Cote d'Ivoire: Divide and Reap Chaos: How and Why Did Cote d'Ivoire, Once a Model African Nation in Terms of Economic Growth and Political Stability, Descend into the Conflict Ridden Nation It Is Today? Neil Ford Describes the Destructive Influence of Weak, Short-Sighted Political Leadership

By Ford, Neil | African Business, November 2003 | Go to article overview

Cote d'Ivoire: Divide and Reap Chaos: How and Why Did Cote d'Ivoire, Once a Model African Nation in Terms of Economic Growth and Political Stability, Descend into the Conflict Ridden Nation It Is Today? Neil Ford Describes the Destructive Influence of Weak, Short-Sighted Political Leadership


Ford, Neil, African Business


For many years, Cote d'Ivoire was known for its tradition of ethnic inclusiveness, us much as for its economic and political stability. President Felix Houphouet Boigny, who ruled from 1960 to 1993, pursued a policy of national cohesion and actively encouraged immigration from other parts of West Africa.

Yet the story of the past decade provides a salutary lesson in how easily a stable, economically strong country can be quickly brought to its knees by weak political leadership which attempts to cling to power by playing the ethnic card.

Most of the foreign workers who were welcomed into the country during the boom years of the 1970s and 1980s came from the poorer states of Mali and Burkina Faso to the north. Many of them came from the same ethnic and linguistic groups that populate the north of Cote d'Ivoire itself, where people were generally poorer than in the southern part of the country. Many of these mainly Muslim foreigners and northerners moved to the south-west cocoa growing areas to work on plantations, prompting southerners to collectively term them 'the northern community'.

The plantation workers lived peacefully alongside the people of the south, and although religious and cultural differences sparked occasional small scale conflict, it was nowhere near the scale of that exhibited in much of the rest of West Africa. Today it is estimated that up to 50% of the country's 17m population comprises foreign nationals.

The rise of ethnic tensions during the later 1990s, during a period of sustained growth, is difficult to explain in economic terms. The blame has been laid at the door of weak political leadership which followed Houphouet Boigny. Underlying tensions between difficult strands of Ivorian society and between locals and the millions of other West Africans who worked in the country were exploited for short term political advantages during the economic slowdown in 1999 and 2000.

It was President Henri Konan Bedie who set the seal on ethnic conflict in the country when he formalised divisions in the country through the policy of Ivoriete. This concept divided the population into 'pure Ivorians' and 'circumstantial Ivorians" who were defined as non-nationals who just happened to work in the country. It meant that hundreds of thousands of people born on the plantations could not gain Ivorian citizenship because one or other of their parents or grandparents had been born outside the country.

Bedie originally adopted the policy of Ivoriete in order to exclude a major political opponent, Alassane Ouattara, from the 1995 Presidential elections. Outtara's parents had been born outside the country.

Under this policy of Ivorianisation, foreign employees were replaced by local people wherever possible and the remaining foreigners were not accorded many of the rights associated with citizenship. The current period of political instability began in 1999, when General Robert Guei seized power.

As a consequence of Bedie's support for Ivoriete, not everyone was distraught by the Guei coup, but the general continued to implement the policy of divide and rule. The results of the 2000 Presidential election were then manipulated, provoking a popular uprising in October of that year, which forced Guei from office.

Laurent Gbagbo was confirmed as the country's new president and the whole episode looked like being recorded in the history books us something of an anomaly in an otherwise stable and relatively prosperous West African nation.

ADDING FUEL TO THE FLAMES

Indeed, many viewed the success of the popular uprising as evidence of the strength of democracy in Cote d'Ivoire. Yet although the C6te d'Ivoire Democratic Party (PDCI) of former President Bedie and Affi N'Guessan's Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) came together to form a coalition government following the fall of Guei, there were signs that political allegiances were being reformed along ethnic lines.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cote d'Ivoire: Divide and Reap Chaos: How and Why Did Cote d'Ivoire, Once a Model African Nation in Terms of Economic Growth and Political Stability, Descend into the Conflict Ridden Nation It Is Today? Neil Ford Describes the Destructive Influence of Weak, Short-Sighted Political Leadership
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.