Ivory Coast. The new year began as the old one ended, with the internationally recognized new president Alassane Ouattara trapped in a hotel, protected by hundreds of UN soldiers and threatened by army soldiers loyal to old President Laurent Gbagbo who refused to admit his defeat.
During the winter, fruitless attempts by the African side were made to bring an end to the conflict as the US and the EU imposed financial sanctions on Gbagbo and his co-workers to pressure him to resign. The sanctions, and the armed clashes that went on uninterrupted, slowed down the country’s economic life. Banks and companies were closed, gasoline was running out and wages were not there.
In late February, the conflict developed into an open civil war, when clashes erupted in the western part of the country and in the political capital of Yamoussoukro. While Ouattara’s troops – mainly the former rebels from the north who go by the name of the New Forces – made advances in the west, Gbagbo’s alliance struck against civilian areas in Abidjan. The organization of Young Patriots leader Charles Blé Goudé – who has long been notorious for his upbeat speech – urged the country’s youth to enlist in Gbagbo’s army. Thousands are said to have obeyed the summons, while Ouattara’s forces took control of a number of smaller cities to the west.
According to Countryaah official site, the UN Human Rights Council has launched an investigation into Ivory Coast violence since reports poured in on a large number of civilian victims of the fighting.
At the end of March, Ouattara’s support troops began what developed into a final offensive. Yamoussoukro entered without significant resistance, while aid organizations raised alarms about massacre of civilians in the city of Duékoué in the west. Several hundred city dwellers were reported to have been killed, and both sides blamed each other.
At the beginning of April, the fighting in Abidjan culminated. The UN and France peacekeepers took control of the city’s airport, where some 1,400 foreigners sought protection. International forces also supported Ouattara’s troops by shelling the Gbagboarmen’s missions and the presidential palace to destroy heavy weapons. On April 11, the resistance was suppressed and Gbagbo could be arrested along with his wife and son. A few days later, they were taken to various cities in the northern part of the country where they were placed under house arrest.
The fighting since the end of 2010 was estimated to have claimed 3,000 lives and forced half a million to flee. The EU gradually phased out its sanctions against the Ivory Coast in the spring, but the UN Security Council extended by one year the ban on the country to buy weapons and sell diamonds. The intention was to put the new government under pressure to work for a peace process and make general elections.
The Constitutional Council, which in 2010 contributed to the crisis by proclaiming Gbagbo victorious in the presidential elections contrary to the election commission’s figures, in May acknowledged Ouattara as elected president, but he quickly replaced the President of the Council, who stood close to Gbagbo.
A number of other senior officials were dismissed or arrested. Charles Blé Goudé, who disappeared in the fall of the Gbagbor regime, was wanted internationally. Laurent Gbagbo and his wife were indicted on a number of charges of financial crime, including. misappropriation of public funds. Dozens of officers from Gbagbo’s army were indicted for assault during the civil war.
At the same time, human rights organizations and UN personnel also strongly criticized Ouattara’s forces for extrajudicial executions and other crimes during the conflict. Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) initiated preliminary investigations into war crimes committed by both parties.
After an arrest warrant was issued for Gbagbo, he was immediately extradited to The Hague, where preparatory negotiations took place in early December. He was charged with co-responsibility for murder, rape, persecution and other “inhuman acts”.
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission, led by former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, was commissioned by President Ouattara to try to get to the bottom of the causes of the conflict, including combustible issues such as land rights and citizenship. Among the eleven members of the commission there was the internationally known footballer Didier Drogba.
Parliamentary elections were held in December in calm forms but with low participation, only 37%, since Gbagbo’s party FPI called for a boycott. Ouattara’s party RDR gained close to half of the 255 seats and secured a strong majority with the help of the partner partner PDCI’s 77 mandates.