Cote d’Ivoire Roundup: Renewed Civil War

Reuters writes that “it looks like…civil war has already restarted” in Cote d’Ivoire, where last November’s election left incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and challenger Alassane Ouattara both claiming the presidency. Here is a roundup of news reports, international reactions, and commentary:

News reports

  • Reuters: “Ouattara’s establishment this week of a new army — the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast (FRCI) — ends efforts by his camp to distance the former IMF man from armed conflict. The move puts gunmen who still control the north and have launched a number of pushes south, as well as any members of the security forces who defect, under his command. One diplomat said the former rebels are already being recognized as members of an army serving under Ouattara.”
  • BBC (video report): “The man internationally recognised as having won Ivory Coast’s presidential election has made what he called a final offer to the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to avoid a civil war. In a televised address, Alassane Ouattara appealed to Mr Gbagbo to accept a national unity government, a fusion of their armed forces, and a truth and reconciliation commission.”
  • WSJ: “In the main city of Abidjan, witnesses said fighting erupted around the residence of Mr. Gbagbo’s army chief of staff. The assault on the army chief’s residence Sunday evening marks the first time an insurgency in Abidjan has spread beyond the northern district of Abobo, where running gun battles between the army and forces have raged daily over the last month.”
  • VOA: “It’s estimated that between 300,000 and 400,000 people have been displaced by the political turmoil and fighting in Ivory Coast.  Humanitarian agencies and NGOs are stretched thin trying to help.”

International reactions

  • UN: “The shelling of an Abidjan market by Ivory Coast security forces which killed at least 25 people may be a crime against humanity, the UN says.”
  • UNHCR: ” ‘We are shocked at the escalating violence in (Ivory Coast), particularly in Abidjan, where this week was by far the most violent since the post-election crisis began,’ the agency spokesman said at a briefing Friday.”
  • UN in Liberia: “Top UN Official in Liberia Warns of Spillover of Violence From Ivory Coast”
  • France: “France, Ivory Coast’s former colonial ruler, condemned Thursday’s ‘deliberate massacre of civilians’ and called on the United Nations Security Council to adopt sanctions against self-declared President Laurent Gbagbo and his circle, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.”
  • IMF: “The International Monetary Fund on Thursday warned of ‘serious risks’ from the political power struggle in Ivory Coast, saying the longer it continues the more severe its impact will be on the regional West African economy.”
  • International Rescue Committee: ” ‘The crisis here is rapidly deteriorating,’ says Louis Falcy, who oversees International Rescue Committee aid programs in Ivory Coast. ‘In addition to ongoing clashes and attacks on civilians, we’re seeing health clinics, schools and businesses close as people flee. Supplies of food, water and electricity are diminishing and other vital services are collapsing. The situation is having a dire impact on millions of people.’ “

Blogs/Opinion

  • NYT Editorial (h/t Dana Hughes): “The international community must move quickly to halt this terror.”
  • The Economist’s Baobab: “Most of the armed forces have given up on the former president. Many are now simply waiting for a signal from Mr Ouattara to change sides and join his Republican Forces, the new name for the Nouvelles Forces, the former rebel army, to begin the ‘final push’.”
  • Aaron Bady on international “silence” on Cote d’Ivoire: “It isn’t that ‘we’ don’t want to understand [the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire]; it’s that we don’t know how to see beyond the initial same-old-story-ness of this story, when we hear it. Which is why, I would suggest, we end up where we started: a sense that, because there is violence, we should pay attention to what is happening, followed by the discovery that there is no news there; just the same ‘turmoil in Africa’ narratives we sort of quietly presume to be going on across the continent all the time, and nothing we can think anything new about.”

What are you hearing about the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire? Do you think it could end soon?

4 thoughts on “Cote d’Ivoire Roundup: Renewed Civil War

  1. Europe and the US have their eyes on Libya, and are both still heavily involved in Afghanistan. Any intervention would have to be led by African forces – with participation by France? However, it seems an African contingent would need Nigerian troops, and Nigeria seems pretty hard-pressed to maintain security within Nigeria right now. Your thoughts on that?
    If my analysis is correct (a big if?), Ouattara will not have the foreign army he needs to install him in power throughout the Ivory Coast, and may have to settle for controlling only the north of the country.
    So, instead of Gbagbo being President and Ouattara in charge of a rebel north, perhaps Ouattara will be the President, and Gbagbo will control a “rebel south”. ?
    A new Sudan developing?
    Questions for you: How many of Ouattara’s followers are citizens under Ivoirian law, and how many are immigrants? In other words, what is the legal status of the people who make up Ouattara’s army, under Ivoirian law? I think defectors from Gbagbo’s camp would probably qualify as citizens, but are not many of Ouattara’s supporters people who moved to the country – perhaps undocumented immigrants – to work in agriculture?

  2. Unless one side has a significant military advantage I wouldn’t think they’ll be able to win quickly. What’s the reputation of the rebels down there? Do both sides have a history of serious abuses?

  3. Pingback: Cote d’Ivoire and the thinking trap « Wait… What?

  4. Pingback: Blog For Cote d’Ivoire #IvoryCoast #civ2010 #blog4civ

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