Timeline: Ivory Coast

West African nation’s key events from 1960 independence until present day events.

Since the former French colony gained independence in 1960, it has experienced two coups d’etat and one civil war.The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire is a West African country split between the north and south following a 2002-03 civil war.

The official language is French, although many of the local languages are widely used including Baoulé, Dioula, Dan, Anyin and Cebaara Senufo.

The main religions are Islam (38.6 per cent), Christianity (32.8 per cent), (primarily Roman Catholic) and various indigenous religions (11.6 per cent).

1960  Cote d’Ivoire gains independence from France on August 7. Felix Houphouet-Boigny, a parliament member who spearheaded the independence movement, becomes the country’s first president.  

1979 – The country prospers economically, becoming the world’s leading cocoa producer, and is conspicuous for its religious and ethnic harmony under Houphouet-Boigny’s leadership.

1990 – Hundreds of civil servants launch a strike, joined by students protesting institutional corruption. The unrest forces the government to support and implement a multi-party democracy.

1993 – Houphouet-Boigny passes away and his ally Henri Konan Bédié succeeds him.

1995 – Bedie sweeps a presidential re-election. After taking office, he reportedly jails several hundred opposition supporters. He institutes the word “Ivoirite”, which initially referred to the cultural identity of all those living in Cote d’Ivoire.

But nationalist and xenophobic ideas spread by politics and the press lead to the term referring only to the south of the country.

It excludes the predominantly Muslim north, which had many immigrants from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso – who make up about one third of the country’s population.

Before the 2000 presidential elections, a law quickly passed by the government requires both parents of a presidential candidate to be born within Côte d’Ivoire.

This leads to the disqualification of the presidential candidate and former prime minister Alassane Ouattara, whose parents were allegedly Burkinabe immigrants, a claim that he contested.

1999 – A group of rebel officers stage a military coup, putting General Robert Guéï in power. Bédié flees into exile in France.

2000 – Guéï claims victory over Laurent Gbagbo, leader of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), the opposition party in a disputed presidential election. The election sparks a public uprising that resulted in about 180 deaths and leads to Gbagbo replacing Guéï.

2002 – Northern rebels who long voiced discontent over discrimination and marginalisation launch an armed uprising against government forces throughout the country, including the main city Abidjan. France sends troops to support Cote d’Ivoire’s military. Thousands are killed in the conflict.

The government retains control over the south, but loses the north to the rebels as a result of the civil war.

2003 – Gbagbo and rebel leaders sign accords creating a “government of national unity” although clashes between the two sides continue.

2004 – 120 people are killed when rallying opposition supporters clash with troops, and subsequent mob violence leads to foreign nationals being expelled. 

2005 – The presidential election that should have been held in 2005 is postponed until 2010.

2010 – December 3 – Preliminary results announced by the country’s electoral commission shows a loss for Gbagbo in favour of his rival Alassane Ouattara, who reaped 54 per cent of the vote.

The ruling FPI contests the results before the Constitutional Council, alleging massive fraud in the northern parts controlled by the rebels of the Forces Nouvelles de Côte d’Ivoire (FNCI).

December 4-6 The Constitutional Council declares the results of seven northern departments unlawful and that Gbagbo had won the elections with 51 per cent of the vote. These charges are refuted by international observers.

The report of the poll results causes severe tension and violent incidents throughout the country.

Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, arrives in Cote d’Ivoire on a mediation mission aimed at resolving the political crisis as fears of a resurgence of civil war escalated.

December 7-9 Economic Community of West African States suspends Cote d’Ivoire from all its decision-making bodies after President Laurent Gbagbo continued to ignore calls and pressure to step down. The UN security council backs Alassane Ouattara as the winner of Cote d’Ivoire’s disputed presidential election after days of deliberation. The African Union says it has suspended the country’s membership until Ouattara is installed in power.

December 15 – The government of Cote d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo orders the United Nations and French peacekeeping missions to leave the country, which they defy.

December 16 –  Protests over the disputed election turn violent in Abidjan and other cities. Ouattara’s camp said 30 people died in clashes while Gbagbo’s spokeswoman said 20 died, including 10 police officers killed by protesters.

December 17 – Raila Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister, calls for African nations to remove Gbagbo from office by force if necessary, further ratcheting up pressure on the incumbent.

December 19 – The United Nations warns that it has received growing reports of human rights abuses, including hundreds of reports of abductions. The UN special envoy to Cote d’Ivoire puts the number of people killed at more than 50, with 200 injured and 270 detained. The US state department orders most of its personnel to leave, and the EU imposes a travel ban on 19 pro-Gbagbo Ivorian officials.

December 20 – The UN extends the mandate for its peacekeeping force in Cote d’Ivoire, while US White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says “it is time for [Gbagbo] to go”.

December 21 – UN secretary general warns of a “real risk” of renewed civil war in Cote d’Ivoire. Gbagbo says he is ready to welcome a delegation of international representatives “to solve the crisis”.

December 22 – Gbagbo says he is “ready” for talks with rival Alassane Ouattara.

December 23 – The United Nations formally recognises Alassane Ouattara as the president of Cote d’Ivoire. The UN human rights office, meanwhile, puts the number of dead in post-election violence at 173, with 114 others either missing or tortured. The Ivorian military renews its commitment to support incumbent president Gbagbo, even as the West African central bank blocks funds to him.

December 24 – The West African regional bloc ECOWAS threatens Gbagbo with the use of “legitimate force” if he does not stand down.

December 25 – Over 14,000 people flee to neighbouring Liberia, as fears mount that the crisis could rekindle a civil war. 

December 27 – The internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara calls a nationwide general strike in protest against Gbagbo’s refusal to step down. The strike is not entirely successful, as many businesses remain open.

December 28 – A West African presidential delegation, representing ECOWAS, confronts Gbagbo, delivering an ultimatum to either step down willingly, or face the use of force. Gbagbo is given until January 3, the date of the next meeting, to respond.

December 29 – Youssoufou Bamba, the new Ouattara-appointed Ivorian ambassador to the UN, says his country is “on the brink of genocide”. After adopting a conciliatory tone during talks with ECOWAS, Gbagbo again goes on the offensive, with supporters being urged to “seize’ Ouattara’s headquarters at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan by January 1.

December 30 – The UN alleges that pro-Gbagbo security forces are blocking access to suspected sites of “mass graves”. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon warns that if Gbagbo supporters storm the UN-protected headquarters of Ouattara, it could push the country into civil war.

December 31 – West African military chiefs say a plan to military oust Gbagbo from power is ready, but will only be used as a “last resort”, if diplomatic efforts to force him to step down fail.

January 1 – Top ally of Ouattara accuses Gbagbo of using stalling tactics to stay in power and urges the “international community to intervene with legitimate force” to remove him.

January 2 – Raila Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister, named by the African Union to try to broker an end to the stand-off between Gbagbo and Ouattara, meets with Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian president, en route for Abidjan.

January 3 – Odinga and three African heads; Benin’s Boni Yayi, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Koroma and Cape Verde’s Pedro Pires, representing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union meet Gbagbo in Abidjan to urge him to step down.

January 4 – Gbagbo agrees to further talks and promises to lift a blockade around the temporary headquarters of Ouattara. ECOWAS and the African Union say Gbagbo “agreed to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis without any preconditions”.

February 7 – Violent clashes between pro-Laurent Gbagbo security forces and Ouattara are reported in Abobo neighbourhood. The UNHCR report that the number of refugees increased to over 36,000.

February 10 – Group of experts from the AU high-level panel tasked with investigating and resolving the persistent political crisis complete four day visit to Abidjan.

February 11 – United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire report 22 new deaths during the week in Abidjan. UNOCI says that total deaths since post election violence started had now surpassed 296.

February 22 – Fighting resumes for two days as security forces conduct raids of opposition neighbourhoods. Opposition forces respond by ambushing government paramilitary police.

February 24 – Violence reported in Abidjan and forces supporting Ouattara enter a town in the north, and say they are heading south, raising concerns of a return to civil war.

March 25 – UN Refugee agency estimates that up to one million people have been displaced since the post-election violence began.

March 30 – Ouattara’s forces capture the city of San Pedro, the world’s largest port for the export of cocoa. Gbabgo’s security forces guarding the barricaded hotel in which Ouattarra was trapped in, flee the scence. Ouattara decides to stay on at the hotel during this time.

March 31 – Assistant secretary of state for African Affairs Johnnie Carson calls on all sides to exercise restraint. He adds that protection of civilians should be of the “highest priority”. Pro-Ouattara forces reach Abidjan.

April 3 – Caritas, the Catholic charity, reports that over 1,000 civilians are killed in the town of Duekoue, with Ouattara’s forces alleged to be responsible for the crime. The UN evacuate civilian staff from Abidjan.

April 4 – The French army take over Abidjan’s airport. Reports suggest it is to facilitate the evacuation of foreign nationals. State television accuse the French of planning a genocide of the Ivorian people.

April 6 – France’s armed forces Edouard Guillaud tells the media that Gbagbo is negotiating his surrender.  Gbagbo denies the rumour. 

April 8 – Ouattara calls on the EU to lift sanctions in an attempt to bring some normality to the country. The move is seen as the first steps towards assuming executive powers. 

April 10 – Laurent Gbagbo is captured and arrested by Allasane Ouatarra’s forces and is taken to Abidjan’s Golf Hotel.

April 12 – Ouattara, the new president of the Ivory Coast, promises a South Africa style truth and reconciliation commission. Ouattara urged youth militia to lay down their weapons.

November 30 – Gbagbo arrives at the ICC and is remanded into custody to face four counts of crimes against humanity including murder, rape and persecution – becoming the first former head of state to be tried since its establishment in 2002.

Source: News Agencies

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