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Ivory Coast Conflict

2005-2006

As 2005 began, the Ivory Coast Government started working on 6 January 2005, without the rebel leaders who abstained for security concerns. On 11 January 2005, South African President Thabo Mbeki, embarked on another concerted effort to reach a compromise between Gbagbo and the rebels. However, the groups failed to come together at a meeting in the capital of Yamoussoukro. Both sides began posturing for future conflicts. In late January 2005, Gbagbo's government received permission to repair some of the military aircraft and helicopters that France had destroyed in November 2004. The rebel forces, who control the territory where cotton was produced in the country, established an embargo to keep the material from going south into government control.

On 28 February 2005, 87 armed men supporting president Gbagbo attacked a rebel position at Logouale in the west. The attack was stopped by UN peacekeeping troops who detained the attackers. At least 15 people had been killed and 40 injured in the attack on the outpost. Once again, fearing an imminent attack, the rebel forces were put on full alert against a government offensive. While the UN pledge to send 1,200 more peacekeeping troops and extend its mandate, Mbeki attempted to host another round of peace talks in South Africa, which brought the warring parties together for the first time in 8 months. These negotiations in Pretoria South Africa began on 2 April 2005 and yielded an agreement between the leaders to immediately and finally cease all hostilities. It also reaffirmed October 2005 as the target date for the new presidential election, which would be followed by legislative elections.

The key part of the negotiation left unresolved was who would be eligible for the October 2005 election. Mbeki submitted arbitration, saying that all of the participants in the negotiations should be eligible, including Alassane Ouattara, who was banned from running due to one of his parent's non Ivorian lineage. On 15 April 2005, 2 ministers from the rebel camp attended a cabinet meeting at Abidjan, showing support for the new agreement. By returning to their part of the government it was hoped that they could instill an environment conducive to a fair and open election. Both sides also agreed upon tentative disarmament starting on 14 May 2005 which was later set at 27 June 2005. After a presidential decree by Gbagbo permitting Ouattara to run in the election, the date was set for 30 October 2005.

As loyalist militias began to symbolically disarm in preparation for the election, a wave of ethnic killings took the lives of more than 41 people in western villages. Revenge killings then accounted for 10 more death the subsequent day. On 25 August 2005, after a series of missed disarmament deadlines and a lack of electoral commission readiness, Mr. Soros declared that the New Forces would not participate in the election planned for 30 October 2005. After this failure, South Africa said it was ending its mediation of the Ivory Coast crisis and blamed the rebel and opposition parties. In September 2005, the government postponed presidential elections scheduled for 30 October 2005. In October 2005, the UN Security Council endorsed an African Union decision to extend the Linas-Marcouissis peace process for an additional 12 months. A new Prime Minister, Charles Konan Banny, and new cabinet were selected in December 2005.

Protests mounted by militias loyal to President Gbagbo in January 2006 threatened the independence of the Banny government and the ability of the African Union's International Working Group to oversee the peace process. Also in January 2006, violent street demonstrations by supporters of President Gbagbo occured, because they saw the UN presence as interference in internal affairs.

In February 2006, the main political rivals met on Ivory Coast territory for the first time since the inital 2002 rebellion. They agreed to meet again to iron out differences. Initial steps toward disarmament and elections began in May 2006. The government began a pilot identification program for citizens and foreign residents lacking birth and nationality certificates. Government and rebel New Forces military formations began various activities as a prelude to actual disarmament.

In June 2006, President Gbagbo's militias missed disarmament deadlines. Additionally, during June 2006, Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, visited the nation and urged that the previously delayed elections be held, to further the delicate peace process. Elections were intended to occur no later than 31 October 2006.

A 20 September 2006 "mini-summit" between the UN, ECOWAS, the AU, the government, and rebels failed when President Gbagbo threatened to boycott. Gbagbo proposed his own peace plan and said that peacekeepers should leave the country. This issue, along with voter registration and disarmament difficulties, compelled the UN Security Council to postpone elections until at least October 2007.

On 12 December 2006, the Ivorian military announced on national television that it had defeated a coup plot. According to an army spokesman, said "the course of action included political assassinations of authorities and military chiefs, in particular the president of the republic [and] the armed forces chief-of-staff." Although names had not been revealed, it was stated that militants with a "local political party" were responsible. Supporters of the president believed that France, with its 4,000-strong peacekeeping force, was aiding the rebels. To this end, the spokesman said that the coup was receiving "the support of a military force present in the Ivory Coast."




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