivory Coast, his father was from what is now Burkina Faso.

To make doubly sure that Ouattara could not run in the 1995 elections, the laws were changed to require a presidential candidate to have Ivorian parents and to have lived in the country for the previous five years. [...]

During the campaign, Gbagbo expressed support for the ivoirité doctrine, in terms similar to Bédié's. After the dust settled, and amid increasingly frequent racially motivated violence between migrants and Ivorians, politicians made attempts at reconciliation. In 2002, there was even a meeting involving Gbagbo, Bédié, Guéï and Ouattara.
Civil war in 2002 splits country

However, things unravelled later that year. Military mutiny escalated into civil war, in which the rebels seized control of the predominantly Muslim north half of Ivory Coast.

France intervened and soon there was a ceasefire, with the country split between the rebel north and Christian south. Ouattara, a Muslim, was born in the north.

In 2005 the Gbagbo government, the rebels — called the Forces Nouvelles (New Forces) — and other factions reached a disarmament agreement.

A month later, old political enemies Ouattara and Bédié formed a new coalition.

The parties in this "Rally of Houphouëtistes" would compete in the first round of the elections scheduled for that October, but if only one of their candidates made it through to the second round the other parties would back him. In other words, their goal was to defeat Gbagbo.

And that is pretty much what happened, but not before a five-year election campaign during which the vote was postponed six times. The tally from the first round of voting for president on Oct. 31, 2010, was:

Laurent Gbagbo, FPI, 38 per cent
Alassane Ouattara, RDR, 32 per cent
Henri Konan Bédié, PDCI, 25 per cent

The results were mostly along ethnic lines. Gbagbo did well in the west and south. Ouattara's support was in the north and Bédié's in central east Ivory Coast, home to his Baoule ethnic group.
Ouattara vs. Gbagbo in 2nd round

As agreed, Bédié threw his support behind Ouattara for the second round on Nov. 28, 2010, and his voters apparently followed.

After the votes were counted — Ouattara 54 per cent, Gbagbo 46 per cent — events unfolded as they had in the previous election in 2000, but with Gbagbo in the other role. This time Ouattara played Gbagbo's old role as victorious challenger and Gbagbo now played the defeated incumbent trying to stay in power nevertheless.

Now both men are playing the same role: president. Gbagbo clings to power with the support of the army and control of the state media. Ouattara has the support of the international community and the rebels, who are still armed.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Posted by at April 5, 2011 6:29 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus