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Civil War in Côte d Ivoire

Also called: Ivory Coast Civil War

Years: 2002-2004
Battle deaths: 810 [1]
Onesided violence: 662 [2]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]
Cote d'Ivoire

Published prior to 2013 | Updated: 2018-07-28 15:02:06
The catalyst for the conflict was the law quickly drafted by the government immediately before the elections of 2000 which required both parents of a presidential candidate to be born within Côte d’Ivoire. This excluded the northern presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara from the race. Ouattara represented the predominantly Muslim north, particuarly the poor immigrant workers from Mali and Burkina Faso working on coffee and cocoa plantations.

The North rebelled on September 19, 2002, troops from mutinied and gained control of north of the country. Their principal claim relates to nationality of the Ivory Coast, the voting rights and their representation in Abidjan. On September 19 night in Abidjan, the gendarmerie was seized by the rebels and former president Guéi was murdered with fifteen persons in his home, Alassane Ouattara refugied in French embassy. What happened exactly that night is confuse some report the events as military Coup attempt, but other sources report that opponents were executed by pro-Gbabo death squadrons and that the rebellion was at least there an unplanned reaction.

The events in Abidjan shows that it is not a tribal issue, but a crisis of transition from a dictatorship to a democracy, with the clashes inherent in the definition of citizenship.

The rebels moved quickly southwards. At this point in time France intervened, on September 22, to protect its nationals and the Westerners (the USA protecting its own nationals).

On October 17, a cease-fire was signed, and negotiations started.

On November 28, the popular Movement of the Ivory Coast of the Great West (MPIGO) and the Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP), two new rebel movements, take the control of the towns of Man and Danané, in the west of the country. France conducted negotiations.

The rebels seized power in the north of the country, and moved towards Abidjan, intending take over there.

Laurent Gbagbo considered deserters from the army, supported by interference from Burkina Faso, as the cause of destabilization. The principal difference in interpretation related to defence. The consequence is that Paris wished for reconciliation, when the Côte d’Ivoire government wanted military repression.

Paris sent 2500 soldiers to man a peace line and requested help from the United Nations.

The resumption of fighting

Faced with political impasse, the disarmament whose beginning had been envisaged fifteen days after the constitutional modifications did not begin in mid-October.

A sustained assault on the press followed, with newspapers partial to the north being banned and two presses destroyed. Dissenting radio stations were silenced.

UN soldiers opened fire on hostile demonstrators taking issue with the disarmament of the rebels on October 11. The rebels, who took the name of New Forces (FN), announced on October 13 their refusal to disarm, citing large weapons purchases by the Côte d’Ivoire national army (FANCI). They intercepted two trucks of the FANCI full of heavy weapons travelling towards the demarcation line. On October 28, they declared an emergency in the north of the country.

On November 4, the new FANCI planes began a bombardment of Bouaké. On November 6, governmental forces killed nine, with 39 wounded, among the French soldiers based with Bouaké. The French forces reacted by destroying both Sukhoï fighter-bombers based at Yamoussoukro, 15 minutes after the attack. Jacques Chirac gave the order to destroy five other helicopters. One hour after the attack on the camp, French forces established control of the airport of Abidjan. Simultaneously, the Young Patriots of Abidjan (see politics of Côte d’Ivoire for more details), rallied by the State media, plundered possessions of French nationals. Rapes, beatings, and murders followed. Several hundreds Westerners, mainly French, took refuge on the roofs of their buildings to escape the mob, and were then evacuated by helicopters of the French Army. France sent in reinforcements of 600 men based Gabon and France.

Recent developments

As from the week of Monday November 8, 2004, expatriate Westerners (French mainly, but also Moroccan, German, Spanish, British, Dutch, Swiss, Canadian, and Americans) in Côte d’Ivoire chose to leave. On November 13, President of the Ivorian National Assembly Mamadou Coulibaly (FPI) declared that the government of the Ivory Coast did not take any responsibility in the bombardment of November 6, and announced its intention of approaching the International Court of Justice:

for the destruction of the Ivory Coast Air force, only recently re-equipped;
for activities by the French Army responsible for several deaths.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Laurent Gbagbo called into question even the French deaths. Lastly, on the morning of 13 November, 2600 expatriate French had returned to France, and 1600 other European expatriates had left.

The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1572 (2004) on November 15, enforcing and arms embargo on the parties.

A meeting of the Ivorian political leaders, moderated by South Africaan President Thabo Mbeki was held in Pretoria from April 3 to April 6, 2005. The resulting Pretoria Agreement, declaring the immediate and final cessation of all hostilities and the end of the war throughout the national territory [2] (http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/2005/pre-cot-06apr.pdf). Rebel forces started to withdraw heavy weapons from the frontline on April 21 [3] (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=14040&Cr=ivoire&Cr1=). Elections are due to be held in 2005.


Data Sources

[1] Battle deaths: UCDP Battle-Related Deaths Dataset v. 5-2015 (link) (1989-2014) ID: #225
Low: 751 High: 1,228

[2] UCDP One-sided Violence Dataset v. 1.4-2017 (link) including actors: / Government of Ivory Coast / MPCI / MPIGO
Low: 659 High: 852

More about sources


NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.



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