Ivory Coast: Pretending To End The Civil War


July 11, 2007: Despite the four month old peace agreement, the most important steps have not yet been taken. The army and rebel militias have not been reduced in size and integrated, as per the peace deal. Both sides have six more months to do this, as well as decide who, in the north, is a citizen (and eligible to vote) and who is not, then hold new elections. The issue of which migrants are citizens is what sparked the civil war five years ago and, in theory, the peace deal should make many migrants, or descendents of migrants, voters, and those voters may be sufficient to get the pro-government, and Christian dominated, party out of power. The north is mainly Moslem. The five years of conflict has done much damage to the economy and infrastructure, Unemployment is about 50 percent, and there are still 700,000 internal refugees (out of a population of 18 million). It's all about money. For decades, migrants from neighboring countries were allowed in to help with the booming cocoa market. But when growth in the cocoa market stalled (and competition from Ghana and Indonesia increased), the Christian southerners sought to expel many of the Moslem migrants in the north. Fighting broke out in 2002, but neither side was strong enough to prevail. That is still the situation. There is a peace agreement, but no real progress towards achieving peace.

July 1, 2007: Several arrests were made, of men suspected of carrying out the earlier attack on the prime minister. The men had hidden themselves at the airport, armed with an RPG and AK-47s. They fled after firing at the prime ministers landing aircraft.

June 29, 2007: Someone fired a rocket at an aircraft carrying the prime minister, Guillaume Soro. Four people died, but Soro was unharmed.

June 27, 2007: The last of the hundred or so military and civilian prisoners, held by government and rebels forces, were released, as per the March peace deal.

April 16, 2007: French and UN peacekeepers begin dismantling checkpoints which separated government and rebel forces, and divided the country.

April 7, 2007: President Gbagbo names a new government led by former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, who is now the prime minister.

March 4, 2007: The government and the rebels sign a peace deal that will make the head of the rebels the prime minister.


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