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 foreign debt.
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.
According to Countryaah website, national day of Ivory Coast is every August 7. 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.