Cote D'Ivoire: Chaos Threatens

A rebellion by just a few hundred troops in one of West Africa’s most stable states threatens the whole region. If not dealt with carefully, people could be displaced in huge numbers. The hired guns who did so much damage in neighbouring countries sense rich pickings.

The World Today Updated 23 October 2020 Published 1 November 2002 4 minute READ

Desmond Davies

Editor, West Africa magazine, London

It began as a mutiny on September 19 by seven hundred soldiers who had been demobilised from the Ivorian army. By the middle of last month, the government of President Laurent Gbagbo and the rebellious troops were locked in a deadly battle for supremacy in Cote d’Ivoire, a country that has been a rock of stability for almost forty years in a very unstable West Africa. By mid-October the prospects did not look too good.

Attempts by the fifteen-nation regional grouping, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to broker a ceasefire failed as the protagonists stuck rigidly to entrenched positions.

The government was reluctant to talk to the rebels because it felt this would confer legitimacy on them. The rebels, on the other hand, believed that they could get the government to step down as they strengthened their control of the garrison town of Bouake in the centre of the country and Korhogo further north.

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