Ivory Coast. During the year, the image was reinforced that the Ivory Coast has taken important steps forward since the civil war in 2010-11. Under current President Alassane Ouattara, new reform projects have been launched, including investments in the country’s infrastructure. The economy in particular is moving forward and the country is now one of the fastest growing economies in West Africa.
However, the new year got a tumultuous start when sixty people lost their lives and more than 200 were injured in connection with a New Year celebration in the country’s largest city Abidjan. The accident was due to the congestion that occurred when around 10,000 visitors were to leave the New Year’s celebration held at the Felix Houphouët-Boigny sports arena, which was named after the country’s first president.
According to Countryaah, local and regional elections were held in April. The elections were boycotted by the largest opposition party of the Ivorian People’s Front (FPI), whose leader Laurent Gbagbo is with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, pending trial. Election day was relatively calm, but the following day about ten people were injured as supporters of losing candidates protested against the election result.
Later in the year, the Ivorian government announced that Gbagbo’s wife, Simone Gbagbo, will be brought to trial in Ivory Coast, which means the country will not comply with the ICC’s arrest warrant demanding that Simone Gbagbo be extradited to The Hague, where she and her husband stand prosecuted for several cases of crimes against humanity in connection with the civil war. At about the same time, an international discussion about the legitimacy of the ICC began after the African Union (AU) again criticized the court for systematically discriminating against Africans. So far, all cases that the ICC has investigated have been about crimes committed in Africa.
During the summer, the UN Security Council decided that the UNOCI peacekeeping mandate in the Ivory Coast should be extended by one year. The primary task of UNOCI is to protect the civilian population and work on disarmament, re-alignment and reform programs in the domestic security sector. At the same time, the Security Council decided that the force should be sharply reduced in the coming years.
In the autumn, discussions began between Ivory Coast and neighboring Liberia on joint action along the border between the two countries in order to increase security there. Although the violence has decreased significantly over the past six months, the situation is still difficult for the more than 60,000 Ivorians who are in Liberia, often in different refugee camps. In total, more than 200,000 people fled to the western neighboring country during the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire 2010-11. A large part of the refugees do not dare to return home due to continued instability and fear of political or ethnic persecution. In addition, many people have gotten rid of both land and property and thus find it difficult to support themselves when they return home.
In a UN report published in late 2013, the Ivory Coast was accused of sending several so-called death squads to Ghana during the year to kill supporters of the former president, Laurent Gbagbo. According to the report, bribes also appeared against Liberian mercenaries and Côte d’Ivoire leaders in order to stave off attacks against the Ivorian government.