A pillar of France’s power system in West Africa even after the end of colonialism, Côte d’Ivoire has proved to be an area of crisis whose effects extend far beyond its borders. The reasons for the instability concern the forms and contents of a difficult transition that puts political rights at stake, the integration between the different ethnic, cultural and productive components of society and even national identity. The introduction of the concept of ivoirité had a relevant weight for the precipitate of the situation. Since independence, acquired in 1960, the history of the Ivory Coast has long been intertwined with the personal one of Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled the country until his death in 1993. the transition from single party to multi-party was initiated in a situation of social and economic crisis that rapidly transformed what was considered a model of political stability for the entire region into a country in the throes of civil war. The reforms were particularly opposed by those leaders who were an expression of agrarian interests and referents of foreign investors. Houphouët-Boigny died, Henri Konan Bédié, head of the National Assembly, became president, on the basis of the provisions of the Constitution and with the decisive support of France. Bédié became the spokesperson for the concept of ivory and excluded from political life, also segregating them constitutionally, all residents from or originating from other African countries, who had arrived in the Ivory Coast during colonialism at the time of the economic boom and represented about one third of the entire population. Thus the delicate balance of a composite society, traditionally capable of integrating the flows of foreign workers, was jeopardized. Bédié was later ousted in 1999 by General Robert Guei’s coup d’état who, in turn, did not recognize the results of the 2000 elections, won by Front Populaire candidate Ivoirien (FPI) Laurent K. Gbagbo, who was then known as strenuous opponent of Houphouët-Boigny. Following violent unrest, Guei fled in October 2000, leaving the presidency to Gbagbo. The situation worsened in 2002 when, after another coup, the north of the country was effectively occupied by the anti-government forces close to Guei, who was killed in circumstances never cleared up. The country split in two, with a legitimist and identifying south and a rebellious north close to the claims of ‘foreigners’. A ceasefire was reached in October 2002 with the creation of an interposition belt between the north and south of the country, which was monitored by French troops. Gbagbo’s suspicions about the former colonial power’s possible support for the rebels fostered wider international involvement, which in 2003 led to the mission of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), which then passed under the mandate of the United Nations from 2004. The agreement signed in Ouagadougou on 4 March 2007, which involved the demobilization of the various armed factions and the reunification of the country under a new transitional government, was only partially applied. The call for new presidential elections on October 31, 2010 (expected for five years) has led to a worsening of the crisis: after the Independent Electoral Commission declared the winner in the second round Alassane Dramane Ouattara, leader of the Rassemblement Démocratique des Républicains (RdR ), the Constitutional Council, perhaps under pressure from above, canceled the vote in some northern districts and proclaimed the outgoing president Gbagbo the winner. After five months of civil war, the reaction of the international community and, in particular, the French military intervention in support of the recognition of the electoral victory of Alassane Ouattara,
According to itypeusa, the external involvement that took place over the years of conflict gives an idea of the network of international relations in which the country is involved. The Ivory Coast is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Ecowas – of which Ouattara was rotating president between 2012 and 2014 -, the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States (Cen-Sad) and the Francophone Community. Paris remains the main political and economic partner of the Ivory Coast, especially for the infrastructure investment plans envisaged for some large cities. It is precisely the investment opportunities and the government’s need to finance its ambitious spending plans that drive Côte d’Ivoire’s international relations, hence the country’s progressive approach to the East, and to China in particular. Relations with the United States are also excellent. On the regional level, the country has repeatedly played a mediating role with its neighbors, however cooperation between them remains marked by political rivalries, border disputes and the lack of institutional channels that correctly address the various open issues. The Ivory Coast avoids challenging the ambitions of leadership pursued by powerful Nigeria in the name of regional cooperation, and directs relations with Ghana and Liberia according to their support for Ouattara’s struggle against militias loyal to Gbagbo. Ivorian international relations could take unexpected turns if the investigations into the atrocities committed during the conflict, which have already led to the indictment of Gbagbo in The Hague, prove the involvement of members of the new government of Ouattara.