Last Updated: Friday, 09 October 2015, 14:14 GMT

State of the World's Minorities 2007 - Côte d'Ivoire

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 4 March 2007
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2007 - Côte d'Ivoire, 4 March 2007, available at: [accessed 10 October 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

A stand-off continues between a government dominated by southern ethnic groups, notably those of the Akan linguistic-cultural area and the minority Bété (of which President Laurent Gbagbo is one), and northern New Forces rebels largely consisting of Muslim ethnic Dioulas (Mandé) and Senoufos. For decades, Côte d'Ivoire had one of Africa's strongest economies and attracted large immigrant communities from Burkina Faso and Mali, many of whom stayed for generations, but whose citizenship is now disputed by many southerners.

The seeds of the current conflict were sowed in 1999 when Robert Guei (himself a Yacouba, a minority group along the Liberian border) seized power in a 1999 military coup and promoted his predecessor's xenophobic notion of 'Ivoirité' to question the citizenship of northerners, and to sideline prominent northern presidential candidate Alassane Outtara in 2000. Laurent Gbagbo replaced Guei following troubled elections that same year, but embraced 'Ivoirité', and his supporters killed scores of northerners. Northern army units mutinied in September 2002 and the resulting clashes killed thousands, leaving the country de facto partitioned.

Apart from a spike of violence in November 2004, an international buffer of 7,000 United Nations (UN) peacekeepers and 4,000 French troops has been successful in preventing the resumption of large-scale clashes. Following the failure of peace agreements in January 2003 and July 2004, the two sides signed a new compact in April 2005. The agreement aimed to address northern concerns about identification, nationality and electoral laws; it led to the demobilization of militant groups linked to President Gbagbo and provided for a transitional power-sharing government until elections in October 2005. With lagging implementation and tension still palpable, the UN Security Council approved an extension of the provisional government until October 2006, albeit under an internationally appointed prime minister alongside President Gbagbo.

In November 2006, with elections cancelled and leaders on both sides of the north-south divide cultivating ethnic division, the UN Security Council extended this arrangement until October 2007 elections. Though the Security Council resolution transfers military and civilian authority from President Gbagbo to appointed Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, Gbagbo immediately announced that 'any articles, any clauses in the resolution which constitute violations of Côte d'Ivoire's constitution will not be applied'.

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