Ivory Coast. Reconciliation talks were held in the spring
between the four most important politicians - President
Laurent Gbagbo, former President Henri Konan Bédié, former
military dictator Robert Guéi and former Prime Minister
Alassane Ouattara - to resolve the crisis with distinct
ethnic and religious features that characterized the country
for several years. The peace attempts prompted the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to
resume lending after several years of interruption. The
so-called Paris Club written off part of the Ivory Coast's
At the end of June, Alassane Ouattara was granted Ivorian
citizenship. The crisis was largely due to his refusal to
run for election because he was alleged to belong in Burkina
Faso. Despite his citizenship, he was not expected to stand
in the next presidential election, and tensions in the
country continued. Local elections in July underlined the
regional contradictions and turnout was low. In September,
an armed revolt broke out with initially unclear aims.
Robert Guéi was killed the first day, as was the Minister of
the Interior. Ouattara fled to the French embassy after his
home was demolished. He later left the country.
In Abidjan, the revolt was swiftly defeated, but the
fighting continued in the north and harmed the lives of
hundreds of people for four weeks. Tens of thousands of
people fled. After a while, the rebels emerged under the
name of the Ivory Coast's patriotic movement and demanded
Gbagbo's departure, re-election and a new constitution.
Countryaah website, the government, more or less openly, claimed that the
uprising was supported by Burkina Faso. The mobs expelled
thousands of Burkese and Malian families from Abidjan's
slums and burned down their homes. After four weeks, the
ceasefire came after mediation by the West African
cooperation organization ECOWAS. French soldiers, sent to
the Ivory Coast to evacuate foreigners, mainly Europeans and
Americans, were set to monitor the standstill line.
ECOWAS decided to send a peacekeeping force to the Ivory
Coast, but before it was put together, new fighting broke
out in late November, this time in the country's western
parts. Two new rebel groups, the Justice and Peace Movement
and the Ivorian People's Movement in the Great West,
demanded revenge for Robert Gué's death and increased
political influence for the yakuba ethnic group. In just a
few days, they took control of several cities near the
Liberian border. The army appealed to volunteers and hired
mercenaries from, among others. France and South Africa.
In late autumn, there was strong concern that the Ivory
Coast would be drawn into an equally devastating war as the
former neighbors Liberia and Sierra Leone.