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Ivory Coast

Yearbook 1999

Ivory Coast. According to Countryaah official website, the usually stable Ivory Coast was drawn into a rousing political conflict since the government denied opposition leader Alassane Ouattara the right to Ivorian citizenship. Ouattara, a former prime minister, left a high position at the International Monetary Fund and temporarily returned in July to be elected leader of the largest opposition party, the Republican Assembly (Rassemblement des republicans, RDR), and become its candidate in the 2000 presidential election. Ouattara is actually a citizen of Burkina Faso because his one parent comes from there, and they were accused of having forged identity papers. A court ordered that Ouattara be arrested as soon as he returned. Several of his party mates were sentenced to two years in prison for protest actions. The campaign against Ouattara was seen as an attempt to remove the only serious opponent in the presidential election. The government's actions triggered widespread unrest in the Ivory Coast and also widened the gap between the Muslim northern part of the country, from where Ouattara comes, and the Christian south, which is the president's home region. The crisis also illustrated the difficulty of building a nation-state in a formerly colonized region, where people for generations moved beyond the artificial borders.

1999 Ivory Coast

The crisis was deepened by the government being forced to repay around SEK 240 million to the EU, which was cut off from aid projects. The scandal strengthened the public's perception that the deep class divisions of the Ivory Coast are the result of widespread corruption.

In late December, President Bédié was overthrown in a military coup led by General Robert Guéi, an old arch enemy to the president. Guéi, who was named head of state by the military junta, presented the coup as a blow to democracy and the unification of the nation. The military junta promised to announce democratic elections at a later, unspecified, occasion. In anticipation of the election, General Guéi invited the other parties to participate in an interim unity government. The coup general also launched a campaign to get the new leaders internationally recognized as the country's legal directors.

The downed President Bédié left with his family the country in a French army helicopter. He demanded to be re-installed as president and received support from Nigeria and South Africa.

 
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