CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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January 2024

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Main opposition party laid out plans for return to power in 2025, and govt affirmed American and Chinese diplomatic ties.

New PDCI leader promoted participatory and inclusive decision-making. Former Credit Suisse CEO, Tidjane Thiam, inaugurated 24 Jan as president of main opposition party Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI); Thiam mapped out party’s strategy to return to power in 2025, vowing to promote participatory decision-making to strengthen PDCI’s internal democracy, while calling for reform of Independent Electoral Commission. After launching membership campaign, party early Jan reportedly recruited nearly 4,000 new members.

Relations remained strong with Washington. During visit to Côte d’Ivoire, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 23 Jan praised govt’s approach to security, notably making sure security forces understand “the needs, the concerns of communities”, as model for other countries. Earlier, Wall Street Journal newspaper 3 Jan reportedU.S. diplomats met with Ivorian officials to discuss possibility of setting up reconnaissance drone base in Côte d’Ivoire. 

In another important development. Govt 17 Jan also reaffirmed long-standing strategic partnership with China, as Chinese FM Wang Yi publicly thanked Abidjan for “firm support” on Taiwan issue.

December 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Main opposition party’s elective congress highlighted internal divisions and rekindled animosity with ruling party.

Main opposition party Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) prepared to hold extraordinary congress on 16 Dec to elect successor to long-time party leader, Henri Konan Bédié, who died in Aug. In last-minute ruling, Abidjan court of first instance 15 Dec ordered suspension of congress following urgent request from two senior party members, who alleged lack of transparency and irregularities in process. Controversy highlighted internal divisions between party’s old guard and younger reformist wing, and rekindled animosity between PDCI and ruling party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP). PDCI interim president Alphonse Cowppli-Bony Kwassy 16 Dec denounced “practices from another era that undermine democracy and freedoms”, seemingly accusing RHDP of orchestrating suspension of congress. Plaintiffs 21 Dec withdrew complaint, and congress was held 22 Dec in capital Yamoussoukro. Former Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam won bid with 96,48 % of votes, defeating businessman and diplomat Jean-Marc Yacé.

November 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Former PM Guillaume Soro announced intention to end self-imposed exile; govt highlighted criminal convictions facing him.

Opposition party Generations and Peoples in Solidarity (GPS) claimed Ivorian authorities 3 Nov attempted to arrest party leader, former PM Guillaume Soro, at Istanbul airport in Türkiye; govt 6 Nov denied allegation. Soro 12 Nov announced intention to end self-imposed exile and return home, said he was back in Africa for first time in five years. In defiance of President Ouattara, who has taken firm stance against military takeovers in West Africa, Niger and Burkina Faso junta leaders 13, 21 Nov met with Soro in Niamey and Ouagadougou, respectively. Govt 23 Nov said Soro can return to Côte d’Ivoire “whenever he wants”, adding it was up to justice system to implement sentences handed down against him in 2020-2021, which include life imprisonment for “undermining state security” over accusations of plotting coup against Ouattara.

October 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

President Ouattara reshuffled govt in wake of landslide victory in September local elections, while opposition remained in disarray.

Ouattara revamped leadership team, keeping tight grip on power. After ruling party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) won landslide victory in Sept regional and municipal elections, President Ouattara 6 Oct dismissed PM Patrick Achi, and 16 Oct appointed governor of Abidjan and RHDP heavyweight Robert Beugré Mambé as new PM. Appointment came as a surprise to many observers who expected more political appointment giving indication about Ouattara’s succession plans ahead of 2025 presidential election. Mambé 18 Oct announced new govt mostly composed of previous govt’s key figures; reconciliation ministry abolished, which suggests that opposition’s poor performance in local elections bolstered RHDP confidence; Mambé himself took charge of sports ministry as country prepares to host Africa Cup of Nations football competition in Jan. Meanwhile, senators 12 Oct elected Ouattara’s close ally, former FM Kandia Camara, as head of upper legislature.

Opposition struggled to come to terms with electoral defeat. Former President Laurent Gbagbo 6 Oct circulated memo within his opposition party African People’s Party-Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI) announcing audit of local election campaigns; 23 Oct reshuffled PPA-CI leadership, notably replacing party’s executive president, sec gen and spokesperson. Amid power struggle within Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) following death in Aug of long-time leader Henri Konan Bédié and electoral defeat in Sept, PDCI 14 Oct scheduled extraordinary party congress for 16 Dec to elect new president.

September 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Ruling party won sweeping victory in local elections, confirming overwhelming dominance over political scene two years before presidential election.

Ruling party consolidated power in local elections. Regional and municipal elections 2 Sept proceeded peacefully, featuring candidacies from across political landscape. Electoral commission 5 Sept announced President Ouattara’s party, Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), won 123 out of 201 municipalities (61%) and 25 out of 31 regions (81%); despite their alliance, main opposition parties Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire and African People’s Party-Côte d’Ivoire secured only 34 municipalities and four regions. RHDP’s sweeping victory, even in traditional opposition strongholds, inched country closer to return to de facto one-party rule ahead of presidential election due in 2025. RHDP 16 Sept also won 56 of 64 seats in senatorial elections, reinforcing its grip on parliament’s upper chamber.

In other important developments. Ouattara 28 Sept announced plan to reshuffle govt in October. Burkina Faso authorities 19 Sept arrested two Ivorian police officers who had crossed into Burkina chasing illicit gold miners; Ivorian govt 28 Sept said it was negotiating for their release.

August 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Death of former President Bédié created power vacuum in main opposition party, and Niger’s junta recalled ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire to protest President Ouattara’s firm stance against coup.

Veteran politician Bédié died, leaving massive void in his party. Veteran politician and leader of Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), former President Henri Konan Bédié, 1 Aug died aged 89. President Ouattara next day declared ten days of national mourning, cancelling 7 Aug Independence Day celebrations. PDCI set to embark on fierce succession struggle one month before local elections set for 2 Sept, and two years before 2025 presidential contest, as Bédié kept strong control over party apparatus during his decades in charge, resisted generational change, and did not designate successor.

Tensions rose between Abidjan and Niamey after coup in Niger. Following extraordinary summit of West African regional bloc ECOWAS, Ouattara 10 Aug affirmed commitment to using all necessary means, including military force, to reinstate constitutional order in Niger; also said Côte d’Ivoire would send battalion of up to 1,100 troops as well as financial resources in case of ECOWAS Standby Force deployment. In response, junta in Niamey 14 Aug recalled Nigerien ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire (see Niger).

July 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Political class continued to gear up for September 2023 regional and municipal elections.

Prominent opposition parties struggled to agree on joint candidacies. Electoral commission 19 July extended deadline to submit candidacies for regional and municipal elections until 23 July at request of Henri Konan Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) and Laurent Gbagbo’s African People’s Party-Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI). PPA-CI 18 July announced alliance with PDCI in 24 regions (out of around 30). Notably, VP of PPA-CI Stéphane Kipré 17 July joined list of PDCI official Alphonse Djédjé Mady in Haut-Sassandra region. Parties also filed joint candidacies in 158 out of 201 municipalities, but negotiations failed in key constituencies in economic capital Abidjan, including in Yopougon commune, where PDCI instead reached alliance with Simone Gbagbo’s party. Meanwhile, President Ouattara 13 July insisted that members of ruling Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) who were not officially endorsed by party apparatus should not run as independents.

Hurdles persisted for heavyweights seeking political comeback. After electoral commission late June rejected Gbagbo’s request to be reinstated on electoral roll, PPA-CI did not appeal decision by 1 July deadline, meaning Gbagbo will remain unable to participate in September elections. Paris-based weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique 4 July confirmed that exiled former PM Guillaume Soro is facing Paris-based judiciary investigation for alleged murder of ex-rebel leader Ibrahim Coulibaly in 2011; Soro, who remains under 2021 life sentence in Côte d’Ivoire for allegedly plotting coup against President Ouattara in 2019, unlikely to be allowed to return home in time to run for president in 2025.

June 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Ahead of September local elections, voter roll continued to spark controversy; govt pursued efforts to monitor refugee influx from Burkina Faso amid fears of jihadist infiltration.

Opposition heavyweights criticised electoral list. Henri Konan Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) and Laurent Gbagbo’s African People’s Party - Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI) 1 June held joint press conference, alleged irregularities on voter roll including presence of deceased voters, and called for extension of appeal period. Gbagbo 8 June filed appeal at electoral commission’s office in Abidjan city to be reinstated on election roll to vote in municipal and regional elections due 2 Sept; PPA-CI 30 June said electoral commission had rejected appeal.

Ad-hoc political alliances faced challenges. PPA-CI and PDCI continued to discuss circumstantial electoral alliances for local elections; disagreements however persisted over designation of common candidates in some districts, notably in Gbagbo stronghold of Yopougon in Abidjan suburb. Paris-based weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique 12 June reported ruling party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace did not withdraw its candidate in Moronou region where president of Ivorian Popular Front party, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, is seeking re-election, despite partnership agreement signed in May.

Govt took further steps to manage refugee influx from Burkina Faso. UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Côte d’Ivoire 19 June announced two “transit sites” for Burkinabe refugees will be operational by late June in porous border departments of Ouangolodougou (north) and Bouna (north east); Ivorian authorities hope sites will allow for better monitoring of refugee influx amid concerns that some jihadist militants might be hiding among displaced people in order to infiltrate country.

May 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Amid ongoing preparations for regional and municipal elections due in September, former President Gbagbo’s absence from electoral list sparked outcry from his party.

Main political parties discussed ad hoc electoral alliances. Ahead of regional and municipal votes scheduled for 2 Sept, ruling Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) and former PM Pascal Affi N’Guessan’s Ivorian Popular Front 2 May signed partnership agreement in economic capital Abidjan, pledging to promote peaceful politics and avoid electoral violence; N’Guessan said partnership did not amount to “electoral agreement”. Media outlets including RFI 4 May reported nascent talks between former President Laurent Gbagbo’s Parti des peuples africains – Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI) and former President Henri-Konan Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire with a view to fielding common candidates in certain regions or municipalities to better challenge RHDP’s favourable position.

Gbagbo and others remained absent from electoral list. Electoral commission 20 May published electoral list, confirming that Gbagbo will not be able to vote in Sept elections; Gbagbo has been stripped of his civic and political rights since his 2018 condemnation for robbery of Central Bank of West African States in 2011, despite presidential pardon granted in 2022. PPA-CI immediately denounced “unacceptable provocation” and “casus belli”, and 30 May condemned “irregularities and fraud” on electoral list, notably presence of deceased voters. Prominent politicians and former Gbagbo associates Charles Blé Goudé and Guillaume Soro also remained absent from electoral list.

April 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Authorities set date for local and regional elections, widely seen as warm-up for 2025 presidential election; govt took new steps to counter growing jihadist threat.

Political heavyweights continued to mobilise supporters in run-up to elections. In likely popularity test ahead of 2025 presidential election, former President Gbagbo 1 April met with youth representatives of his party in economic capital Abidjan. Authorities 19 April scheduled municipal and regional elections for 2 Sept. Several parties in following days disclosed lists of candidates, with President Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace selecting 11 members of govt among 31 candidates for regional elections.

Jihadist expansion from Sahel region remained major concern. Ivorian and Burkinabe legislative branch presidents, respectively Adama Bictogo and Ousmane Bougouma, 4 April met on margins of continental conference of French-speaking Parliamentary Assembly in Abidjan to discuss security cooperation, confirming renewed dialogue between neighbours; Bougouma expressed “high expectations” regarding Ivorian support to Ouagadougou in fighting jihadists. Meanwhile, Ivorian National Security Council 12 April announced creation of two “transit sites” for Burkinabé refugees in border departments of Ouangolodougou (north) and Bouna (north east); initiative will allow security services to monitor influx and conduct identity checks as authorities fear militants could infiltrate country among displaced people.

March 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Political tensions flared between President Ouattara and former President Gbagbo; govt donated military equipment to Burkina Faso to help contain jihadist advance.

Legal proceedings against opposition militants rekindled political tensions. Court in economic capital Abidjan 9 March sentenced 26 supporters of Laurent Gbagbo’s African People’s Party-Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI) to two years in prison for “disturbing public order”; militants were detained late Feb during gathering in Abidjan to protest investigation targeting PPA-CI Sec Gen Damana Pickass. PPA-CI 10 March condemned “arbitrary decision”, which was “likely to jeopardize the national reconciliation process”. Appeal court in Abidjan 22 March commuted sentence to suspended prison terms, resulting in all 26 supporters’ release few days later.

Henri-Konan Bédié’s party held extraordinary congress amid internal rifts. During extraordinary congress in Abidjan, Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) 30 March named historical leader, former President Bédié, as sole candidate for PDCI presidency at next party congress in June. Bédié same day urged party members to unite to win 2025 presidential election, amid calls from within party for 88-year-old leader to withdraw and series of defections of PDCI officials to ruling party. In presence of Gbagbo, Bédié also suggested that alliances could be forged with other parties.

Govt boosted cooperation with Burkina Faso to contain jihadist expansion. Govt around 18 March donated around $3.5mn worth of military equipment to neighbouring Burkina Faso. French news outlet Jeune Afrique 20 March reported Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire were planning to hold joint military operation along shared border, which reopened in Feb after years-long closure due to Covid-19. Meanwhile, army 1-15 March took part in U.S. annual counter-terrorism training for African forces staged in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

February 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Political heavyweights continued to position themselves with eye toward 2023 regional and 2025 presidential elections; govt maintained efforts to contain insecurity in north.

President Ouattara strengthened position as fragmentation of opposition widened. Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) continued to gather strength ahead of local and regional elections due for Oct-Nov. Two prominent Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) figures, including Chief of Staff Narcisse N’dri, 6 Feb defected to RHDP, reflecting growing internal division in Henri Konan Bédié’s PDCI. Ouattara, Bédié and former President Gbagbo 8 Feb attended Félix Houphouët-Boigny/UNESCO Peace Prize ceremony in capital Yamoussoukro; Bédié took opportunity to point out Ivorian failure “to engage in a frank dialogue” and “build sustainable peace”, in possible criticism of Ouattara’s refusal to release certain political prisoners and ensure return of exiled politicians, notably former PM and Parliament Speaker Guillaume Soro. Meanwhile, Court of Appeal in Abidjan 13 Feb confirmed life prison sentence for Soro on charge of “attempting to undermine state security”.

Govt kept up efforts to contain jihadist threat in country’s north. Paris-based news outlet Africa Intelligence 14 Feb reported Ivorian army expected delivery of 20 armoured vehicles from Turkish defence manufacturer Otokar to be used in fighting jihadists, following first delivery of armoured vehicles from Otokar in early 2022. Africa Intelligence 20 Feb also reported Ivorian govt was close to signing $60mn deal with Chinese defence company Norinco for 50 infantry fighting vehicles. Ouattara 20 Feb met in economic capital Abidjan with French Defence Minister Sébastien Lecornu, who pledged to increase military support to Côte d’Ivoire as Paris adjusts strategy in region.

January 2023

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Tensions with Bamako eased as Ivorian soldiers detained in Mali since July 2022 returned home.

Soldiers returned home after six-month detention in Mali. Malian Interim President Col. Goïta 6 Jan pardoned all 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested in July 2022 and convicted of conspiracy in Dec – 46 of whom had remained in detention while three others had returned to Côte d’Ivoire in Sept 2022 –, citing commitment to “preserving fraternal relations” with neighbours. President Ouattara next day welcomed pardoned soldiers in economic capital Abidjan. In phone call, Ouattara 9 Jan reportedly invited Goïta to Côte d’Ivoire in apparent attempt to normalise bilateral relations.

Competition ran high between presidential hopefuls. Former President Gbagbo’s right-hand man Charles Blé Goudé 11 Jan said he seeks to “govern Côte d’Ivoire one day”, adding to longstanding tensions with former mentor who likely also nurtures presidential ambitions. Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI)’s VP Jean-Louis Billon 14 Jan also announced plan to run in 2025 presidential election, openly challenging PDCI’s long-time leader and anticipated presidential candidate Henri Konan Bédié. Meanwhile, Paris-based media outlet Africa Intelligence 17 Jan reported Ouattara and Gbagbo pledged to meet in Feb during phone call held 12 Jan.

December 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Authorities reported progress in negotiations with Mali for release of Ivorian soldiers who faced 20-year prison sentence, senior political figures continued to position themselves for 2025 election, and Grand-Bassam trial concluded.

Soldiers sentenced to prison in Mali amid reports of agreement for their release. West African regional bloc ECOWAS 4 Dec called on Malian authorities to release 46 Ivorian soldiers detained since July “by 1 Jan 2023” or face sanctions. Ivorian delegation 22 Dec met with Malian President Col. Goïta in capital Bamako and reportedly agreed on memorandum for soldiers’ release. Meanwhile, court in Bamako 30 Dec sentenced all 46 soldiers to 20-year prison term, and three released in Sept to death in absentia, for seeking to undermine state security. Ouattara next day said he was confident soldiers will “soon return to Ivorian soil”, hinting at possibility of pardon.

Political manoeuvring continued ahead of 2025 presidential election. Two weeks after returning to Côte d’Ivoire, former President Gbagbo’s Youth Minister Charles Blé Goudé 8 Dec registered on electoral roll; yet Goudé faces 20-year sentence for role in 2010-2011 post-election violence, making his eligibility for election unclear. Opposition Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) same day released contradictory statements on holding of extraordinary congress, possibly reflecting internal tensions over long-time party leader Henri Konan Bédié’s anticipated presidential bid in 2025; prominent Franco-Ivorian financier Tidjane Thiam 19 Dec registered on electoral roll during second visit to Côte d’Ivoire since Aug after more than 20 years in exile, adding to speculations over PDCI’s presidential candidate.

Court handed life imprisonment for 2016 jihadist attack. Court in Abidjan city 28 Dec sentenced at least ten people (including six in absentia) to life imprisonment for involvement in jihadist attack which killed 19 people in Grand-Bassam town in 2016.

November 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Tensions with Mali persisted over ongoing detention of Ivorian soldiers, and former President Gbagbo-era figure Charles Blé Goudé returned from exile.

Govt rejected Mali’s conditions for release of detained soldiers. Paris-based media outlet Africa Intelligence 2 Nov revealed that Abidjan late Oct rejected Bamako’s latest conditions for liberation of 46 Ivorian soldiers detained since July, including that govt acknowledge attempt to destabilise Mali. Meanwhile, Abidjan mid-Nov announced “gradual” withdrawal of its roughly 900 personnel from UN peacekeeping force in Mali.

Political manoeuvring continued ahead of 2025 presidential election. Former President Gbagbo’s right-hand man turned rival, Charles Blé Goudé, 26 Nov returned to Côte d’Ivoire after decade-long exile. In search of political allies, Goudé’s Pan-African Congress for Justice and Peoples’ Equality 1 Nov sent delegation to Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) headed by Pascal Affi N’Guessan (former PM and another Gbagbo ally turned rival). After months of rumours, FPI early Nov confirmed political rapprochement with President Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace.

Govt kept up efforts to contain jihadist threat in country’s north. Youth Minister Mamadou Touré 10-13 Nov visited northern regions to assess govt social stabilisation plan, launched in Jan 2022 to promote youth integration and local development in regions at risk of jihadist violence.

October 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Despite reported progress, negotiations for release of Ivorian soldiers detained in Mali dragged on; former President Gbagbo loyalist announced return from exile.

President Ouattara expressed optimism over release of soldiers detained in Mali. Ouattara 6-7 Oct met in economic capital Abidjan with Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé and West African regional bloc ECOWAS President Umaro Sissoco Embaló to discuss latest ECOWAS efforts to negotiate release of 46 Ivorian soldiers detained in Mali since July; following meetings, Ouattara said “happy ending” will be reached “very soon”, but negotiations continued to drag on. Stumbling blocks reportedly include location for soldiers’ release, with Mali insisting on Bamako while Côte d’Ivoire prefers Togo’s capital Lomé. Ouattara and Embaló 7 Oct also discussed regional security issues as Abidjan sustains efforts to contain jihadist threat in country’s north.

Former President Gbagbo’s right-hand man vowed to return home. Former Youth Minister under Gbagbo, Charles Blé Goudé, 24 Oct announced he had received Ouattara’s approval to return home from Netherlands on 26 Nov, vowed to take part in Ouattara-sponsored reconciliation process. Blé Goudé, who was acquitted by International Criminal Court in March 2021 on charges of crimes against humanity, still faces 20-year sentence in Côte d’Ivoire for role in 2010-2011 post-election crisis. Ouattara’s move could form part of attempt to divide left-wing opposition ahead of 2023 regional and 2025 presidential elections, as Blé Goudé’s relations with Gbagbo have been tense in recent years.

Opposition heavyweights continued manoeuvring with eye on 2025 presidential election. After faction of Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) 29 Sept proposed long-time party leader Henri Konan Bédié as sole candidate for party leadership, PDCI’s young wing in following days expressed opposition, denouncing lack of internal democracy. Meanwhile, African People’s Party-Côte d’Ivoire’s general secretary, Damana Adia Médard aka Pickass, 17 Oct said Laurent Gbagbo was party’s “natural candidate” for presidential election.

September 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Standoff with Mali over detention of Ivorian soldiers persisted and President Ouattara sought to renew cooperation with Burkina Faso amid jihadist threat.

Tensions with Mali ran high over detention of Ivorian soldiers. Bamako 3 Sept released three Ivorian female soldiers detained since July on accusations of acting as “mercenaries”. Malian interim president, Col. Assimi Goïta, 9 Sept dashed hopes of quick crisis resolution by implicitly linking fate of 46 soldiers still imprisoned in Mali to Côte d’Ivoire’s extradition of prominent Malians associated with deposed President Keïta. Yamoussoukro 14 Sept denounced “unacceptable blackmail” and called for emergency summit of West African regional bloc ECOWAS heads of state, who 22 Sept condemned Bamako’s “blackmail”, reiterated call for soldiers’ “immediate release”. High-level ECOWAS delegation 29 Sept travelled to Mali to negotiate soldiers’ release with Goïta; no breakthrough reported (see Mali).

Ouattara and Burkinabè president pledged to strengthen anti-jihadist operations. Ouattara 5 Sept met with Burkinabè interim president, Lt. Col. Damiba, in economic capital Abidjan; counterparts reportedly agreed to strengthen security cooperation including by conducting joint operations along shared border, which Côte d’Ivoire is seeking to secure against jihadist incursions.

Speculations around long-time exile Tidjane Thiam’s political plans. British daily newspaper The Telegraph 3 Sept reported that prominent Franco-Ivorian financier Tidjane Thiam, who returned to Côte d’Ivoire in Aug after more than 20 years in exile, was preparing presidential bid; Thiam has claimed that he remains loyal to Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, raising questions about his intention to challenge party leader Henri Konan Bédié, 88, who has repeatedly expressed his intention to run in 2025.

August 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

President Ouattara pardoned former President Gbagbo as part of national reconciliation drive; negotiations for release of Ivorian soldiers held in Mali remained stalled. On occasion of Independence Day, Ouattara 7 Aug pardoned former head of state Gbagbo, who faced 20-year jail term over 2011 “robbery” of funds from country’s branch of Central Bank of West African States in economic capital Abidjan. Gbagbo’s party immediately rejected pardon and called for blanket amnesty for all party members convicted in aftermath of 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis, including Gbagbo – which would open the way for him to run for president in 2025 election. Meanwhile, Franco-Ivorian banker and former Minister Tidjane Thiam, 8 Aug returned to Côte d’Ivoire after more than 20 years in exile; Thiam, who fled in 2000 following coup d’état against then-President Bédié, likely harbours presidential ambitions and could be appealing candidate to the youth. Efforts continued to obtain release of 49 Ivorian soldiers who were detained in July upon arrival in Mali to work for UN mission (MINUSMA) contractor. UN Deputy Sec-Gen Amina Mohamed and UN Special Envoy for West Africa Mahamat Saleh Annadif 9 Aug arrived in Côte d’Ivoire to discuss mediation efforts with Ouattara, then went to Mali to discuss matter with military transition’s President Goïta. After holding soldiers for over four weeks, Bamako 12 Aug charged them with undermining state security. Ivorian Army Chief of Staff Gen Lassina Doumbia 25 Aug said “negotiations are continuing” for soldiers’ release.

July 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

In long-awaited step toward national reconciliation, President Ouattara met with former Presidents Gbagbo and Bédié; govt engaged in diplomatic battle with Mali over arrest of Ivorian soldiers in country. Long-time rivals Ouattara, Gbagbo and Bédié 14 July met at presidential palace in economic capital Abidjan in first trilateral encounter since 2010-2011 post-election violence; discussions focused on national reconciliation and political dialogue ahead of 2025 presidential election, possibly touching on release of political and military prisoners incarcerated during 2010-2011 crisis, and return of prominent exiles such as former Minister Charles Blé Goudé; Ouattara proposed making such meetings a regular occurrence. Govt pursued efforts to tackle insecurity in country’s north amid recurrent jihadist attacks along border with Burkina Faso. Ouattara’s brother, Defence Minister Téné Birahima Ouattara, 12 July participated in donor conference in France on financing of International Counter-Terrorism Academy, which was inaugurated in June 2021 near Jacqueville town. French Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu 16 July met with president and his brother in Abidjan to discuss bilateral cooperation to contain jihadist threat in West Africa. Meanwhile, Malian authorities 10 July arrested 49 Ivorian soldiers at Bamako International Airport, labelling them “mercenaries” attempting to destabilise transition. Ivorian govt 12 July said soldiers were part of UN stabilisation mission in Mali (MINUSMA), urged Bamako to release them. Togo-led mediation launched around 19 July. MINUSMA 26 July said “dysfunctions” may have led to crisis, acknowledging that “certain measures were not taken” ahead of Ivorian troops’ arrival (see Mali).

June 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

National Assembly approved new speaker in landslide vote, marking new step in political reconciliation process. Following death of National Assembly Speaker Amadou Soumahoro in May, MPs 7 June elected Adama Bictogo, executive secretary of ruling party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) and first VP of National Assembly, as new speaker. Bictogo gathered 237 of 255 votes, rallying political opposition forces along with RHDP around his candidacy; in return, Bictogo vowed to take opposition parties’ demands, including reform of electoral commission and redrawing of electoral map ahead of 2023 local elections, to President Ouattara. After spending three months in his home region, former President Henri Konan Bédié 17 June returned to economic capital Abidjan amid generational struggle within his Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, as youth wing demands Bédié’s departure. After former Youth Minister Charles Blé Goudé, who lives in exile in Netherlands, recovered his passport in May, govt spokesperson Amadou Coulibaly 1 June said it was “up to Charles Blé Goudé to decide whether or not he will return”; Blé Goudé remains under 20-year prison sentence in Côte d’Ivoire for involvement in crimes committed during 2010-2011 post-election crisis.

May 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

National Assembly speaker died in office, while West African bloc ECOWAS top military brass discussed expansion of jihadist threat toward Gulf of Guinea countries. National Assembly Speaker Amadou Soumahoro, close ally of President Ouattara, died 7 May; MPs 9 May selected most senior National Assembly VP Aminata Toungara to serve as acting speaker until election of new speaker on 7 June. Netherlands-based Charles Blé Goudé, youth minister under former President Gbagbo, 30 May recovered his passport from Ivorian authorities more than a year after his acquittal of crimes against humanity by International Criminal Court (ICC), vowed to return to Côte d’Ivoire. Chiefs of Defence Staff from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states 5-6 May met in Ghana’s capital Accra to discuss strategies against roving Sahelian jihadist militants, recommended to step up operational and logistical capacity of “frontline countries” in Sahel region and provide them with financial support to conduct joint military operations to contain jihadist attacks.

April 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

President Ouattara named new VP and appointed slimmed-down govt; authorities continued to engage with neighbours to step up regional security cooperation. Ouattara 19 April announced selection as new VP of Tiémoko Meyliet Koné, governor of Central Bank of West African States; VP position had remained vacant since 2020. PM Achi 13 April resigned, giving way to long-expected govt reshuffle. Ouattara 19 April reappointed Achi, tasked him with forming slimmed-down govt to reduce spending; govt of 32 ministers, down from 41, unveiled next day. Presidential Chief of Staff Claude Sahi Soumahoro 5 April travelled to Netherlands to meet former Youth Minister Charles Blé Goudé in exile; Blé Goudé later same day said discussion focused on “modalities surrounding his return to Abidjan”. Former President Gbagbo 7-10 April toured stronghold regions of Guémon and Cavally, called for “consolidated political alliance” with former President Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire. Meanwhile, Ouattara 14 April received Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé at Abidjan presidential palace to discuss joint fight against jihadist groups; leaders pledged to take “bold regional measures” to defeat Islamist insurgencies. Defence and security ministers from ad hoc security coalition of West African states, Accra Initiative, 13 April met in Benin, agreed to create multinational joint task force to combat jihadists. University students in second-largest city of Bouake 25 April went on strike to demand better study conditions; next day clashed with police, reportedly leaving several students injured and 22 detained.

March 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Land dispute turned violent in north, and national political dialogue involving authorities, political opposition and civil society concluded. Fighting 3 March erupted between residents of Niéllé and Diawala towns in Savanes district (north), killing seven people and wounding 22 others; violence reportedly erupted due to ownership dispute over sand quarry believed to be rich in gold deposits. Authorities around 5 March closed site. Unidentified armed group 4 March ambushed Defence and Security Forces patrol on Bondoukou-Bouna axis in Bounkani region (Zanzan district in north east), leaving one gendarme dead. Meanwhile, PM Patrick Achi 4 March closed fifth and final phase of National Political Dialogue. Govt, 21 political parties and 26 civil society organisations recommended establishing financial compensation scheme for victims of 2020 electoral crisis and reforming Independent Electoral Commission; delegates also discussed but could not reach agreement on number of appeasement measures, notably halting legal proceedings launched against dozens of opposition leaders for alleged involvement in late-2020 electoral violence; authorising former PM Guillaume Soro and former Youth Minister Charles Blé Goudé to return home; and granting amnesty to Blé Goudé and former President Gbagbo.

February 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Authorities and international partners hinted at increased role for Côte d’Ivoire in region’s security architecture in wake of French forces’ withdrawal from Mali. French Chief of Defence Staff Gen Thierry Burkhard and Ivorian Defence Minister Téné Birahima Ouattara 7 Feb met in economic capital Abidjan to discuss security cooperation; Burkhard pledged to help “consolidate the autonomy of the Ivorian army to fight terrorism”. President Ouattara 16 Feb said planned departure of French and European forces from Mali “creates a vacuum”, and confirmed ongoing discussions to host additional French troops. French President Macron 17 Feb stated France and European partners “consider extending [...] support” to ad hoc security coalition of West African states, Accra Initiative, which aims to address transnational organised crime and violent extremism in member countries’ border areas. Authorities 21-28 Feb hosted U.S.-led annual military training program for African forces. Amid strained relations with Mali, Ouattara 17 Feb said Mali’s transitional leaders should “comply with the demands of the Economic Community of West African States” for sanctions to be lifted. In phone call leaked 11 Feb, Ouattara and former Malian PM Boubou Cissé made harsh remarks on Malian interim President Goïta and inner circle. Meanwhile, political dialogue between govt and political opposition resumed 14 Feb; delegates explored ways to consolidate sociopolitical appeasement measures, including return of political dissidents in exile and release of those arrested during 2010-2011 post-electoral violence.

January 2022

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Authorities blamed opposition for 2020 electoral violence, casting potential shadow over reconciliation process; relations soured with Mali. Tensions ran high after Special Unit tasked with investigating violence around 2020 presidential election late Dec accused opposition leaders, including former President Bédié and former PM Pascal Affi N’Guessan, of instigating violence that left 85 people killed; unit under leadership of Abidjan Prosecutor Richard Adou also warned that “those who coordinated and funded the civil disobedience [campaign] could be prosecuted”. In response, Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) and former President Gbagbo’s African People’s Party-Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI) 5 Jan held joint press conference, argued govt had “little interest in national reconciliation”; Affi N’Guessan did not comment. Presidential party next day said “justice and reconciliation are not incongruent” and highlighted ongoing political dialogue was not designed to “grant immunity from prosecution to opposition leaders”. As part of political dialogue process, govt and opposition 20 Jan agreed to discuss five priority issues starting 27 Jan: revamp of Independent Electoral Commission, appeasement measures to ease political tensions, revision of electoral register, review of electoral code and national reconciliation. In context of much-needed cooperation against jihadist insurgencies, ties unravelled with neighbouring Mali. After Mali’s junta 1 Jan announced five-year transition, President Ouattara emerged as prominent advocate of West African regional bloc ECOWAS’ hardline posture vis-à-vis coup leaders. In response, Bamako 10 Jan released Ivorian politician Sess Soukou Mohamed aka Ben Souk; Ben Souk, who is close to former PM Guillaume Soro, had been imprisoned in Mali since Aug 2021 on basis of international arrest warrant accusing him of “undermining state security”.

December 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Political dialogue resumed in bid to foster reconciliation ahead of 2023 local elections, and efforts to stem jihadist violence continued. Govt 16 Dec resumed political dialogue with opposition after President Ouattara in Nov mandated PM Patrick Achi to revive talks following one-year hiatus. Representatives of govt and over 20 opposition parties or political associations discussed make-up of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and review of electoral register, among other issues. Representative of former President Gbagbo requested seat at IEC for African People’s Party-Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI) and pleaded for release of imprisoned military officials who sided with Gbagbo in 2010-2011 post-election conflict. Abidjan Prosecutor Richard Adou 27 Dec released report of Special Unit to Investigate Violence related to 2020 presidential election; conclusions reportedly hint at possible prosecution of several opposition leaders, including Henri Konan Bédié, who had boycotted vote and called for civil disobedience against President Ouattara’s plans to seek third term; Bédié’s party 29 Dec rejected report and blamed Ouattara’s party for electoral violence. In briefing to Senate on scope of jihadist threat, Defence Minister Téné Birahima Ouattara 6 Dec sought to highlight crisis’s foreign character, claiming combatants operating in country’s north were “Fulanis from neighbouring Burkina Faso”. Govt in recent weeks however stepped up efforts to counter jihadist groups’ attempt to recruit disgruntled locals; notably, Youth Minister Mamadou Touré late Nov announced $3.5mn training and professional integration program to benefit thousands of youths in northern regions; several media reports mid-Dec said project’s budget increased to $14mn.

November 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Govt announced resumption of political dialogue with opposition and took series of steps to address jihadist threat. PM Patrick Achi 8 Nov said President Ouattara had mandated him to resume political dialogue with opposition in Dec; talks could help address opposition’s grievances regarding electoral institutions’ alleged lack of neutrality ahead of 2025 presidential vote. Opposition heavyweights Henri Konan Bédié and Laurent Gbagbo next day said collaborators would attend talks on their behalf. Amid persistent jihadist threat along country’s northern border, authorities beefed up military force and sought stronger security ties with neighbours. Govt 10 Nov approved acquisition of two new aircraft with view to boosting intelligence gathering and reconnaissance missions, and Ouattara 21 Nov announced recruitment of 10,000 soldiers by 2024, including 3,000 in 2022. Govt spokesperson Amadou Coulibaly 3 Nov said govt would ratify 2008 Rabat Convention on Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance in Counter-Terrorism in order to help consolidate anti-terrorism legislation and ease cooperation with partners; Ouattara’s Chief of Staff Fidèle Sarossoro next day said Côte d’Ivoire would conduct joint anti-terrorism operations with neighbouring countries. Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff of West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS 17-19 Nov met in economic capital Abidjan, called for enhanced intelligence sharing between ECOWAS member states.

October 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

New political landscape taking shape amid appeasement between main political forces and mounting tensions within each camp; suspected jihadists attacked soldiers in north. In attempt to revive his political career, former President Gbagbo 17 Oct launched African People’s Party - Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI), vowed to “continue politics until his death”; new party’s pan-African ambition contrasts with Gbagbo’s previous ethno-nationalist discourses. Representatives of both President Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) and opposition heavyweight Henri Konan Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) attended PPA-CI’s constitutive congress. Gbagbo late Oct named close allies as PPA-CI’s executive president and sec gen. Pascal Affi N’Guessan, leader of Gbagbo’s former party Ivorian Popular Front, 18 Oct announced his candidacy for 2025 presidential election. Meanwhile, Bédié same day said he would reshuffle PDCI’s executive secretariat to “modernise” party; move comes after PDCI Executive Secretary Jean-Louis Billon in Sept announced his presidential candidacy. Amid tensions within presidential camp, notably between PM Patrick Achi and National Assembly First Deputy Speaker Adama Bictogo, Ouattara 15 October summoned senior party officials to discuss RHDP’s management; Ouattara reportedly plans to reshuffle party, a move that could curb Bictogo’s powers in favour of Achi, who has emerged as one of his potential successors. Meanwhile, unidentified assailants 13 Oct raided military checkpoint in Duékoué department (west), killing two. Suspected jihadists 19 Oct targeted military post in Téhini department (north near border with Burkina Faso), wounding two soldiers; one assailant also killed.

September 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Former President Gbagbo moved to create new political party, and authorities stepped up security presence in north to address jihadist threat. In bid to sideline Pascal Affi N’Guessan amid dispute for leadership of Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI), Gbagbo 7 Sept set up committee to prepare constitutive congress of new party due to take place in Oct; committee includes several former ministers who advised Gbagbo not to concede defeat in 2010 presidential vote. Meanwhile, independent MP Antoine Assalé Tiémoko 14 Sept said he would soon propose constitutional amendment to restore age limit of 75 years to run for president, which President Ouattara removed in 2016 Constitution; amendment would prevent Ouattara, Ggagbo and opposition heavyweight Henri Konan Bédié to compete in 2025 presidential election. Authorities early Sept stepped up security presence at northern border with Burkina Faso after reports of imminent risk of jihadist attack there; military helicopter on reconnaissance mission in area overnight 9-10 Sept crashed, reportedly leaving five dead.

August 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

President Ouattara made new gestures of political appeasement, and former President Gbagbo took steps to regain control of his deeply divided party. In national address on occasion of Côte d’Ivoire’s independence anniversary, Ouattara 6 Aug said he would “support initiatives aiming at appeasement” and announced provisional release of 69 people detained in connection with Oct 2020 presidential election violence; also pardoned nine individuals convicted for alleged involvement in 2020 electoral violence, including former President Bédié’s Chief of Staff N’dri Kouadio Pierre Narcisse. Amid ongoing dispute between Gbagbo and his former PM Pascal Affi N’Guessan over control of Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI) political party, Gbagbo 9 Aug called on his FPI faction to prepare for “constitutive congress” to create new party; move, which aims to sideline N’Guessan, could presage Gbagbo’s presidential bid in 2025; N’Guessan same day said step was “dictated essentially by a thirst for power”.

July 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

President Ouattara met with former President Gbagbo in strong symbolic step toward national reconciliation. Following Gbagbo’s return from ten-year exile in June, Ouattara and Gbagbo 27 July met in economic capital Abidjan for first time since 2010-2011 post-electoral violence that left over 3,000 dead; Ouattara, who has aimed to ease political tensions following his controversial re-election in 2020, said crisis was “behind” and called for “peace”; Gbagbo said he had urged Ouattara to continue reconciliation efforts by freeing his followers imprisoned since 2010-2011 violence. Earlier in month, prospects for reconciliation appeared to falter. Gbagbo 11 July visited former political rival, former President Bédié, in his hometown of Daoukro (centre) in “act of reconciliation and acknowledgment”, said Ouattara’s third term was unconstitutional; Bédié said meeting was “historic turning point” and called on govt to initiate “true national reconciliation project”. National Assembly Deputy Speaker and ruling party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace Executive Secretary Adama Bictogo next day dismissed Bédié’s call, saying Côte d’Ivoire was “not in need of any national dialogue”, and decried Bédié and Gbagbo’s rapprochement as “deceitful alliance of two men of the past”.

June 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Former President Gbagbo returned from ten-year exile, sparking localised clashes between his supporters and security forces, and deadly attacks targeted military in north. Gbagbo 17 June landed in economic capital Abidjan, ending years-long exile in Europe, following his acquittal of crimes against humanity by International Criminal Court (ICC); ICC proceedings related to 2010-2011 electoral violence which pitted his supporters against those of current President Ouattara, and left over 3,000 dead. Various public figures welcomed Gbagbo at Abidjan airport, including senior representatives from his Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI) party, rival FPI faction leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and delegates from former President Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire; no govt representatives however attended welcoming ceremony. Gbagbo same day addressed his supporters at his 2010 presidential campaign headquarters in Abidjan’s Attoban neighbourhood, said he was “their soldier and would remain on duty”; commitment goes against Ouattara’s willingness to see Gbagbo retiring from politics. Clashes same day erupted between Gbagbo supporters celebrating his return and security forces in Abidjan; police used tear gas to disperse pro-Gbagbo supporters in Port-Bouët and Koumassi neighbourhoods, and FPI said security forces had arrested 40 party supporters. Gbagbo 20 June expressed “concerns over the perpetuation of violence”, called on govt to “give a chance to peace”; 27 June returned to his hometown Mama, where thousands of supporters had gathered to welcome him; next day decried ICC as “not serious”. Meanwhile, court 23 June sentenced in absentia former PM and rebel leader Guillaume Soro to life in prison on charges of plotting coup against Ouattara. Suspected jihadists launched attacks in north near border with Burkina Faso, killing one soldier in raid on military post in Tougbo town 7 June and three others in ambush on army patrol near Téhini town 12 June.

May 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Tensions emerged as civil society activists called for justice amid negotiations on conditions for former President Gbagbo’s return. Gbagbo’s Ivoirian Popular Front (FPI) and top govt officials continued to discuss conditions for Gbagbo’s possible return as early as June following his acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity at International Criminal Court; Security Minister Vagondo Diomandé 3 May confirmed setting-up of technical committees to work out details of possible agreement. Civil society activists 10 May took to streets in economic capital Abidjan to call for justice for victims of 2010-2011 post-election violence and arrest of Gbagbo upon his return. Authorities mid-May banned FPI and civil society demonstrations due to take place simultaneously in Abidjan 15 May, said move aimed at avoiding violent clashes between Gbagbo’s followers and civil society activists opposed to his return. FPI 31 May said Gbagbo would return to Côte d’Ivoire 17 June. Meanwhile, Liberia 6 May dispatched high-level delegation to Abidjan after Ivorian govt blamed “Liberian mercenaries” for attacking military barracks in Abobo district north of Abidjan late April; Liberian FM Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, who headed delegation, said his country would not serve as rear base for any destabilisation attempt targeting Côte d’Ivoire. Following two jihadist incursions in Côte d’Ivoire’s north over past year, Defence Minister Téné Birahima Ouattara 9-11 May travelled to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali, agreed with counterparts to step up security cooperation. PM Patrick Achi mid-May received medical treatment in France after he collapsed at his residence in Abidjan, sparking speculations about his health; Achi was appointed PM in March following death of two PMs in less than eight months.

April 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

President Ouattara formed new govt without opposition and gave green light for former President Gbagbo’s return. PM Patrick Achi 6 April formed new cabinet comprising 41 members and no opposition representative; members of Ouattara’s inner circle appointed to strategic portfolios, including his brother Téné Birahima Ouattara as defence minister. MPs 14 April elected executive secretary of ruling party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace, Adama Bictogo, as National Assembly VP; Bictogo to lead Assembly until Speaker Amadou Soumahoro returns from sick leave. After International Criminal Court late March confirmed acquittal of former President Gbagbo and former Youth Minister Charles Blé Goudé on charges of crimes against humanity, govt and Gbagbo’s party reportedly started negotiating conditions of their return. President Ouattara 7 April said both of them were “free to return home whenever they wish”, remained silent on possible amnesty for Gbagbo and Blé Goudé, who remain under prison sentences in Côte d’Ivoire. Govt spokesperson Amadou Coulibaly same day said govt had no intention of jailing Gbagbo upon his return. Six supporters of Gbagbo, including former party officials, 30 April returned to Côte d’Ivoire after ten years in exile in Ghana; return reportedly follows agreement between UN refugee agency and govt. In further appeasement measure, Abidjan prosecutor Richard Adou same day said judge 28-29 April had ordered release of 100 individuals incarcerated for their alleged role in violence around 2020 presidential election. Meanwhile, court in Abidjan 15 April sentenced former warlord Amadé Ouérémi to life imprisonment for having allegedly supervised massacre of hundreds of people in Duékoué city (west) during 2011 post-electoral violence; during trial, Ouérémi accused two current senior army officers of responsibility for killings.

March 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Suspected jihadists launched deadly attack on security forces; ruling party won majority in parliament, while PM Bakayoko’s death sparked protests. In north near border with Burkina Faso, suspected jihadists overnight 28-29 March launched twin attacks on army post in Kafolo town and gendarmerie in Kolobougou locality, reportedly leaving at least three dead; several assailants also killed. Legislative elections held peacefully 6 March, but turnout low at 37.88%. Electoral commission 9 March released preliminary results, with ruling party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace taking 137 of 255 seats, strengthening President Ouattara’s hand to pursue his political agenda. Mainstream opposition made up of platform Together for Democracy and Sovereignty, close to former President Gbagbo, and main opposition party, Henri Konan Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, won 81 seats. Second opposition coalition, made up of Pascal Affi N’Guessan’s branch of Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) and Albert Mabri Toikeusse’s Union for Democracy and Peace in Côte d’Ivoire, gained ten seats. Constitutional Council 25 March confirmed results. PM Hamed Bakayoko (aka Hambak) 10 March died in Germany, reportedly of cancer; Hambak had been main architect of political dialogue following Oct 2020 violent presidential vote. News of his passing immediately sparked protests in Séguéla town in west, with Hambak’s followers and members of his ethnic Koyaka community claiming ethnic Senufo supporters of late PM Amadou Gon Coulibaly poisoned him. National Assembly Speaker Amadou Soumahoro 12 March called for appeasement. Ouattara 26 March appointed Presidency’s Sec Gen Patrick Achi as new PM. NGO Amnesty International same day said hundreds still in prison after being arrested during election-related protests and violence in 2020, denounced use of pre-trial detention as “punishment for people who have not been – and may never be – found guilty”, called for immediate investigation into torture allegations of detainees. Meanwhile, International Criminal Court 31 March rejected prosecutor’s appeal against Gbagbo’s acquittal on charges of crimes against humanity during 2010 political crisis, paving way for his return to Côte d’Ivoire.

February 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Preparations for legislative elections scheduled for 6 March moved forward, while supporters of former President Gbagbo stepped up pressure for his return. Ahead of March election, govt Ombudsman Adama Tounkara toured western and central constituencies – where opposition enforced electoral boycott in Oct 2020 presidential election – to call for reconciliation and unity; Reconciliation Minister Kouadio Konan Bertin 11 Feb called for peaceful election. Candidates 18 Feb signed code of good conduct, pledging to stay away from violence and hate speech; campaign started 26 Feb. Opposition remained divided in two main camps: on one hand, platform Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS), close to Gbagbo, along with Henri Konan Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, and on the other, Pascal Affi N’Guessan’s branch of Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) with Albert Mabri Toikeuse’s Union for Democracy and Peace in Côte d’Ivoire. Meanwhile, Assoa Adou, sec gen of Gbagbo’s FPI wing, 11 Feb urged govt to create conditions for Gbagbo’s return in “reasonable timeframe”; govt has maintained Gbagbo’s return is conditioned by proceedings at International Criminal Court, where prosecution’s appeal of his 2019 acquittal of crimes against humanity is still pending. Bertin mid-Feb said he would soon visit Ghana and Europe to meet pro-Gbagbo cadres living in exile, including former Gbagbo Minister Charles Blé Goudé, and possibly Gbagbo himself; Assoa Adou 24 Feb said Gbagbo would return to Côte d’Ivoire mid-March. PM Hamed Bakayoko 18 Feb flew to France to receive treatment for “chronic fatigue”. Head of French foreign intelligence agency Bernard Emié 1 Feb warned Sahel-based jihadist groups aimed to spread to and target Côte d’Ivoire govt 3 Feb said army had been put on high alert.

January 2021

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Several opposition figures returned to political arena, and opposition parties formed competing coalitions ahead of legislative elections scheduled for March. Following late 2020 political dialogue between govt and opposition to alleviate electoral tensions, leader of Union for Democracy and Peace in Côte d’Ivoire, Albert Mabri Toikeuse, 11 Jan resurfaced after two months in hiding; National Alliance for Change leader Alphonse Soro next day returned to Côte d’Ivoire after one-year exile in France and 16 Jan rallied ruling party Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), officially ending collaboration with prominent opponent in exile and former PM Guillaume Soro. Electoral commission 3-22 Jan held registration of legislative elections’ candidates. Opposition platform Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS), which is close to former President Laurent Gbagbo, 7 Jan said opposition coalition – made up of EDS, Henri Konan Bédié’s Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, and Pascal Affi N’Guessan’s Ivorian Popular Front, along with other parties – would participate in legislative elections set for 6 March and aim to field common candidates against RHDP in country’s 205 constituencies. N’Guessan mid-Jan left coalition due to disagreements over selection of nominees, forming new electoral alliance. Guillaume Soro 16 Jan announced his party would boycott polls; his close ally Alain Lobognon, in pre-trial detention since 2019, next day said he would run as independent candidate, in apparent disavowal of Soro. 

December 2020

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Amid lull in post-election violence, President Ouattara took oath for controversial third term and opened dialogue with opposition. Opposition Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) leader and de facto opposition spokesperson Henri Konan Bédié 9 Dec dissolved National Transitional Council, created after Oct presidential election with view to forming transitional govt, called for national dialogue. During swearing-in ceremony, Ouattara 14 Dec mandated PM Hamed Bakayoko to resume dialogue with opposition, with stated aim to find consensus on reform of electoral commission ahead of 2021 legislative elections. Ouattara next day appointed PDCI dissident and presidential candidate in Oct election, Kouadio Konan Bertin, as national reconciliation minister. Opposition boycotted and sharply criticised inauguration: Bédié 7 Dec decried it as “non-event”, while exiled opposition figure, former PM Guillaume Soro, 13 Dec denounced “illegal and illegitimate” ceremony. Govt and opposition representatives, including Bédié, 21 Dec met in economic capital Abidjan, 29 Dec agreed to hold legislative elections in March 2021; disagreements persisted, however, on release of detained and return of exiled opposition leaders, and reform of electoral commission; political dialogue set to resume mid-Jan. Authorities 30 Dec released and placed under judicial supervision opposition leader and presidential candidate in Oct election Pascal Affi N’Guessan, in detention since early Nov on terrorism charges. Meanwhile, NGO Human Rights Watch 2 Dec urged authorities to “investigate the killing of more than 50 people” around Oct presidential election and stop “targeting opposition members through a flawed legal process”. Govt 4 Dec handed diplomatic and ordinary passports to former President Gbagbo, currently in Belgium following his 2019 acquittal of crimes against humanity by International Criminal Court (ICC), 9 Dec said Gbagbo should await end of ICC proceedings before returning to Côte d’Ivoire. Gbagbo’s wing of Ivorian Popular Front party 23 Dec announced end of its ten-year boycott of national elections, said party would take part in 2021 legislative elections.

November 2020

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire

Electoral commission announced incumbent President Ouattara’s re-election amid deadly post-electoral violence. Violent incidents broke out following 31 Oct presidential election, notably in opposition strongholds in centre. Unidentified gunmen 1-4 Nov attacked several govt and ruling party officials’ convoys near capital Yamoussoukro and in Toumodi department, leaving three dead. Meanwhile, electoral commission 3 Nov declared Ouattara as presidential election winner with 94.27% of votes. Opposition parties under leadership of Henri Konan Bédié and Pascal Affi N’Guessan – both candidates in Oct presidential election – 2 Nov announced creation of National Transitional Council, in charge of forming transitional govt. Security forces next day surrounded Bédié’s house in Cocody neighbourhood of economic capital Abidjan and arrested 21 members of his inner circle. Police 6 Nov arrested Affi N’Guessan in south-eastern Akoupé town over accusations of “attack and conspiracy against the state authority, murder and act of terrorism”. Constitutional Council 9 Nov confirmed Ouattara’s re-election, sparking further deadly violence in centre. In M’Batto town, ethnic Malinké ruling party supporters 9-10 Nov clashed with ethnic Agni opposition protesters, leaving at least five dead and several critically wounded; in Daoukro city, intercommunal clashes 9 Nov reportedly killed six and wounded over 50; in Ellibou village, clashes between security forces and locals 9 Nov reportedly left three dead. UN refugee agency 10 Nov said over 8,000 Ivorians had fled to neighbouring countries since election day. Govt next day said 31 were killed in post-electoral violence 1-10 Nov. Ouattara and Bédié 11 Nov met in Abidjan to “break the ice”; Bédié 20 Nov said release of detained opposition members was prerequisite for any future talks. Meanwhile, West Africa regional bloc ECOWAS 10 Nov and French President Macron 15 Nov congratulated Ouattara on re-election, called for dialogue with opposition. 

October 2020

Africa

Côte d’Ivoire