Following mutinies in Jan, security forces continued to protest. Special Forces in Adiaké (90km east of Abidjan) 7-8 Feb left barracks and shot in air to demand inclusion in govt’s Jan deal with other mutineers, paralysing city and wounding two civilians; govt 9 Feb said no deal reached and that mutineers had apologised. Six journalists arrested 12 Feb for writing that all Special Forces each received FCFA 17mn (about €26,000), denied by govt; all six released 14 Feb but indicted for spreading false news and inciting revolt. Cocoa planters 15 Feb began open-ended strike to protest govt’s fixed price which impedes exports as it is higher than international market price; police dispersed their protest in Abidjan 16 Feb with tear gas, injured six. UN mission started withdrawal mid-Feb.
Working to reduce tensions in western Côte d’Ivoire, a flashpoint for ethnic, political and economic rivalries, is imperative to ensure lasting stability and pave the way for national reconciliation.
President Alassane Ouattara’s coalition is walking a dangerous path toward polarisation by repeating mistakes made by previous governments that could ultimately lead Côte d’Ivoire back to crisis.
Despite a marked improvement in economic governance and the holding of legislative elections in good security conditions on 11 December in Côte d’Ivoire, the divisions within the security forces carry a risk of violent confrontation while the victor’s justice targeting only former President Gbagbo’s followers hampers reconciliation.
Forced to fight five months for the power his November election should have given him peacefully, Côte d’Ivoire’s new president now faces multiple urgent challenges to keep the country from fragmenting.
Côte d’Ivoire is on the verge of a new civil war. This tragedy can only be avoided if Africans and the wider international community stand firm behind the democratically elected president, Alassane Ouattara, and he launches an initiative for reconciliation and a transitional government of national unity.
The second round of the Côte d’Ivoire presidential elections risks degenerating into violent confrontation unless an appeal for calm is launched.
The problem with the army [in Côte d'Ivoire] is structural disorder that can’t be sorted out with the punctual signing of cheques, even if the cheques are big.
Jihadist groups have regrouped in the neglected hinterlands of Sahel countries and are launching attacks from them. To regain control of outlying districts, regional states must do far more to extend services and representation beyond recently recaptured provincial centres.
Originally published in Jeune Afrique
Among the three principal politicians who have struggled for power in Côte d’Ivoire since 1995, President Alassane Ouattara, 73, is the only one still in the game and is most likely to win the presidential election on 25 October. The significance of this election is not so much the electoral outcome – which seems to be a foregone conclusion – as much as the political choices that will result from a renewed Ouattara mandate. Without meaningful political, security and judicial reforms, Côte d’Ivoire could face yet another prolonged period of violence.
Originally published in Daily Maverick