Ivory Coast History

Ivory Coast History

Beginnings up to the 19th century

In the south of the country, there were no larger state structures before colonization, individual tribes inhabited the rainforest and lagoon area. This was completely different in the savannah areas further north. These belong to the sphere of influence of the Mali Empire. When this fell apart, the Dagomba Empire emerged in the northeast in the 17th century, and the Kong Empire in the west. The East was under the influence of the Ashantikon Federation in the 18th century. During this time, the tribes of the Agni and Baule migrated from the northeast, those of the Kru from the west.

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As early as the 15th century, Portuguese had reached the coast, who were engaged in slave and ivory trade. French seafarers opened their first branch in Grand-Bassam in 1688, but this was abandoned again. The French did not return until the beginning of the 19th century and set up commercial branches and military bases on the coast. Numerous protectorate contracts with the individual chiefs followed, and in 1893 France proclaimed the Ivory Coast colony.


After the Second World War, the former colonies of France were included in the “Union Française” and African MPs from the former colonies were able to gain political influence in the Paris parliament. The later President and founder of the Ivory Coast, Houphouët-Boigny, then founded the RDA (Rassemblement D¨¦mocratique Africain) and worked as a minister in Paris. In 1958 the former colony became independent under his leadership, and in 1960 independent. Economically, militarily and culturally, however, it remained closely linked to France. In the 1960s and 1970s, the independent one-party state under Houphouët-Boigny turned out to be a special African case: Political stability and high economic growth made the Ivory Coast a comparatively wealthy country.

Latest developments

There was a turning point at the end of the 1980s: economic revenues declined, political unrest and international pressure led the aging president to introduce a multi-party system. The first general elections were held and the PDCI (Parti d¨¦mocratique de la Côte d ‘ Ivoire), led by Houphouët-Boigny, received the majority of the votes. After the death of Houphouët-Boigny in 1993, Konan B¨¦di¨¦ became president and the PDCI was – again involuntarily supported by an opposition boycott – reaffirmed in 1995 as a ruling party. But the regime of the unpopular B¨¦di¨¦ proved incapable. Hatred of immigrants was fueled, thousands were driven out of Abidjan, the economic metropolis, and opposition figures were arrested. So it was only a matter of time before a coup d’¨¦tat B¨¦di¨¦ fell on December 24, 1999.With great cheering from the people, a national committee consisting of members of the military led by former chief of staff Robert Guei took over. The general, which was very popular among soldiers, called on the political parties to propose candidates for a transitional government and held the prospect of democratic presidential elections in October 2000. However, these elections were overshadowed by a boycott of an opposition party, whose head Alassane Ouattara was ruled out by a court because of a foreign father. In the Islamic north of the country in particular, the residents followed the boycott call, in the cities of Abidjan and Bouak¨¦ the turnout was 35%. The United Nations, the Organization for African Unity and the EU refused toTo send election observers. Human rights organizations spoke of more than a thousand opposition figures arrested and tortured before the election.

According to AbbreviationFinder, Laurent Gbagbo won the October election well ahead of General Guei. The military ruler refused to recognize the election. The popular uprising broke out of Guei. Riots broke out again when Gbagbo rejected opposition leader Quattara’s call for new elections and was sworn in as president. Quattara was also excluded from the December 2000 general election, causing unrest and President Gbagbo to declare a state of emergency. Due to the election boycott of Quattara’s supporters, Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front won the parliamentary elections. The country’s political stability remained low: a military coup attempt failed in January 2001, as did September 2002.

In September 2002, however, civil war broke out despite the unsuccessful coup attempt: a part of the army (“Forces Nouvelles”) rose against the government and brought the northern half of the state under its control. The south was led by a transitional government under President Gbagbos. In between there was a buffer zone under the control of the United Nations, which had deployed almost 10,000 soldiers. In 2004 the situation escalated again and the government carried out heavy air strikes, causing France to destroy the country’s small air force. A disarmament agreement was signed in 2005 but was never enforced. In March 2007, after tough negotiations, President Gbagbo and the rebel chief Guillaume Kigbafori Soro signed a peace treaty.He was also appointed the new prime minister.

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Due to the ongoing domestic political crisis, no new elections to the presidency took place until November 2010. Gbagbo’s longstanding rival Ouattara emerged victorious from this ballot. After Gbagbo refused to recognize the election result, the country fell into another serious political crisis with significant outbreaks of violence. Eventually, Ouattara’s supporters, composed primarily of fighters from the former Forces Nouvelles rebel army, managed to penetrate Abidjan in spring 2010 and arrested Gbagbo on April 11. He was transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The security situation remains tense.

Ivory Coast President