Factors Leading to State Decay

Ranked as number 12 in the 2013 Failed States Index, Côte d’Ivoire has faced a variety of internal conflicts since the 1980s. Changes in the world prices of export commodities, especially of cocoa, caused a crisis in the country’s economy. The decrease in export revenues and the increase in debt caused former President Houphouet-Boigny to react with limited democratizing measures and some economic reform (diversification of agriculture and growth in investments in the previously-neglected north). Despite the president’s response, civil discontent sparked various student protests in 1982 (Istok and Koziak 82).

During the country’s first free presidential elections in November of 1990, the governmental party PDCI (Parti Démocratique de la Côte d’Ivoire), led by President Houphouet-Boigny, defeated political opponent Laurent Koudou Gbagbo. After the death of former President Houphouet-Boigny in 1993, the country fell into a state of self-destruction as successors used their energy and national resources to fight for political power. Opponents of Henri Konan Bédié, who took over office in 1993, boycotted the election due to the requirement that only a “person of Ivorian parental descent and a five-year uninterrupted residence in the country could run for presidency,” (Istok and Koziak 83). Clashes between the mostly-Muslim (later rebel-held) north and mostly-Christian (later government-controlled) south also began to generate internal political tensions (83). The true origin of Côte d’Ivoire’s “critical” condition lies in the mismanagement of political and economic systems throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, as summarized below:

December 1999: A military coup overthrows President Henri Konan Bédié, an action headed by General Robert Guei (of the National Public Salvation Committee) and some supporters of Alassane Ouattara (current President of Côte d’Ivoire). Encouraged by more than 80% of the population, the military organizes a constitutional public election.

October 2000: A popular uprising replaces General Robert Guei with Laurent Gbagbo (founder of the Ivorian Popular Front; Front Populaire Ivoirien, FPI) as President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. President Gbagbo organizes a national forum in the hopes of ending the country’s political standstill. However, the xenophobia is replaced with increased violence.

September 2002: Leaders of a second military coup become a rebel army and occupy the majority of the country. Those located in the north fall under the control of rebellion leaders supporting Alassane Ouattara, who has wanted to be president since 1993. Thousands are killed in the conflict, leading to a civil war.

March 2007: A prospect for peace arises as President Gbagbo and rebellion leader Guillaume K. Soro sign the Ouagadougou Political Agreement as a power-sharing deal to allow for the development of a unified government, of which Mr. Soro is appointed as Prime Minister. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is created and composed of 31 commissioners from various political forces and armed rebellions. The agreement also requires the disarmament of rebel groups.

October 2010: The latest presidential election leads to further violence as the country is split three-way between President Laurent Gbagbo, Alassane Ouattara and Henri Konan Bédié.


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