Historical and political background Years of division and violence
Up to the 1980s, Côte d'Ivoire was considered the most economically stable country in West Africa. Its development gains were based on the export of cocoa and coffee. Plummeting world market prices for cocoa in the 1990s plunged the country into a deep crisis. In parallel, a power struggle ensued over who should become the successor to President Houphouët-Boigny, who had died in 1993.
Division of the country and renewed conflict
In 2002, the conflict escalated. Part of the military rose up against the government, gaining control over the northern part of the country. For five years, Côte d'Ivoire was split into two parts separated by a UN-controlled buffer zone. In 2007, the civil war was ended through a peace agreement that provided for the opposing parties to share power.
But it took until 2010 for presidential elections to be held. In the run-off election between office holder Laurent Gbagbo and opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara, Ouattara won. However, Gbagbo refused to admit defeat and to leave his post.
Violent clashes broke out between the supporters of the two candidates, and massive human rights violations were committed in that context. More than 3,000 people were killed and about one million were displaced by the violence to other parts of the country or neighbouring countries. Côte d'Ivoire was again on the brink of civil war.
Stabilisation since 2011
In April 2011, Laurent Gbagbo was arrested and transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He was charged with crimes against humanity. In January 2019, he was acquitted, a decision which was upheld by the Appeals Chamber in March 2021. In June 2021, Gbagbo returned to Côte d'Ivoire.
Alassane Ouattara was internationally recognised as Côte d'Ivoire's president in 2010, and confirmed in office in free elections in 2015. His contested re-election in 2020 was again accompanied by violent protests, but no new political crisis ensued.
As at: 09/02/2023