Côte d’Ivoire: Stepping Up the Pressure
Côte d’Ivoire: Stepping Up the Pressure
Table of Contents
  1. Overview
Briefing 40 / Africa 4 minutes

Côte d’Ivoire: Stepping Up the Pressure

Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny has been unable to implement the roadmap that was to have secured for Côte d’Ivoire a democratically legitimated government. As happened a year ago, there will be no presidential election on the date (currently 31 October 2006) mandated by the UN Security Council.

I. Overview

Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny has been unable to implement the roadmap that was to have secured for Côte d’Ivoire a democratically legitimated government. As happened a year ago, there will be no presidential election on the date (currently 31 October 2006) mandated by the UN Security Council. The country remains divided between ex-rebel and government forces, with UN and French peacekeepers holding a fragile buffer zone. This second election postponement results from the deliberate strategy of politicians who want no peace they cannot dominate, and are assessing the staying power of the international community.

Failure by the international community to take this month the necessary tough decisions – to set a new election date, maintain Banny’s authority for another half year and stay heavily engaged – would greatly increase prospects that a country, once one of Africa’s most prosperous, will continue a slide toward the major bloodshed that has only been narrowly averted for four years. The real civil war may yet be still to come.

African statesmen are scheduled to evaluate the peace process on the margins of the UN General Assembly on 20 September 2006. They should acknowledge a grim reality: without new rules to govern the post-31 October period and simultaneous enforcement of coercive measures on the politicians who have been blocking clean elections, no Ivorian government will be able to organise a presidential poll in the foreseeable future. A settlement will remain an illusion, and the $37 million spent each month by the UN on the peacekeeping mission will be wasted money. Ultimately the international community may then be left with only two options: either a political and military withdrawal that would let Ivorians solve their problems how they choose, likely to be in a violent way that would leave none of the country’s neighbours unaffected; or a full takeover of the electoral process, effectively a temporary trusteeship.

In May 2006, Crisis Group gave the Banny government a fairly positive evaluation. In its first few months it had installed an independent electoral commission, relaunched direct dialogue on disarmament between the belligerent forces and solved some longstanding problems like the organisation of school exams in the part of the country controlled by the former insurgents, the Forces Nouvelles (FN). But it had not yet addressed the main elements of the roadmap: the nationwide program to identify citizens and produce identity cards for them and papers for foreign residents; the program of demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) of FN fighters and the government’s Defense and Security Forces (FDS); disarmament and dismantling of the militias backing President Laurent Gbagbo; and voter registration and the actual organisation of free, fair and transparent presidential elections. Four months later, the government – which, although dissolved by Banny on 6 September, is likely to be reconstituted largely intact - has achieved meagre results on all these counts, and a presidential election by the end of October is impossible.

To prevent a return of massive violence or further movement in the direction of a Somalia-like collapse of central government, those who gather in New York in September should propose the following new measures to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and the UN Security Council:

  • extend the transition for a further six months, from 31 October 2006 to 30 April 2007, to allow Prime Minister Banny to achieve the tasks assigned to him by Security Council Resolution 1633 (2005);
  • give Banny extraordinary executive power for this period, including authority to sign decrees, appoint civilian and military administrators and take all necessary measures needed to enforce the roadmap, under the supervision of a transitional High Council of the Republic and the International Working Group on Côte d’Ivoire (IWG);
  • create a High Council of the Republic as a transitional institution for political dialogue and a mechanism to control the prime minister’s action, and with a membership that includes the interim head of state, Laurent Gbagbo, the president of the Parti démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), Henri Konan Bédié, the president of the Rassemblement des Républicains (RDR), Alassane Dramane Ouattara, the secretary general of the FN, Guillaume Soro, and Prime Minister Banny;
  • maintain Laurent Gbagbo, whose presidential mandate expired on 30 October 2005, as interim head of state for a further six-month period from 31 October 2006;
  • reaffirm the role of the UN High Representative for elections to arbitrate all electoral issues and measures which could have an impact on the electoral process and give him significantly increased human and material resources to do his job;
  • make clear that Ivorian politicians who continue to violate the rights and liberties of citizens which are protected by the constitution cannot call on that same constitution to obstruct the peace agreements and Security Council resolutions;
  • announce that any provisions of the constitution which are deemed to be incompatible with expeditious enforcement of the roadmap and organisation of the elections will be considered suspended;
  • apply the targeted sanctions introduced by Security Council Resolution 1572 (2004) to further individuals, civilian and military, especially those responsible for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law since 19 September 2002 and who incite hatred and violence, including those responsible for the violence that has hampered the program (itinerant courts) to identify citizens and who encourage the disruptive activities of militias in Abidjan and the west of the country; and
  • require the prime minister to remove all obstacles to the visit of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to Côte d’Ivoire, so that the prosecutor can examine the situation and decide whether to open an investigation into atrocity crimes committed since 19 September 2002.

Dakar/Brussels, 7 September 2006

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