Ivory Coast: May 13, 2003


Oil is an underlying factor in the Ivory Coast's civil war. Canadian Natural Resources discovered oil on the Acajou South prospect about 15 miles off the Ivory Coast in 3,050 feet of water. Tests have been encouraging for economic development of the discovery. 

The war had also briefly scared away many foreign ship owners from Africa's biggest tuna port, Abidjan, In 2001, the port handled 167,224 tons of frozen tuna, with fresh and off-grade tuna totaling another 60,126 tons. The fishing industry, both for local consumption and export, has picked up since the lifting of the overnight curfew. 

With all that potential profit at stake, no wonder the French have invested a total of 4,000 troops for "peacekeeping" duties and the UN Security Council will be sending 76 unarmed military observers (to be known by its French acronym of MINUCI), to monitor the ceasefire and assist other peacekeeping forces in the country. 

The current truce has held for a week, but indicators that the ceasefire will hold are in doubt. While the rebels and army haven't had any direct contact, the slaughter of civilians continues with depressing vigor. In the West (near government-held Duekoue), over 100 local Guere men, women and children had been killed since the 8th by Burkinan immigrants. The area north of Duekoue is rebel-held by rebels, but ethnic militias and armed Liberian refugees have also been operating in the remote area.

The question of who will be the permanent Defense and Security ministers also remains a stumbling block to disarmament, yet the Ivorian government has been acquiring additional air assets (although to date none of them have been effectively employed against the rebels). In addition to five Mi-24 gunships based at Adibijan, two MiG-23s were acquired and landed at that air base on April 27. Two British "Strike Master" light aircraft were also acquired, although they were in such poor shape that they had to be sent to neighboring Guinea's capital city Conakry for overhaul. - Adam Geibel


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