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.
Unless senior Ivorian politicians refrain from xenophobic language and more is done to ensure the security of the whole electoral process, they may be preparing the ground for violent chaos, either before, during or in the immediate aftermath of elections.
On 4 March 2007, the two main actors in the Côte d’Ivoire crisis signed the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement (OPA). The deal initially produced a peaceful atmosphere. The demarcation line between the armed forces was dismantled, a new government formed and the groundwork laid for addressing the conflict’s key questions: Ivorian identity and citizenship, and presidential legitimacy.
Côte d’Ivoire continues towards peace one year after the ex-Forces Nouvelles (FN) rebellion leader Guillaume Soro was appointed prime minister by his former adversary, President Laurent Gbagbo, but violence could still return.
The peace agreement signed in Ouagadougou by Laurent Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro on 4 March 2007 is a major turning point in resolving Côte d’Ivoire’s armed conflict but is only a first step in the right direction.