Cote d’Ivoire Roundup: The Civilian Toll

I have been waiting to write something on Cote d’Ivoire until we see the resolution of the struggle between incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and internationally recognized President-elect Alassane Ouattara. But looking at the headlines this week, a lot of commentators are calling attention to the fact that “when the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers” (another version reads “ants”).

So this roundup concentrates not on the “big men” in the civil war, but on ordinary people. As a Reuters Africa headline read yesterday, “Ouattara [Has Been] Overshadowed by Ivory Coast Killings.” Whoever takes the presidency, the crises that war has produced, both inside Cote d’Ivoire and in its neighbors, will reverberate through people’s lives for some time.

  • AJE: “More than 100 bodies, some burned alive and others thrown down a well, have been found in
    the past 24 hours by United Nations staff in Cote d’Ivoire.” See the BBC and NPR for more.
  • UNHCR: “Cote d’Ivoire exodus into neighbouring countries swells to 150,000.”
  • IRIN: “Ivoirians who have fled across the border to Liberia have reported incidents of rape, sexual abuse and murder to NGOs and human rights groups.”
  • CNN: “Aid organizations are warning of an impending humanitarian crisis for tens of thousands of refugees who have arrived in Liberia after fleeing violence in Ivory Coast.”
  • Foreign Policy: “ICC to Investigate Crimes in Ivory Coast.”

Resolution of the Gbagbo-Ouattara duel may come at any time. But the rebuilding process will take much longer.

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.’ “


  • 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?

Africa News Roundup: Nigeria and Cheney, Niger and Cameroon Elections, Sudan and Wikileaks, and More

Nigeria: AJE: “Nigeria has dropped charges against Dick Cheney, the former US vice-president, over bribery allegations involving the energy giant Halliburton after an out-of-court settlement was agreed. Nigeria’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said that the charges were dropped on Friday after Halliburton agreed to pay fines totalling up to $250 million over allegations it paid millions of dollars in bribes to Nigerian officials.” Halliburton’s implicit admission of wrongdoing is a big deal.

In Nigerian election news, “twenty of Nigeria’s powerful state governors said on Thursday they would support President Goodluck Jonathan as the ruling party candidate in elections next April, giving him a boost ahead of a tough battle in the primaries.” The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) primary will take place January 13.

Finally, IRIN reports on corruption in the Niger Delta.

Niger will hold elections in January, and Cameroon will (probably) hold its presidential contest in October.

Sudan: BBC: “President Omar al-Bashir has been accused of siphoning off up to $9bn of his country’s funds and placing it in foreign accounts, according to leaked US diplomatic cables.”

Cote d’Ivoire: As the standoff between Cote d’Ivoire’s rival presidents continues, “The U.S. is prepared to impose ‘targeted sanctions’ on Ivory Coast’s incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.” The EU, meanwhile, “called on Ivory Coast’s army to defect from President Laurent Gbagbo to Alassane Ouattara, who won the presidential election last month.”

Ethiopia: Conflict is brewing over land policies in Ethiopia:

The government of Meles Zenawi is pioneering the lease of some three million hectares of land over the next five years, an area the size of Belgium.

The policy is targeting massive lowland areas mostly in the west and south-west of the country.

These are regions populated by smaller minority ethnic groups.

The government denies conducting any repression, and says instead that its policy is aimed at lifting local people out of poverty.

Foreign investors in Gambella include Chinese, Indian and Saudi firms.

Foreign control of land in the Horn of Africa is a trend worth watching.

Western Sahara: AFP: “Morocco and the Western Sahara rebel group, the Polisario Front, on Thursday started new talks on the future of the disputed north African territory, diplomats said. The three days of talks at Manhasset near New York are being guided by UN envoy Christopher Ross and also include representatives from Algeria and Mauritania.”

What are you reading today? Feel free to post links in the comments section.

Cote d’Ivoire Roundup Part 2

Last week’s roundup is here, and it includes background on the current crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.

News reports:

  • Reuters: President Laurent Gbagbo “has dismissed talk of a possible resumption of war, and said rival factions should negotiate a solution to a crisis provoked by a row over who won elections on November 28.”
  • IRIN: “With an official curfew stretching into a second week, Ivoirians in the economic capital Abidjan are contending with income loss and daily hardships, as well as uncertainty.” IRIN also has a timeline of events in Cote d’Ivoire.
  • New York Times: “An ominous warning, unheard since the aftermath of the previous civil war six years ago, is being whispered on the streets: the government death squads are back.”

International reactions:

  • AU: The African Union has suspended Cote d’Ivoire, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has as well.
  • US: “The United States said Friday it was looking for more ways to pressure Ivory Coast’s incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo into handing power over to his election rival Alassane Ouattara.” President Obama’s statement here. A report on Secretary Clinton’s remarks here. The US has also threatened sanctions.
  • UN: “Laurent Gbagbo had no grounds to dispute the results of the Cote d’Ivoire presidential election that gave Alassane Ouattara victory, the United Nations has said after reviewing the vote.” As of Wednesday, Russia was blocking a Security Council statement on Cote d’Ivoire’s elections: “Russia has expressed concern that by declaring Mr Ouattara the winner of last month’s disputed election the UN is exceeding its mandate.” The Security Council backed Outtara on Thursday, however.
  • UNHCR: “The UN refugee agency said Friday it was closely following the post-electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, which has led some 2,000 Ivorians, mostly women and children, to seek safety in neighbouring Liberia and Guinea.”


  • Matthew Tostevin (Reuters Africa Blog): “Ivory Coast Puts African Credibility on the Line.”
  • VOA Editorial: “After a decade of waiting and with strong U.S. support, the country has an opportunity to move forward along a democratic path. Responsibility for allowing the democratic process to unfold peacefully and openly falls squarely on the shoulders of Cote d’Ivoire’s leaders.”
  • G. Pascal Zachary (Christian Science Monitor): “The nation-state of Ivory Coast must move past the hollow calculus of counting votes. In the end, the imperatives of political transition – and national healing – demand that Ouattara get his turn as president.”
  • Caroline Fourest (Le Monde, French): “Is it neocolonialist to wish that the choice of the Ivoirian people might be respected?”
  • Salisu Suleiman (234 Next, Nigeria): “The lesson from Cote d’Ivoire must be clear: the personal ambitions of politicians should not accentuate ethnic and regional divisions in Nigeria’s political square.”

I leave you with a video from France24:

Feel free to treat this as an open thread.

Cote d’Ivoire Links Roundup

On many Saturdays I post interesting links about various countries in Africa. Today, given the turmoil in Cote d’Ivoire, I thought it appropriate to do a roundup specifically for that country. For those who have not been following the story, a declaration of victory for opposition candidate Alassane Outtara quickly gave way to a declaration of victory for incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo. Turmoil has resulted.

News reports:

  • Christian Science Monitor: “Two Candidates Claim Victory in Ivory Coast Election. Who’s Right?”
  • Financial Times: “The confused outcome of the run-off represents a major setback to nearly eight years of efforts by the United Nations, regional and western mediators to reunite the country and restore legitimacy to the state. It also presents a conundrum to interested countries abroad, including former colonial power France and the US. During campaigning, Mr Gbagbo and his supporters portrayed his rival, a former prime minister and senior official at the International Monetary Fund, as a stooge of foreign powers.”
  • Bloomberg: “The dispute over the results is threatening to worsen violence that left several dead during the campaign, including at least six people who were killed late on Dec. 1 at an opposition party office by unidentified gunmen.”
  • VOA: “The country is under an overnight curfew. All its borders are closed. Foreign news broadcasts are suspended indefinitely.”
  • BBC Q&A.

International Reactions:

  • UN: “U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council plan on Friday to endorse Ivory Coast’s provisional election results that declared opposition presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara as victor.”
  • AU: “The African Union said on Friday it was deeply concerned by developments in Ivory Coast and stressed that it was imperative that the will of the people and the outcome of elections be respected.”
  • White House: “The United States calls on all parties to respect the results of Côte d’Ivoire’s November 28 election as announced today by the Independent Electoral Commission.  Those provisional results have declared Alassane Ouattara the winner over incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo.  Credible, accredited electoral observers have characterized the balloting as free and fair, and no party should be allowed to obstruct further the electoral process.”
  • French Foreign Ministry: “Ivory Coast’s former colonial power France has not taken sides, but [ministry spokesman Bernard] Valero, echoing an earlier statement from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office, praised the ‘remarkable work and rigour’ of the electoral commission.”


  • Mark John (Reuters Africa Blog): “In the bad old days of post-colonial Africa, dictators would hail their landslide re-elections as a demonstration of the will of an adoring people while international observers would dismiss the polls as electoral farce. In the brave new Africa, it is often the other way round.”
  • Mohamed Vall (Al Jazeera): “It’s a dangerous development that barely falls short of a military coup. But not the traditional type of coup against a sitting president, it’s rather a coup on the future one.”
  • Rosebell Kagumire: “As the t[u]g of war continues…over the election results, the Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a statment that he’s watching the events closely.”
  • Petra Cahill (ABC): “Dreams of a West African paradise of peace and stability seem a long way off looking at the photos of angry youths taking the streets Friday.”
  • Ink Spots: “Stay tuned, this could get really bad.”

Feel free to post relevant links in the comments.

Sunday Africa Blog Roundup: AQIM, AQAP, US Mid-Terms and Africa

AQIM: Kal has some sweet maps.

AQAP: Gregory Johnsen writes on Yemen and the package bomb scare. Joshua Keating has more.

US Midterms and Africa: G. Pascal Zachary says a Republican-controlled House of Representatives might pay more attention to Africa.

West African Elections: Africa Monitor and Reuters Africa Blog look at the elections in Guinea and Ivory Coast.

Ethiopia/Sudan/Kenya: Mark Leon Goldberg at UN Dispatch writes about IGAD and Sudanese President Omar al Bashir.

I leave you with this Al Jazeera Talk video on an Arabic institute in Edo State, eastern Nigeria:

Saturday Links: West African Elections, Bin Laden and France, Somalia PM Crisis, Etc.

West Africa: International Crisis Group looks at upcoming elections in Guinea and Ivory Coast, arguing that “the stakes are simply too high” in many contests in West Africa. Because “there are good grounds for contestants to believe that if they lose they, and perhaps their whole community, may be excluded from power for a generation,” elections all too often result in civil conflict.

VOA has more on the elections in Ivory Coast.

Niger: A vote on a proposed constitution this Monday faces boycotts and skepticism (via Tommy Miles).
Central African Republic: Another set of electoral difficulties here. Reuters reports that “rebel groups in Central African Republic are blocking early preparations for a presidential election due in January, casting doubt on whether the latest target date for the poll can hold.”

France: Andrew Lebovich looks at Osama bin Laden’s new tape threatening France, which included statements on recent kidnappings in Niger.

Somalia: UN Special Envoy Augustine Mahiga met with Somali leaders in the Transitional Federal Government to help resolve a struggle over the appointment of a new prime minister.

US policy in Africa/Middle East: The Obama administration has waived requirements in the 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act and allowed the military to continue aid to Chad, Sudan, DRC, and Yemen.

South Africa: The Christian Science Monitor reports on the African Leadership Academy’s efforts to send young Africans to American and European universities.

What are you reading this weekend?