Get our free emagazine!

At a Glance: A History of Conflict in Côte d’Ivoire

Ivory Coast

December 1999

Henri Bedie overthrown in military coup. Robert Guei takes power.

October 2000

Fighting breaks out between supporters of Laurent Gbagbo (primarily from the south) and supporters of Alassane Ouattara (primarily from the north). Gbagbo becomes president.

September 2002

Rebels take over the north after failed coup attempt. Conflict escalates.

October 2010

Côte d’Ivoire holds first election in 10 years. Gbagbo and Ouattara lead first round of voting.

December 2010

After November's run-off vote the president of the Independent Electoral Commission declares Ouattara the winner. The Constitutional Council declares Gbagbo the winner, leading to standoff.

January 2011

UN Security Council votes unanimously to deploy 2,000 peacekeepers and the international community imposes sanctions to unseat Gbagbo.

March 2011

Civilian casualties mount at the hands of the Armed Forces (controlled by Gbagbo) and rebels loyal to Ouattara.

Call Off Côte d’Ivoire's Bloody War Games

While Côte d’Ivoire violently splits into camps supporting Laurent Gbagbo or Alassane Ouattara—the two men vying for power after November’s disputed election—Ivorian Voices of Our Future correspondent Harmony B. suggests a third option: none of the above.

"By sending troops to my country, the whole world has signed our death sentence."

© UN Photo/Basile Zoma

That morning brought a smile to my face: It was the opening of the presidential campaign in Côte d’Ivoire. This year’s election had filled my country with the hope of reunification after eight years of division between the northern and southern parts of the country. There was even a female candidate on the ballot, Jacqueline Oble. She caught my attention, bringing forth an interest in politics that I had not known existed in me.

Before this election, I would skim the headlines for the top news stories. But this year was different. We thought this election would bring things back to normal after a failed coup attempt led to violence that divided our country in 2002: People would be able to go back to their villages, repossess their houses, return to work. We believed the elections would bring us a regular government and a working economy.

The hope I felt for this female candidate running for president in October was soon replaced by disillusionment. The entire election was fraught with tension from the outset. We waited, hoping that calm would at last settle over my country as the election results were announced.

The time was already 11:42pm on December 1, 2010—the day the results were supposed to be in—and there had still been no announcement. When Youssouf Bakayoko, the president of the Independent Electoral Commission, went on the air without announcing the winner, I knew in my heart that a definitive answer would not emerge in the next eight minutes. I felt fear taking over my body, but I told myself to be positive. 
My friends and I sat in front of the TV until 2am but still no results were given. Rumors began to emerge that the results were tainted by fraud, that the Independent Electoral Commission could not explain certain results, and that challenger Ouattara was the winner. I switched my phone off to avoid a heart attack.

The whole country was quiet for three days. Abidjan was so empty that even in Adjame-Liberté—where the hum of traffic is usually constant—there were barely five cars. The atmosphere was scary.

Later the rumors were confirmed: The president of the Independent Electoral Commission had declared Ouattara the winner, but the Constitutional Council invalidated results from contested regions—leading both Ouattara and incumbent Gbagbo to claim the presidency. Today, as the UN has reported, after two rounds of the election, “Gbagbo still controls government buildings, state television and the security forces, while Ouattara remains trapped in the lagoon-side of the Golf Hotel, under guard of UN troops. He has set up a rival government with international (UN, France, African Union and ECOWAS) backing, but no power.”

In an attempt to weaken Gbagbo’s control, the United States and many Western countries imposed sanctions in January that remain in place today. Trash is burning in front of stores. Some schools and businesses have closed. Men are arming themselves. Women and children are fearful to leave their homes. My younger brother who lives alone in Abidjan now sleeps at a friend's house for safety. The UN has reported that nearly 450,000 people have been displaced from their homes. The violence is escalating. Hundreds have been murdered since the election results were announced, and women and men throughout the country are crying out. Many anticipate the darkness of civil war taking hold of our country once again.

The rebels are in place to dislodge Gbagbo. The UN has sent troops and the Economic Community of West African States is also rumored to be sending forces. I watch soldiers descend on my country, and I worry that we are forgetting our history. When the Armed Forces and their former leader, General Robert Guei, took power in 1999 we all congratulated them, legitimating the use of violence to claim power in our country. People died, but we thought it was the best option. Again, in 2000, my countrymen and women lost their lives in the name of democracy.

I have always known Côte d’Ivoire as a country of peace, and I am very disturbed by all this killing and bloodshed. I could not understand the spell we were living under in 2002 when the failed coup led us into years of conflict. For the past eight years we have lost ourselves in a world of fighting, killing, rapes, mass graves, and child soldiers. Today we cannot trace the real figures of human lives lost.

I am left trying to sort out why this is happening all over again. . . .


SAsong's picture

So proud of you Harmony

Thank you for presenting a refreshing, well-thought out, and supported piece. Hugz and be safe!

HARMONY's picture

Hi Song

Thank You!

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

warona's picture

Peace & Harmony!

Dear Harmony,

Yes my friend you have taken me into Africa.Good governance is all that which we want.Why don’t we skip the violence? Why don’t we sit down, negotiate and discuss, straight from the beginning, and save our lives? 
We are not asking for money or for food to fall from the sky. We want our lives spared. We want to go to school, get medical care, do our business, trade, and live without fear. We want to invest and see our children laugh and dance and grow with love.And all that you can go on and name it.

You would really wonder what people want, why no peaceful elections?I can imagine how this has held the breakthrough of your country.No business,no transactions, all eyes are glued to this sanctions.The situation is so overwhelming, so touching as well.You know in Botswana, am actually waiting for the 2014 elections, really during this time we have good time here.I appreciate God so much for my mother land.I cry with you sister.

When you talk about the sending of troops it makes me sad.Indeed it is sentecing people to death.I tell you,here in Botswana, the whole world will hear the most amazing records of people living in caves and other hideous places seeking for refuge, because really we are not used to those gun shots.

Anyway thank you so much sister for unveiling this vivid truth.May God help the people of Cote 'Dvore.

Grateful to you gal


"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

HARMONY's picture

Hi Sister

Thanks for your precious wishes! Because only God, a miracle from heaven can end this mess.

The most amazing part is that people are ready to dye and they tell you: "Yes we will give our chest and serve as human shield to protect him. This year we are on it till the end"

It is sad and scaring how people are careless about what may happen to their lives. And this is the result of Human greed, Politicians thinking of themselve.

We are still hoping that love will prevail at last long.

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

shasha's picture


Well said dear, what is happening in Ivor Coast is not what we expecting Africa to be, for Africa leaders are selfish, greedy, and self centered known of them wants to give up their sovereignty but rather to be a leaders for the rest of their lives.

Well we the younger generation, certainly will be more enlightened and surely will make Africa a better place,

Insha Allah's picture

powerful voice

Dear sister Harmony,

Thank you very, very much for sharing the story of your country. I have much learned about you country and the conflicts you are dealing with through your pieces here, in the WorldPulse. I am greatly inspired by your just outlook and powerful voice. I believe, despite having many challenges, Côte d’Ivoire can see the bright in the near future because of amazing woman leaders like YOU.

In admiration,
Insha Allah

Shwe Wutt Hmon

alma.raymer's picture

Dear sister, I hope you

Dear sister,

I hope you remain strong in these trying times. Keep speaking, keep believing.

I would ask that all who read this whose countries are involved in the blockade contact their representatives, write letters, make phone calls, annoy them! Whatever it takes to get their attention! Use our sister's voice and lift it up!

And let's curse those politicians, as only thousands of women across the world can. Let's give them something difficult to face!

Stay strong and see the light! We support you!


Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Letters to a Better World

Letters to a Better World

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

womenspace's picture

CAMBODIA: Ordinary Women Can Make a Difference

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative