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What to Do About Ivory Coast

Author: John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies
January 11, 2011
International Herald Tribune


The downward spiral in Ivory Coast continues toward civil war or, at best, stalemate. The standoff between long-time ruler Laurent Gbagbo and the internationally supported presidential victor in credible if imperfect elections, Alassane Ouattara, is far from resolved. Both have had themselves sworn in as president. Both also maintain substantial support within their respective constituencies, some of whom are prepared to fight.

A recent general strike designed by the opposition to force Mr. Gbagbo out was widely observed in the north, where Mr. Ouattara derives much of his support, hardly at all in those parts of the country supportive of Mr. Gbagbo, and only sporadically in Abidjan, where Mr. Gbagbo's thugs, the Young Patriots, are active in the streets.

While the international community and African regional organizations are united in their determination that Mr. Gbagbo must go, outside opinion has only limited relevance inside a fractured Ivory Coast. The fear must be of a resumption of the country's destructive 2002 civil war that severely damaged the economy; hitherto Francophone West Africa's most successful.

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