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Ivory Coast - GOVERNMENT

Ivory Coast - Government and Politics

Ivory Coast

THE FIRST POSTINDEPENDENCE regimes of sub-Saharan Africa were characterized by some form of personal rule. In theory, such regimes would govern during the transition period following independence but preceding the full development of the governing institutions of the newly independent states. In reality, however, the leaders of the various independence movements, who subsequently had become government officials, often manipulated public resources, acquired vast wealth and status, and generally consolidated their hold on power. Where the transitional systems acquired legitimacy, as in Côte d'Ivoire, it was almost entirely the result of the ability of the leader-politician, in the absence of strong governing institutions, to provide adequate material and political rewards to a broader constituency.

In 1988 governance in Côte d'Ivoire remained the province of one man: President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, affectionately called le vieux (the old man). He had ruled since independence and had dominated Ivoirian politics since the stirrings of nationalism in the mid-1940s. From the onset of his tenure in 1960, debate was virtually suspended as Houphouët-Boigny subjected the polity to his paternalistic yet stern control. He wielded executive power as head of state, head of government, head of the ruling party, and commander in chief of the armed forces. In his role as head of government, he appointed his cabinet (Council of Ministers), named the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and selected the heads of all extragovernmental commissions and councils. As head of state, he formulated and conducted foreign policy. As head of the party, he set policy directions and appointed the entire membership of all policy-making boards. Although there were occasions when popular sentiment as expressed through party organs or the National Assembly forced the president to alter a policy decision, he was without question the dominant political force.

Houphouët-Boigny's charisma contributed to the myth of Houphouëtism, as his ruling style was labeled, enabling him to convert the skeptics and awe the faithful. In spite of his power, Houphouët-Boigny's style of rule was by choice paternalistic. Houphouët-Boigny became a transcendent symbol of unity to the disparate groups in Côte d'Ivoire, and his charismatic authority supplanted the traditional authority of the local chiefs. Although Houphouët-Boigny's hold on the national imagination was weakening by the late 1980s, many Ivoirians continued to reject out of hand any reports of the president's avarice or violations of trust.

To repay his supporters with adequate material rewards, Houphouët-Boigny developed economic policies that combined free enterprise and state capitalism with liberal foreign investment and continued economic dependence on France. Houphouët-Boigny's strategy for development also led to a broad gap in wealth and power between the urban elite--the rulers--and the rest of the population.

As a measure of Houphouët-Boigny's success, liberal economic theorists and conservative students of African politics cited Côte d'Ivoire as an economic and political miracle. Indeed, through 1979 Côte d'Ivoire posted one of the highest rates of economic growth among all developing countries, and the highest per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of any nonpetroleum-exporting African country. Coupled with the rapid rate of growth was a political stability unparalleled in sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike most of his counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa, Houphouët-Boigny resisted pressures to sever ties with the colonizing power (France) or to Africanize the bureaucracy, two steps that, when taken in other former colonies, usually meant reduced funds for investment and expanded opportunities for corruption. He also resisted pressure to subsidize large industrial projects with revenues from cash crops. Instead, he relied on foreign--mostly French--investment, technology, and support to develop the country's economic base and administrative infrastructure.

Under Houphouët-Boigny's administration, Côte d'Ivoire's foreign policy was consistently pro-Western. Its fundamental objective was to promote economic development at home by promising peace and security within West Africa. Côte d'Ivoire also maintained extensive economic and military ties with France, even though this meant bearing the neocolonialist label. Diplomatic relations with the United States, if less substantial, were also warm. For instance, Côte d'Ivoire was sub-Saharan Africa's staunchest supporter of the United States in the United Nations. Matching the strength of its support for the West was Côte d'Ivoire's distrust of the Soviet Union. Côte d'Ivoire did not establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union until 1967, severed them in early 1969 amid accusations of Soviet subversion, and did not reestablish them until 1986, as part of Houphouët-Boigny's quest for international stature. HouphouëtBoigny also broke with most other African leaders by attempting to establish a dialogue with South Africa and, in 1986, by reestablishing diplomatic relations, which had been broken following the October 1973 War, with Israel.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - The Constitution

Ivory Coast

On October 31, 1960, the National Assembly of Côte d'Ivoire adopted the Constitution establishing an independent republic. The 1960 Constitution calls for a strong, centralized presidential system with an independent judiciary and a national legislature.

As in much of the Ivoirian political system, French influence weighed heavily in the preparation of the Constitution. HouphouëtBoigny and its other authors had received much of their formal political education and experience in France, and Houphouët-Boigny himself had served in successive French governments in the 1950s. Not unexpectedly, the 1960 Constitution was largely taken (often verbatim) from the 1958 constitution of the Fifth Republic of France. Like its French counterpart, the Ivoirian Constitution declares that all power derives from the people and is expressed through universal suffrage. It also mandates the separation of executive and legislative authority with limits on the power of the former.

In its preamble, the Constitution proclaims its dedication to liberal democratic principles and inalienable human rights as expressed in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under the rubric "Of the State and Sovereignty," the initial articles of the Constitution describe the symbols of the state--the flag, the motto, and the national anthem--and name French the official language. Articles 3 through 7 delineate the fundamental rights and principles pertaining to Ivoirian citizenship: universal suffrage, popular sovereignty, and equality before the law. Significantly, in light of the government's subsequent coercive support of a single political party, Article 7 of the 1960 Constitution formally allows a multiparty system.

The first chapter of the Constitution directs that the government consist of executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The three subsequent chapters of the Constitution list the powers accruing to each. The Ivoirian Constitution provides for a strong executive, although it couches the language of power in democratic terms. For example, in keeping with the articulated principle of popular sovereignty, the Constitution provides that the National Assembly shall vote laws and consent to taxes but then limits the assembly's power by specifying exactly the matters on which the legislature may act. Matters constitutionally excluded from the legislature's purview automatically fall within that of the executive and are dealt with either by decree or by regulation. The Constitution also stipulates that the executive and the National Assembly share the power to initiate legislation, but the pertinent article appears in the chapter dealing with executive--not legislative--responsibilities. In fact, for most of Côte d'Ivoire's brief history as an independent republic, nearly all legislative programs have originated with the president and have been rubber-stamped by the assembly.

The Constitution also calls for a separate judiciary. As with the legislature, however, the Constitution makes the judiciary subordinate to the individual who guarantees its independence, that is, the president. The Constitution neither establishes nor protects a judiciary independent of or opposed to the government. The Constitution does provide for the Supreme Court and a subordinate court system; nevertheless, it does not stipulate the exact structure of the judiciary, a task that officially was to be done by the National Assembly. In fact, the assembly simply approved the president's plan.

The ninth chapter of the Constitution establishes the Economic and Social Council (Conseil Economique et Social), the purpose of which is to advise the president on matters pertaining to economic development and social change. The final two chapters provide procedures for amending and adopting the Constitution.

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Ivory Coast - Civil Rights

Ivory Coast

The Constitution lists and defines protected civil rights in the initial articles and in a few brief references elsewhere. Like the French constitution, it promises equality before the law without respect to place of origin, race, sex, or religion. It also specifically mandates religious freedom and prohibits any manifestations of racial discrimination. The Constitution also guarantees freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, the right to representation at a trial, and the principle of innocence until guilt is proven. However, the Constitution does not guarantee bail; thus suspects are routinely incarcerated from the time of arrest until either acquitted in a trial or sentenced. The Constitution does not guarantee a free press or freedom of assembly, thereby virtually eliminating the means by which opposing political parties might develop. Otherwise, the Constitution leaves more explicit guarantees of individual liberties to the legislature.

In practice, the government generally respected the civil rights provisions of the Constitution, preferring co-optation instead of coercion to enforce its will. The United States Department of State described human rights as generally satisfactory, in contrast to conditions in most other sub-Saharan countries. At the same time, the government was not timid about violating the spirit of the Constitution when dealing with political opponents. For example, youthful political opponents were routinely conscripted into the armed forces, which was one of Houphouët-Boigny's favorite ploys to silence opponents while still being able to boast of holding no political prisoners. Also, all local news media were state owned and therefore expected to support the government and its policies. In October 1986, in the face of a budding movement for a more independent press, Minister of Information Laurent Dona Fologo threatened to fire "black sheep" journalists who did not sufficiently assume the role of public servants. Although major European and American newspapers and magazines were generally available and interested Ivoirians routinely heard French radiobroadcasts, government leaders did not hesitate to ban the circulation of a publication deemed offensive. In November 1987, for example, the Political Bureau of the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (Parti Démocratique de Côte d'Ivoire--PDCI) asked the government to ban the sale of Jeune Afrique following its allegations that Houphouët-Boigny was involved in the October 1987 coup in neighboring Burkina Faso.

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Ivory Coast - The President

Ivory Coast

The executive branch was headed by the president and included cabinet ministers and their administrations. The Ivoirian Constitution augments presidential power by combining with it the functions of prime minister while subordinating the role of the National Assembly. Under the Constitution, the president has authority to appoint and dismiss ministers, military officers, and members of the judiciary. The president promulgates laws and ensures their execution, negotiates and ratifies treaties (subject in some cases to the National Assembly's approval), and sets national policy.

As a coinitiator of laws, the president was able to exercise effective control over legislation. Moreover, constitutional mandates coupled with enabling legislation ratified by the National Assembly gave the president what amounted to government by decree. Bills were not always passed unanimously, but that was the practical effect.

The president is elected to a five-year term by universal suffrage and can be reelected indefinitely. To be elected, a candidate must be at least forty years old; other qualifications were fixed by legislation.

The Constitution also provides for the Council of Ministers, whose members are appointed by the president. Although ministers served at the will of the president, he accorded them considerable freedom of action to propose policies and projects within their respective areas of competence. The proposals were then debated by the Council of Ministers.

In the 1980s, Houphouët-Boigny selected his ministers from the growing pool of younger, educated technocrats who had replaced the political militants of an earlier generation. Selected at least in part on the basis of merit, the new men came to government without independent constituencies and were therefore indebted to the president, which was consistent with Houphouët-Boigny's view that government in immature states should be personal rather than institutional. Government, then, became Houphouët-Boigny's administrative agency and not a forum for settling political differences.

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Ivory Coast - The National Assembly

Ivory Coast

Under the Constitution, legislative responsibilities theoretically belong to a unicameral National Assembly (Assemblé Nationale). In 1985 it was enlarged from 147 to 175 members, who were known as deputies (députés). Qualifications for candidates to the Assembly were established by the government. Like the president, deputies were elected by universal suffrage within a constituency for five-year terms. Until 1980, Houphouët-Boigny had handpicked the deputies, who were automatically elected to the assembly as part of a single slate. Consequently, the National Assembly was a passive body that almost automatically consented to executive instructions. The assembly did have power to delay legislation by means of extended debate. Deputies, however, rarely challenged the president's policy decisions, and little debate occurred. Starting with the 1980 election, Houphouët-Boigny opened the process so that any qualified citizen could be a candidate. Moreover, the constitutional amendment of October 1985 stipulating that the president of the National Assembly would become interim president of the republic, should the presidency be vacated, conferred greater importance on the workings of the assembly.

Pursuant to the Constitution, each legislative term lasted five years, during which the National Assembly sat for two sessions per year. The first term began on the last Wednesday in April and lasted no more than three months. The second opened on the first Wednesday of October and ended on the third Friday in December. The president or a majority of the deputies could request an extraordinary session to consider a specific issue. Meetings of the assembly were open unless otherwise requested by the president or one-third of the deputies.

The National Assembly elected its own president, who served for the duration of the legislative term. In 1988 this position was second only to the president of the republic in the table of precedence. It was held by Henri Konan Bedié for the 1985-90 term. The assembly president's staff was also elected by the assembly. A member of this staff would preside over the National Assembly whenever the president of the assembly was not present.

Legislation was proposed within three standing committees: the Committee for General and Institutional Affairs, which covered interior matters, the civil service, information, national defense, foreign affairs, and justice; the Committee for Economic and Financial Affairs, which covered financial and economic affairs, planning, land, public works, mines, transportation, postal service and telecommunications; and the Committee for Social and Cultural Affairs, which covered education, youth and sports, public health and population, labor, and social affairs. The assembly could also form special standing committees for specific purposes. Each committee presented to the full assembly legislative proposals pertaining to affairs within its area of expertise. Determining the legislative agenda was the responsibility of the president of the National Assembly, his staff, and the committee heads.

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Ivory Coast - The Economic and Social Council

Ivory Coast

The Constitution also provides for the establishment of the Economic and Social Council, which advises the president on issues of an "economic or social character." In 1988 the council had forty-five members, all of whom were selected by the president for five-year terms from among those members of the elite most concerned with economic development and social change. By the late 1970s, membership included the leaders of the growing commercial and industrial sector. With the exception of its president, who was named by the president of the republic, the council elected officers and distributed its members among various standing committees with discrete areas of responsibility. In 1986 Houphouët-Boigny named Philippe Yacé to head the council. Although the president was obligated to consult with the council on all matters within its competence, the council could also offer unsolicited opinions pertaining to economic development on all laws, ordinances, and decrees. Moreover, on its own initiative, the council could direct the president's attention to any economic or social issue.

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Ivory Coast - Judicial System

Ivory Coast

The 1960 Constitution entitles all Ivoirians to a fair public trial. That mandate was generally respected in urban areas; in rural villages, traditional institutions more commonly administered justice. Indigent defendants were also entitled to legal counsel by court-appointed attorneys. In practice, public defenders were often unavailable, and there was a vast difference between the representation accorded rich and poor clients. According to the Constitution, judges are subject only to the law, and the president, with the assistance of the Superior Council of Magistrates, is charged with ensuring the independence of the judiciary. Because the president of the republic controlled appointments to the courts, the judiciary seldom, if ever, opposed the president.

The judicial system bore the imprint of both the French legal and judicial traditions and, to a lesser extent, customary law. It consisted of two levels. The lower courts, all of which were created by presidential decree and exercised limited jurisdiction, included the courts of appeals, the courts of first instance, the courts of assize, and the justice of the peace courts. The five courts of first instance, which handled the bulk of trials, heard misdemeanor and minor criminal cases (with a maximum sentence of three months or less), juvenile cases, and civil cases. The courts consisted of a president, one or more vice-presidents, and one or more examining magistrates and trial judges, all of whom were appointed by the president of the republic. The courts were located in Abidjan, Bouaké, Daloa, Korhogo, and Man. Each had two or more delegated sections in larger towns within their respective jurisdictions. The courts of assize, which were paired with courts of first instance, handled only major criminal cases. At the lowest level were justice of the peace courts, presided over by justices of the peace who handled petty cases in civil, criminal, and customary law. The two courts of appeals, located in Abidjan and Bouaké, heard appeals from courts of first instance and courts of assize. The Abidjan court heard appeals from the Abidjan court of first instance and its delegated sections; the Bouaké court handled referrals from the other four courts of first instance.

The superior courts are mandated by the Constitution and have nationwide jurisdiction. They include the Supreme Court, the High Court of Justice and the State Security Court. The Supreme Court is separated into four sections handling, respectively, constitutionality of laws, administrative appeal, criminal appeal, and financial control of government services. The Constitution directs that the court include one president, three vice-presidents (one for each section except the constitutional), nine associate justices, one secretary general, and four secretaries. The Constitutional Section, which always met in closed session, reviewed laws that had been passed by the National Assembly but not yet promulgated. The section had fifteen days to complete its consideration of a bill. The president of the republic or the president of the assembly could forward requests for a constitutional review. The president of the republic could also submit government bills to the section for a constitutional hearing before they were submitted to the Council of Ministers. The Constitutional Section also supervised referenda as called for in the Constitution and ruled on the eligibility of candidates for the National Assembly. The president of the Supreme Court presided over sessions of the section, which also included the vice-presidents of the court and four persons noted for their juridical and administrative competence. These four could also be members of the court. Two of the four were appointed by the president of the assembly, and two were appointed by the president of the republic. The term of office was four years, and there was no provision for removal from office.

The Judicial Section was the highest court of appeals in criminal cases. The section consisted of one vice-president, four associate justices, and two secretaries. It was organized into civil and criminal divisions with three additional magistrates in each. The Administrative Section handled cases of alleged abuse of administrative power involving individuals in public administration. This section consisted of a vice-president and two associate judges. Unlike the judges in other sections, those in the administrative section were magistrates, but not necessarily members of the bench. Another section of the Supreme Court, the Audit and Control Section, monitored public expenditures and annually audited accounts of the state and its agencies. This section consisted of a vice-president, three associate justices, and one secretary .

The two other superior courts included the High Court of Justice and the State Security Court. The High Court of Justice was composed of members of the National Assembly who were elected to the court every five years, following each general election. The court was empowered to impeach the president of the republic for treason and to judge other members of the government for crimes or misdemeanors committed in the exercise of their official duties. Cases concerning crimes against state security were heard in the State Security Court.

All judges, as well as all employees of the Central Administration of the Ministry of Justice, comprised the professional judiciary. They were required to have obtained a bachelor of law degree and could not concurrently hold an elected office. A Superior Council of the Judiciary was responsible for assisting the president in the task of guaranteeing an independent judiciary. The council advised the president on nominations to the Supreme Court, on cases concerning judicial independence, and on disciplinary problems. It also advised the minister of justice on nominations to magistrate positions. The council's membership included members of the Constitutional Section of the Supreme Court and three magistrates, each appointed to two-year terms by the president from a list prepared by the minister of justice.

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Ivory Coast - Local Government

Ivory Coast

As of 1987, the country was divided into forty-nine prefectures. The prefectural administration, headed by a prefect (préfet), represented executive authority within the prefecture. Constitutionally, the prefects responded to the local interests of their respective constituents and directed and coordinated the administrative services represented in their respective constituencies. As representatives of each ministry within their prefectures, the prefects issued directives to the heads of services and ensured their compliance, presided over all state organizations and commissions within the prefecture, periodically met with service heads at the prefectural level, and acted as trustees for public enterprises and activities in the prefectures. Prefects also were responsible for maintaining public order and security in their respective prefectures. In that capacity, they supervised local police and oversaw the execution of laws, statutes, and executive orders. To deal with civil unrest or other emergencies, they were also empowered to issue binding orders or decrees, detain suspects for up to forty-eight hours, and request assistance from the armed forces.

The prefectural administration included a secretary general, a chief of cabinet, and two division chiefs, one of whom was responsible for administrative and general affairs such as elections, supervision of the police, administration of subprefectures (sous-préfectures), and civil affairs. The other division chief was responsible for economic, financial, and social affairs, including the budget, accounts, public works, health, education, and the supervision of markets and price controls. The secretary general, besides substituting for the prefect during the latter's absence, supervised and coordinated all departmental services. The chief of cabinet, in effect an administrative aide, was responsible for intradepartmental affairs (mail, inspection visits, and liaison with ministerial departments and personnel in Abidjan).

According to enabling legislation passed in 1961, the prefectures were to be decentralized, autonomous units competent to deal with local issues. Governing the prefecture was to be a general council whose members, representing local interests, were to be elected by slates for five-year terms by universal suffrage within the prefecture. The general council was to pass a budget and act on local issues. Its decisions were then to be passed on to the prefect for execution. In reality, as of 1988 the central government in Abidjan had not passed the enabling measures establishing the general councils; hence, the prefectures were exclusively administrative structures.

Every prefecture was segmented into subprefectures, each headed by a subprefect (sous-préfet). Subprefectures were the lowest administrative unit of government and the unit with which most people interacted. Unlike the prefectures, the subprefectures had neither autonomy nor deliberative responsibilities; their function was purely administrative. The subprefects acted under the delegated authority of the prefects but also had other responsibilities. First and foremost, the subprefect was responsible for maintaining public order and could, in emergencies, request aid from the prefect or the armed forces. The subprefect also submitted a public works and civil action program as well as a budget to the prefect. As an officer of the state, the subprefect supervised the census and elections within the subprefecture and officiated at civil ceremonies. He also monitored, albeit loosely, the behavior of chiefs of villages and cantons within the boundaries of the subprefecture and represented the authority of the central government to local populations. Finally, the subprefect elicited from notables living within the subprefecture a list of grievances or suggestions that was passed on to the prefect.

Administration at the subprefecture level included a secretariat consisting of the various administrative services and divisions in the subprefecture. Assisting the subprefect was the Subprefectural Council, which replaced the council of notables, an artifact of the colonial era. This council was composed of the subprefect, the heads of public services represented in the subprefecture, local party officials, and twelve to sixteen private citizens, all residing in the subprefecture and known for their active participation in affairs pertaining to politics, commerce, and social change. The councils met twice yearly in open sessions under the direction of the subprefect. The council's responsibilities were solely consultative. At the first meeting of the year, the subprefect was obligated to present to the council the budget and accounts of the past year. By law the council had to be consulted on expenditures allocated to the subprefecture by the government or collected in the form of market, parking, or other fees. The council also submitted a program of public works or other public projects of local interest to be financed with the allocated funds.

The council had no decision-making authority and no direct political role. However, its opinions carried some weight. The citizen-members represented wealth and influence that often transcended the physical boundaries of the subprefecture. These citizens often understood the needs and customs of the local community better than the subprefect, who in most instances was not from the region.

Modern and traditional governance merged at the level of village and canton. Using criteria based on traditions, villages selected their own leaders, who were subsequently proposed to and formally invested by the prefect. The ceremony granted formal legitimacy to the village leader while at the same time confirming his status as subordinate to the subprefect. In the formal bureaucratic sector, village chiefs served simply as conduits between the subprefect and the villagers. Informally, village chiefs filled a multitude of roles, many of which paralleled the obligations and responsibilities of the modern bureaucratic administration. Under the colonial regime, groups of villages linked by common ethnicity and encompassing a relatively large area were designated a canton; this designation continued into the modern period. Canton chiefs, whose authority was also rooted in tradition, were selected according to traditional norms and formally appointed by the minister of interior. Because their responsibilities in the formal sector were never resolved, the canton chiefs remained largely symbolic figures.

By the 1980s, thirty-seven cities had been designated autonomous communities (communes en plein exercice), a legal status that dates from 1884 and applied originally to the Senegalese cities of Saint Louis and Dakar. Governing structures in autonomous communities included a municipal council and a mayor. A council would be composed of eleven to thirty-seven members, depending on the population of the city. All were elected by universal suffrage and, until 1980, as part of a slate. In the 1985 elections, council members ran independently. The legal status of the municipal councils was ambiguous. According to law, they enjoyed broad powers which were to be exercised independently of the granting authority in Abidjan. For example, the enabling legislation of 1955 instructed the councils, through their deliberative processes, to "direct the affairs of the community," which included voting on budgets. In fact, most of the decisions taken by councils first had to be approved by the minister of interior, who could veto them. Moreover, the Council of Ministers could dissolve an excessively independent municipal council by a simple decree. Consequently, the council members routinely accepted guidelines proposed by authorities in Abidjan.

The councils also elected mayors, whose functions were identical to those of subprefects. Like the municipal councils, mayors routinely submitted to the authority of the minister of interior.

In practice, municipal administration was not an outgrowth of a preexisting social and political institution. The label "autonomous communities" was, instead, the creation of a state bureaucracy that was not inclined toward sharing power. Consequently, from 1956 until the late 1970s, councils shrank in size and importance as council members died. For example, the Abidjan council, which at one point consisted of thirty-seven members, had only seventeen in 1974. As the central government loosened its grip on politics prior to the 1985 elections, potential candidates saw the position of municipal council member as a first step toward higher political office, and interest in the institution grew. In the 1985 election, more than 840 candidates ran for 235 places on municipal councils.

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Ivory Coast - The Party

Ivory Coast

The trappings of political power were concentrated in a single party, the PDCI, to which all adult citizens were required to belong. The principal goal of the party was stability, and compared with parties in other sub-Saharan states, it had achieved its objective. By and large, political conflict took place within constitutional bounds. To continue that tradition in the 1980s, the government expanded political participation and discouraged political--and especially ideological--competition. The party embraced what it defined as centrist policies, and although Ivoirian citizens did not enjoy democratic freedoms in the Western tradition, foreign observers considered Ivoirian society among the freest in Africa.

Party membership was synonymous with citizenship. At its inception and during the late stages of colonial rule, the party was a broad coalition, less nationalist than nativist, and calling itself populist, consultative, and representative. At that time, the PDCI enjoyed considerable grass-roots support, especially on issues pertaining to forced labor and the indigénat. After independence, however, the party came under increasingly tight presidential control. Instead of political mobilization, the government demanded of the citizenry what Philippe Yacé called "active acquiescence." The party leaders closest to the president, almost all of whom had been plantation owners, wielded great power in their home (ethnic) constituencies, where they were able to influence the distribution of patronage in the form of public and party offices, contracts, public works, and other benefits. This enabled them to increase their own wealth and further secure their positions in the political system. Over time, patronage supplanted political organization, and many local PDCI committees in rural areas withered.

In the 1980s, with the anticolonialist struggles long over and the era of Houphouët-Boigny and his fellow political militants waning, the party continued to lose its vitality. The party's dated preoccupation with unity deflected attention from the pressing issues in Côte d'Ivoire. Economic development demanded greater technological sophistication and gave rise to conflicts pitting cities against the rural periphery and young against old. Incrementally, technocrats and developmentalists with modern Western values replaced party militants in the government bureaucracy. The new elite did not challenge the militants, who continued to dole out party offices, nor did they insist that the government become more democratic or less authoritarian. The new elite simply had different concerns: government rather than the party and bureaucratic rationality rather than party mobilization.

Without the infusion of competing ideas, the party atrophied as a creative political force. To be sure, the governing elite remained members of the party; however, as the state became more complex and bureaucratized, the distinction between party and state blurred. The government and not the party assumed responsibility for national integration. By the late 1980s, the party served primarily as a sinecure for old party stalwarts, and the PDCI administration became a vehicle for self-advancement and the protection of narrow interests. That situation was not entirely true in the case of party activities at village levels where, reversing an earlier trend, the position of party secretary (the local party representative) became an openly contested electoral office. Increasingly, political neophytes viewed the office as an initial step to higher office, and so they invested resources in campaigns and tried to fulfill their campaign obligations.

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Ivory Coast - Party Organization

Ivory Coast

In the late 1980s, power lay in the Political Bureau and Committee Directorate. Like the National Assembly, both were expanded in the mid-1980s in an attempt to broaden the PDCI's representation among educated people between the ages of thirtyfive and forty-five. The Political Bureau was expanded from 35 to 58 members, and the Committee Directorate grew from 100 to 208.

The members of the Political Bureau included the cabinet ministers, plus other members of the political, military, and business elite. Heading the Political Bureau was a thirteen-member Executive Committee, which in 1980 replaced the party secretary general at the apex of the party. (The transition from a single leader to a committee in fact appeared to constitute a calculated rebuff to Philippe Yacé, who was PDCI secretary general at the time.) By the mid-1980s, the Executive Committee was composed exclusively of younger cabinet ministers, thereby excluding many long-time political allies of the president.

Major policy decisions affecting the party and state originated in the Political Bureau. (The Political Bureau would probably be responsible for nominating a successor should the president, as seemed to be the case in 1988, decline to do so prior to leaving office.) Political divisions and alliances within the Political Bureau thus assumed great importance. The most apparent division was a generational one pitting old party stalwarts such as Mathieu Ekra, Auguste Denise, Camille Alliali, and Philippe Yacé against ambitious young technocrats such as Henri Konan Bedié, Jean Jacques Bechio, Balla Keita, and Alphonse Djedje Mady. Within the second group were equally significant divisions between the aforementioned Young Turks and other well-educated specialists such as Laurent Dona Fologo and Donwahi Charles, who were known as team players.

The Committee Directorate represented a further attempt to incorporate--some would say co-opt--larger segments of the population, especially potential foci of opposition, into the political process. Another purpose of the directorate was to invigorate the party by expanding its representation. Accordingly, the Committee Directorate included members of the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of the government, current and former military officers, leaders of government-backed unions, women, business leaders, and members of the professions, including university professors. It functioned by advising the president through a series of ad hoc committees addressing particular issues.

In the smaller cities, towns, and villages, the party official with whom most Ivoirians dealt was the local secretary general. As their principal task, all secretaries general sold party membership cards, the revenues from which funded local political operations. In larger constituencies, the secretary general served as a spokesperson and propagandist for the government by placing the symbols and slogans of governance before the voting public. In rural constituencies, the local secretary general settled disputes generally involving land tenure and land use.

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Ivory Coast - Orientation Toward the Political System

Ivory Coast

Starting with independence, the Ivoirian polity experienced an unusual reorientation of political and moral values not found elsewhere in most of sub-Saharan Africa. Strong economic growth (at least through the mid-1970s) and relatively high rates of urbanization and literacy, in combination with a pervasive media, have exposed the polity to Western cultural values and the politics of consumption. In few other countries was materialism as open and avowed an ideology as in Côte d'Ivoire. Consequently, the salient divisions in the Ivoirian polity were economic rather than ethnic or religious. Stratification by class was congruent with the fundamental difference between rulers and ruled. In many instances, class differences also coincided with ethnic divisions, which tended to exaggerate the importance of ethnicity while permitting some observers to diminish the importance of class membership. This was no new phenomenon--the same stratification characterized most precolonial societies in Côte d'Ivoire. Nevertheless, the expanded opportunities for material consumption and the manifest extremes of wealth and poverty that subsequently emerged were new. Members of the elite translated the struggle for independence into a quest for privilege. They insisted that the interests of all Ivoirians were in harmony, a supposition that allowed them to rationalize the use of public policy on their behalf. For their part, the have-nots not only envied the elite for its material attainments but also knew how the elite, using the political system, attained them. So while rich and poor--the rulers and the ruled--nurtured vastly different expectations of the political system, they shared a clear understanding of its ultimate purpose.

Historically, the political elite included the wealthiest 10 percent of the plantation owners. By the late 1980s, however, with the bureaucratization of the state, the nature of the elite had changed markedly. Most often its members were high-level bureaucrats and party officials. Simultaneously, and as a direct consequence of their political connections, many held directorships in locally based corporations or were minority shareholders in multinational corporations. Characteristically, the businesses in which members of the elite invested required relatively small investments in comparison with anticipated returns. That situation was especially common in real estate, where investors typically sought a full return on investment within three years. Another industry favored by the elite was transportation. Finally, some members of the elite invested in agriculture, exporting bananas and pineapples, the prices of which, unlike the prices of coffee and cocoa, were not regulated by the government.

Significantly, the elite was not a true entrepreneurial class; that is, its members did not save and invest capital. Rather, they created a favorable environment for schemes initiated by foreigners and subsequently mediated (for a fee) between bureaucracy, business, and politicians. Instead of investing, the elite consumed. Its members sent their offspring to France for at least part of their education. They became accustomed to imported food, clothing, and high-technology consumer goods. Perhaps most important, the elite nurtured--and in turn sought--legitimacy in an ethos that openly elevated materialism to the level of political and moral ideology. According to one observer, the elite became, in effect, a class that could not afford to lose power.

To sustain its position of privilege, the elite formulated a political strategy based on limited participation and the politics of co-optation to vent the pressures linked to rapid change. Thus, with independence the government banned any opposition political parties or voices, incorporated nearly all unions into the party, and handpicked National Assembly candidates who then ran on a slate presented to voters who either cast a "yea" ballot or did not vote. Even after the government permitted contested elections for the assembly, the party, acting as surrogate for the government, passed on the acceptability of all candidates. Similarly, the indigenous private sector was unable to compete with the vast resources that the elite-dominated public sector could marshall and effectively was excluded from participating in economic transformation.

Appreciative of the importance of political stability, the government ostensibly compromised by permitting small changes for the sake of order. Nevertheless, none of the demands for change, which in the past may have included pay raises, better working conditions, scholarship aid, or improved relations between groups, required a substantial change in governing institutions or procedures, and they were generally co-opted by Houphouët-Boigny's expressions of concern and the appointment of a commission to study the problem. Finally, the government bought compliance from its more articulate and therefore more serious critics by offering them resources such as land, licenses, forestry rights, or positions in the party and government.

Counterpoised to the modern elite were the peasantry, students, middle- and lower-level civil servants, and a growing urban underclass. Because of explicit public policy decisions, few members of that group benefited directly from Côte d'Ivoire's vaunted economic growth. This group was no less politicized than the elite, but it lacked avenues of expression. Accordingly, this underclass responded to restrictions either by refusing to participate in the political process or by challenging public policy. Nonparticipation was generally a rural phenomenon, and in some areas less than 40 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 1985 elections, in which Houphouët-Boigny boasted of having received more than 99 percent of the vote. Challenges to public policy took the form of riots against unemployment, student protests, and demonstrations against high prices, shrinking subsidies, land confiscation, foreigners, and high taxes. The government customarily responded to conflict with force followed by a demand for loyalty to the ruling regime. Groups demonstrating their political support received benefits in the form of clinics, schools, investment in infrastructure, markets, and other public facilities. Conversely, those withholding support were simply denied any resources for economic development.

Ivory Coast


Ivory Coast

Political Issues

The party-government in the mid-1980s most closely resembled an old-fashioned political machine. Although it called itself a one-party democracy, Côte d'Ivoire was not a political democracy in the Western sense. There was no institutionalized opposition, although by the 1980s National Assembly elections were being contested. As under the French, civil liberties remained limited. Although Côte d'Ivoire appeared to be a country of laws, those laws were tailored to suit a set of rulers who could easily alter the laws at their discretion.

By the end of the 1980s, the Ivoirian political system was facing serious problems. Because the structure, form, tone, and policies of the government were the personal creations of the president, who was said to be in his late eighties, the succession question had substantial implications. Moreover, no candidate enjoyed the charisma or stature of Houphouët-Boigny. In 1988 rivals seeking to succeed Houphouët-Boigny barely maintained any pretense of unity. No plausible candidate--with the possible exception of Yacé--had the experience or preparation necessary to assume the office.

By the late 1980s, two decades of rapid economic growth followed by serious economic setbacks had transformed social mores and altered civil society. Students and teachers were protesting the continuing control of government by a small number of party leaders for the benefit of a privileged class of landowners and bureaucrats. Corruption in the business community was becoming embarrassingly obvious, particularly among textile importers. Uncontrolled urbanization had weakened family ties and had prompted sharp increases in unemployment, underemployment, drug use, and violent crime. On a different plane, economic austerity had abruptly curtailed the rising expectations of the middle class and pitted ethnic groups against one another in the competition for scarce resources.

Economic austerity also exacerbated tensions between Ivoirians and resident foreign nationals. Students and members of the political elite expressed resentment over the continuing presence of French nationals in important government positions. Ivoirian wage laborers resented competition from immigrants from Côte d'Ivoire's poorer neighbors. Dramatic increases in violent crime were attributed to Ghanaians and business corruption to the Lebanese.

Perhaps more important, the governing institutions created by Houphouët-Boigny to mediate conflict were weak and unresponsive. That was especially true of the state-owned media, which carefully managed information by releasing only what it deemed harmless. Consequently, rumors often passed for news on the streets of Abidjan.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - Single-Party Democracy

Ivory Coast

Since independence, Ivoirian leaders had insisted that the PDCI have no opposition, although Article 7 of the Ivoirian Constitution specifically guarantees freedom of expression to "parties and political groups" as long as they respect the principles of "democracy and national sovereignty." At one time, some political leaders had argued for a legal--but constrained--opposition to generate enthusiasm for elections and to vent political pressures that might otherwise threaten the position of the governing elite. A recognized opposition, it was argued, would also provide Côte d'Ivoire with some of the forms--as opposed to the pretenses already in place--of democracy. However, the ruling elite and even some dissidents continued to believe that a single-party system was best for a developing country like Côte d'Ivoire, where class and regional cleavages threatened unity.

Houphouët-Boigny himself had always considered forging a national constituency out of Côte d'Ivoire's more than sixty ethnic groups to be his greatest responsibility if his economic agenda was to be achieved. If unchecked, he said, rivalry between ethnic groups or geographical regions would erode nationalism and dissipate valuable resources that would be better spent on economic development. Left unstated was the concern that this rivalry also would threaten the ruling elite's control over crucial aspects of political life. National unity therefore came to mean party unity. There was room for opposition, Houphouët-Boigny insisted, but only within the party. Thus, in the early years of independence Houphouët-Boigny promulgated laws that severely sanctioned individuals who published, disseminated, divulged, or reproduced false news or documents that, in good or bad faith, "undermined" the morale of the population, discredited political institutions, or led others to disobey laws. With virtually all avenues for criticism closed, platitudes replaced political debate.

Although generally successful at co-opting political foes, Houphouët-Boigny was not averse to bullying his opponents when he felt they threatened stability. He stated on several occasions that if forced to choose between disorder and injustice, he would not hesitate to choose injustice. He added that "When there is disorder, the lives of people and a regime are at stake, but an injustice can always be corrected." Nonetheless, he resorted to force only rarely. Côte d'Ivoire had no preventive detention laws and, by its own definition, no political prisoners, although the army, under instructions from Houphouët-Boigny, commonly conscripted political foes into the military for what he called "judicious training."

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - Labor

Ivory Coast

In the 1980s, approximately 100,000 full-time workers in the regulated sectors belonged to trade unions. Union membership was highest among white-collar workers, professionals, civil servants, and teachers. All unions except the National Union of Secondary School Teachers of Côte d'Ivoire (Syndicat National des Enseignants du Secondaire de Côte d'Ivoire--SYNESCI) were part of a government-controlled federation, the General Federation of Ivoirian Workers (Union Générale des Travailleurs de Côte d'Ivoire- -UGTCI), which counted approximately 190 affiliates. Its secretary general from its founding until 1984 was Joseph Coffie, a veteran of the PDCI and trusted companion of President Houphouët-Boigny. In 1988 the secretary general was Hyacinthe Adiko Niamkey.

From its inception, the UGTCI saw itself as a participant in development rather than a combatant on behalf of labor. In that role, the UGTCI supported government efforts to promote unity and development, justifying its stance as helping to continue the struggle for independence. The UGTCI did not object to the state's development policies, and its leaders participated in government policy debates, thereby becoming, in effect, instruments of economic development.

Not surprisingly, the UGTCI exercised little political or economic clout. Strikes were legal, but principals first had to complete a lengthy process of negotiation, during which any work stoppage was illegal. Moreover, demands on its members by UGTCI leadership seeking more efficient production counted more than workers' complaints. At the same time, the UGTCI exercised a modicum of autonomy in protests over wages and the pace of Ivoirianization. In response, the guaranteed urban minimum wage had been raised several times since the mid-1970s. However, wages were not keeping pace with inflation.

Wildcat strikes or other unsanctioned job actions were not much more productive. In dealing with job actions, the government first exploited the media to gain sympathy for its position and then confronted strike leaders with overwhelming force. Usually the government softened its position by rehiring most of the workers previously dismissed and by compromising on peripheral matters. Underlying problems remained unresolved or were settled in accordance with government intentions. In 1985, after 16,892 parastatal workers, many of whom were highly paid professionals, staged a job action to protest deep wage cuts, the government threatened to fire all workers who refused to honor the government's deadline and to replace them with unemployed university graduates. Eventually the government fired 342 holdouts. At other times, the government dissolved the refractory union, thus depriving any strike of legitimacy and the union of any recourse.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - Military

Ivory Coast

The Ivoirian armed forces consisted of three services, all small and lightly equipped. With the exception of military training exercises and a small, regional revolt in 1970, as of mid1988 the military had remained in its barracks. It played no role in domestic peacekeeping, in the drive for modernization, or in mobilizing the population. Unlike its counterpart in neighboring states, the Ivoirian officer corps viewed itself as a distinct profession under civilian control. The presence of a French battalion based near Port Bouët reinforced the importance of maintaining professional norms of service. Moreover, HouphouëtBoigny kept military salaries attractive and named officers to high positions in the PDCI, in effect assimilating the military elite. Greater contact between the civilian elite and military officers led to social integration and completed the co-optation of the military. With a solid stake in the "Ivoirian miracle," the senior officer corps had little interest in altering the status quo. With the passage of time, psychological inertia further institutionalized civilian control, and the civil bureaucracy gained experience, expertise, and confidence.

Many events had the potential to precipitate future military intervention in domestic politics. These would include a stalemate in the Political Bureau of the PDCI over a successor to HouphouëtBoigny , the emergence of an incompetent administration, extreme economic austerity coupled with a declining franc, and widespread unrest led or supported by students, unions, or the urban unemployed. As an institution with an untainted past, the military could, in any of these cases, be called upon to lead a movement promising a return to stability and greater access to economic resources for less favored groups. Nevertheless, given the broadening base of the party, the politics of co-optation, the as yet inchoate class struggle, and the division of peacekeeping responsibility among the Sûreté Nationale and the armed forces, most observers agreed that government control over the military would probably continue.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - The French

Ivory Coast

Côte d'Ivoire's ties to France had grown stronger since independence in 1960. Although the number of French advisers continued to shrink, between 1960 and 1980 the total French population in Côte d'Ivoire nearly doubled, from about 30,000 to close to 60,000, forming the largest French expatriate community. By 1988, as Côte d'Ivoire's economy continued to contract, about half of the French either returned to France or moved elsewhere in Africa. In the mid-1980s, four out of five resident French had lived in Côte d'Ivoire for more than five years. French citizens filled technical and advisory positions in the government, albeit in diminishing numbers, but were also evident throughout the private sector. Until 1985 Côte d'Ivoire also had the highest number of teaching and nonteaching French coopérants in Africa, the highest number of students in French universities, the highest number of French multinationals in all of Africa, the largest percentage of French imports and exports in Africa, the highest number of nonroutine French diplomatic visitors of all African countries, and, with Senegal, was the recipient of the largest French aid package in Africa. Côte d'Ivoire also hosted the highest average number of visits by the French head of state per year.

On a formal level, a series of agreements and treaties have ensured the continuation and extension of French influence in diplomatic, military, legal, commercial, monetary, political, and cultural affairs, although most of these agreements were modified over the years to accommodate the sensitivities and growing political sophistication of Ivoirians. Perhaps most significant for the future were joint defense treaties and the permanent basing of the French marine battalion at Port Bouët. Although it had never interceded in Ivoirian politics, the battalion's presence provided an implicit warning against political or military action that might create instability and jeopardize French interests. The colonial heritage and contemporary realities suggested that France would remain Côte d'Ivoire's principal commercial partner, albeit in increasing competition with other states.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - The Levantine Community

Ivory Coast

In the late 1980s, reportedly 60,000 to 120,000 Lebanese and Syrians lived in Côte d'Ivoire, although some observers gave a figure as high as 300,000. Many descended from families that had been established in Côte d'Ivoire for more than a century. Along with the French, they were the most easily identifiable foreign group. They generally resided in enclaves, married within their community, and resisted integration. At the same time, many held Ivoirian citizenship. Although they were concentrated in Abidjan, there was a Lebanese or Syrian family or two in virtually every community of more than 5,000 people. Some members of the Levantine community were Christian; of the Muslims, most were Shia. Significantly, the waves of Lebanese émigrés who arrived in Côte d'Ivoire after the Lebanese civil war began in 1975 brought with them the same political beliefs that divided groups in Lebanon. As of the mid-1980s, violence among Lebanese had not erupted in Côte d'Ivoire; nevertheless, the government considered sectarian violence a distinct possibility.

The Arab community was known for its entrepreneurial skills and had long played a leading role in certain intermediate sectors of the economy, especially commerce. The Arabs dominated in areas such as textiles, shoes, petroleum distribution, and coffee and cocoa brokering. The Lebanese had also invested heavily in urban real estate and were among the first to develop hotels and restaurants in previously less accessible areas of the interior. For the most part, Houphouët-Boigny ardently defended the presence of the Lebanese community, citing its contributions to the Ivoirian economy. The Lebanese community, in turn, sought to assure the Ivoirian leadership of its loyalty and its commitment to national goals by public declarations and by charitable contributions in support of cultural and sporting events.

The jump in the Levantine population since 1975, coupled with its growing domination of commerce, made it a target of increasing protest. In the mid-1980s, Houphouët-Boigny began issuing warnings to merchants--unmistakably Lebanese--who were allegedly guilty of customs fraud and monopolistic practices. Thus, the unconditional welcome that the Lebanese community had enjoyed appeared to be wearing out.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - Students and Intellectuals

Ivory Coast

Student radicalism has had a long history in francophone Africa. It originated in post-World War II France, where most students from the colonies studied. Students favored independence long before Houphouët-Boigny and the PDCI lobbied for it, and neither the president nor the party escaped student criticism. In 1988 students were generally concerned with scholarships, student aid, and housing, although they were also the most outspoken group in the nation on the issues of succession, Ivoirianization, and one-party democracy.

The PDCI sought to control student dissent by co-optation or outright repression. It placed the Movement of Primary and Secondary School Students of Côte d'Ivoire (Mouvement des Etudiants et Elèves de Côte d'Ivoire--MEECI), the official student organization, under the umbrella of the PDCI, and, when necessary, the government impressed student leaders into the army. Typically, however, the government followed repression with clemency, and then sought to co-opt student leaders. In 1988 four former MEECI presidents were members of the PDCI Executive Committee.

In the 1980s, Laurent Gbagbo gained recognition as the intellectual leader of an incipient movement seeking a more open political system. A historian living in exile, Gbagbo was Côte d'Ivoire's most well known opposition figure. In two books, which were banned in Côte d'Ivoire, Gbagbo attacked the PDCI regime as conspiratorial, opportunistic, and corrupt. He was involved in disturbances at the National University of Côte d'Ivoire (formerly the University of Abidjan) in 1982, after which he fled to Paris. There he founded an opposition party, the Ivoirian People's Front (Front Populaire Ivoirian--FPI), which called for a multiparty democracy. Although the FPI had no formal membership, it gained a small following in Abidjan among students, intellectuals, civil servants, and some unions.

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Ivory Coast

Houphouët-Boigny treated foreign policy as his personal domain. Following independence, his long-term foreign policy objective had been to enhance economic development and political stability in Côte d'Ivoire. That objective was manifested in foreign policies that sought, first, to maintain an organic relationship with France, Côte d'Ivoire's principal and most consistent donor and, second, to control the regional environment in order to guarantee access to cheap labor from Mali and Burkina Faso.

Although Côte d'Ivoire eschewed close links with the Soviet Union and its allies, Ivoirian policymakers were nominally disposed toward treating all foreign powers equally. One former minister of foreign affairs insisted that Côte d'Ivoire was the foe of no ideology or any regime. Nevertheless, Côte d'Ivoire had no diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union from 1969, when relations with Moscow were severed, until February 1986. Only a month earlier, the cabinet had approved a measure to reestablish ties with Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Albania, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and the People's Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea). Relations with Romania and Poland had already been re-established several years earlier.

Closer to its borders, Côte d'Ivoire alternatively befriended or attempted to isolate the rulers of the five states that surrounded it: Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. Recognizing that "the oasis never encroaches upon the desert," Houphouët-Boigny sought to cultivate mutually beneficial ties with these five states, while allowing economic and political differences to persist. Military leaders in the neighboring states allowed their nationals to enter the Ivoirian labor pool, which eased a serious unemployment problem in their respective countries. Through the Council of the Entente (Conseil de l'Entente), in which Côte d'Ivoire is by far the dominant power and largest contributor, the Ivoirians aided Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, and Togo. Houphouët-Boigny also scored a diplomatic triumph in 1985 when he brokered a peace agreement ending the border conflict between Burkina Faso and Mali. Houphouët-Boigny also facilitated Guinea's return to the franc zone.

<>Council of the Entente
<>Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali
<>Other African States
<>United States
<>Soviet Union and China

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - Council of the Entente

Ivory Coast

The Council of the Entente was established on May 29, 1959, by the heads of state of Côte d'Ivoire, Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso), Dahomey (present-day Benin), and Niger. (Togo became a member in 1966.) Ostensibly, the Council of the Entente coordinated the regulations and statutes of member states governing finance, justice, labor, public service, health, and communications. The Council of the Entente also initiated steps toward forming a customs union, integrating development plans and creating a development fund, the Solidarity Fund (later known as the Loan Guaranty Fund). Each member state was to contribute 10 percent of government revenues to the fund. Côte d'Ivoire, the leader of the Council of the Entente and by far the wealthiest member state, was to receive only a small portion of the redistributed funds; other members were entitled to larger shares. In fact, by 1988 Côte d'Ivoire had never touched its share.

The Council of the Entente helped Houphouët-Boigny achieve his long-term regional foreign policy objectives. First, by allying himself with three desperately poor countries that could be expected to maintain close ties with France for years to come, he built a broader base to counter Senegal's attempts to isolate Côte d'Ivoire and reestablish some sort of federation of West African francophone states that would presumably be centered at Dakar. The demise of the Mali Federation in 1960 appeared to vindicate Houphouët-Boigny's strategy. He subsequently enlisted the Council of the Entente states to isolate the government of Ghana, which had supported a massive antigovernment protest in the Sanwi area of Côte d'Ivoire and was linked to a plot to overthrow Niger's President Hamani Diori. After Ghana's President Kwame Nkrumah was ousted in a 1966 coup, Houphouët-Boigny sought diplomatic support from the Council of the Entente states in his feud with President Ahmed Sekou Touré of Guinea. Sekou Touré routinely accused Houphouët-Boigny of harboring Guinean exiles; he also threatened to send troops across Côte d'Ivoire to Ghana to restore Nkrumah, by then a refugee in Guinea, to power.

By the mid-1980s, populist and nationalist sentiments surging within the Council of the Entente member states threatened Côte d'Ivoire's staid leadership of the alliance. Togo, which was surrounded by radical states, remained a staunch ally; however, Burkina Faso and Benin increasingly criticized Houphouët-Boigny's conservativism and strengthened their ties with Libya and Ghana. As a result, the Council of the Entente's value as an instrument of Ivoirian foreign policy diminished.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali

Ivory Coast

The tone of Ivoirian-Ghanaian relations had varied widely since independence. Côte d'Ivoire regarded the government of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, who overthrew a civilian regime in 1983, with a mixture of disdain, contempt, and wariness. Relations with Ghana declined in the mid-1980s after Rawlings and Burkina Faso's leader Thomas Sankara appeared to ally themselves with Libyan leader Muammar al Qadhaafi. In November 1987, Ghana condemned Côte d'Ivoire for granting landing rights to South African military and commercial aircraft, championing the Zionist cause in Africa, undermining Organization of African Unity (OAU) resolutions, isolating Burkina Faso in West African councils, and permitting Abidjan to become a haven for hostile South African, Israeli, and Western intelligence services. At the same time, the two states worked together harmoniously to end smuggling in both directions across their common border.

Relations with Burkina Faso, a traditional source of agricultural labor, were historically cordial, but they degenerated sharply in the wake of the coup that brought Thomas Sankara to power in August 1983. Sankara soon made common cause with the Rawlings government in Ghana, further raising suspicions in Abidjan. Following Libyan deliveries of military equipment to Burkina Faso, Ivoirian authorities investigated alleged arms trafficking between Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire.

Tensions between Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso increased sharply in early 1985 following the alleged mistreatment of Burkinabé immigrants in Côte d'Ivoire and the assassination of a prominent Burkinabé businessman in Abidjan. In September 1985, hours before Sankara was to arrive in Côte d'Ivoire for a Council of the Entente summit meeting, a bomb exploded in a hotel room he was to occupy. Sankara blamed forces in Côte d'Ivoire, although no one claimed responsibility and no one was arrested. In defiance of other Council of the Entente members, Sankara refused to sign the summit communiqué, rejected the expansion of the Entente charter to include security cooperation, indirectly accused Côte d'Ivoire and Togo of victimizing resident Burkinabé and sheltering opponents to his regime, and called for the creation of an internationalist and populist "Revolutionary Entente Council." Two years later, in October 1987, Sankara was killed during a coup led by his second in command, Captain Blaise Compaoré. Compaoré immediately reassured Côte d'Ivoire that he wanted warmer relations and later pledged to strengthen ties with the Council of the Entente countries. For its part, Côte d'Ivoire reaffirmed its "readiness to engage in trustworthy, brotherly, and lasting cooperation with this neighboring and brotherly country."

Following Guinea's abrupt break with and estrangement from France in 1958, Sekou Touré adopted a socialist domestic policy, supported Nkrumah's pan-African ideology, and sought close relations with communist, socialist, and radical Third World states. Not unexpectedly, ties with Abidjan became strained. Following Sekou Touré's death in 1984 and the advent of a moderate, reformist military regime in Conakry, Ivoirian relations with Guinea improved considerably.

Ivoirian relations with Mali and Liberia, although far from warm, were decidedly less confrontational than those with Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. Abidjan and Bamako maintained a relatively stable relationship that varied between cordial and correct, despite Mali's flirtations with Marxism in the 1960s and 1970s. Likewise, the peculiar conservatism of the Liberian regimes both before and after the April 1980 coup posed no inherent threat to Côte d'Ivoire. However, the unexpected and shockingly bloody Liberian coup greatly alarmed Abidjan and prompted fears of a coup plot in Côte d'Ivoire.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - Other African States

Ivory Coast

Côte d'Ivoire maintained diplomatic relations with all the states of West Africa and nearly all francophone countries on the continent. It supported--and was most strongly supported by--the most conservative of African francophone countries, such as Zaire, Gabon, and Niger. Nigeria, which had vast oil deposits and the largest population in Africa, presented a special challenge to Ivoirian leaders, who feared the radical Marxism and militant Islam that stirred different segments of the Nigerian polity. Consequently, in the late 1960s and early 1970s Houphouët-Boigny adopted policies intended to weaken Nigeria. Côte d'Ivoire supported Biafra in the Nigerian Civil War (1966-70), and in 1973, with its francophone neighbors, organized the Economic Community of West Africa (Communauté Economique de l'Afrique Occidentale--CEAO) to counter the Nigerian-led Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Côte d'Ivoire's policy toward South Africa contrasted sharply with the antiapartheid stance common across the continent. In keeping with his antirevolutionary fervor, Houphouët-Boigny insisted that opening a dialogue with South Africa was far more effective than posturing and calls for sanctions. In 1970 he sponsored an exchange of visits at the ministerial level. Although trade with South Africa was officially banned in Côte d'Ivoire, some South African produce was freely available in Ivoirian markets. In late 1987, Côte d'Ivoire further distanced itself from its African counterparts by granting South African Airways landing rights for flights between Johannesburg and Europe. Again, Houphouët-Boigny justified the decision as a positive effort to pressure South Africa.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - France

Ivory Coast

Time and again, the president has reminded fellow Ivoirians that their closest and best friend was France and that France made daily sacrifices for Côte d'Ivoire by offering protected markets and military assistance. He insisted that France maintained troops near Abidjan as a favor to ensure Côte d'Ivoire's security without impinging on its larger development plans.

A treaty of cooperation (the Franco-Ivoirian Technical Military Assistance Accord--Accord d'Assistance Militaire Technique) signed on April 24, 1961, outlined the salient aspects of Franco-Ivoirian ties. It provided for the exchange of ambassadors between the two countries, named the French ambassador to Abidjan the dean of the diplomatic corps, and reserved a "privileged position" among diplomats in Paris for the Ivoirian ambassador. The treaty also called for regular consultations between the two countries on foreign policy matters. France agreed to protect and represent Ivoirian interests in any country or international organization where there was no Ivoirian representation. Additional cooperation agreements signed at the same time covered economic matters, education, civil aviation, judicial affairs, telecommunications, and technical and military assistance.

The French government agreed to continue providing aid to Côte d'Ivoire for a period of five years, with a provision for five-year extensions. By encouraging such long-range commitments, the agreement enhanced French economic influence in Côte d'Ivoire.

Concomitantly, Houphouët-Boigny began implementing policies that diverged albeit in several minor respects from French policy. In 1972 he had Côte d'Ivoire vote against admitting China to the United Nations, and until 1985, in contradistinction to France, he labeled China and the Soviet Union as threats to Africa. In the Middle East, Côte d'Ivoire had been a staunch supporter of Israel since 1967, although during much of this time France regularly took positions more favorable to the Arabs.

Houphouët-Boigny's reliance on French private investment and government loans, coupled with his devotion to French culture, determined his stand on virtually every foreign policy issue. In the early 1960s, for example, he urged negotiations to resolve the Algerian Revolution and, unlike many of his African counterparts, refused to condemn France as the responsible party and refused to provide Algeria with any material assistance. Meanwhile, HouphouëtBoigny also supported French nuclear testing in the Sahara. Houphouët-Boigny also defended French military intervention in Africa.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - United States

Ivory Coast

Relations between Washington and Abidjan were cordial if less intimate than the ties with Paris. Through the mid-1980s, Côte d'Ivoire was Africa's most loyal supporter of the United States in the United Nations General Assembly. It supported the larger United States agenda on Chad, the Western Sahara, southern Africa, and Israel. The government strongly approved of moves by the United States against Libyan head of state Qadhaafi, especially in light of rumors that Libyans in Burkina Faso were recruiting and training agents to infiltrate Côte d'Ivoire. United States secretary of state George Schultz visited Abidjan in 1986 following HouphouëtBoigny 's visit to Washington in 1983.

The United States continued to be Côte d'Ivoire's leading trading partner after France. Foreign policymakers in Washington continued to point to Côte d'Ivoire as an exemplar of successful capitalism, even as Côte d'Ivoire's debt mounted out of control. While enjoying a favorable image in the United States, HouphouëtBoigny has indirectly criticized the United States by attacking the system of international trade, which the United States supported unequivocally, but which Houphouët-Boigny claimed was responsible for his country's economic ills.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - Soviet Union and China

Ivory Coast

Since independence, Houphouët-Boigny has considered the Soviet Union and China malevolent influences throughout the Third World. Côte d'Ivoire did not establish diplomatic relations with Moscow until 1967, and then severed them in 1969 following allegations of direct Soviet support for a 1968 student protest at the National University of Côte d'Ivoire. The two countries did not restore ties until February 1986, by which time Houphouët-Boigny had embraced a more active foreign policy reflecting a more pragmatic view of the Soviet Union and his quest for greater international recognition.

Houphouët-Boigny was even more outspoken in his criticism of China. He voiced fears of an "invasion" by the Chinese and their subsequent colonization of Africa. He was especially concerned that Africans would see the problems of development in China as analogous to those of Africa, and China's solutions as appropriate to sub-Saharan Africa. Accordingly, Côte d'Ivoire did not normalize relations with China until 1983, becoming one of the last African countries to do so.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast - Israel

Ivory Coast

From the early 1960s, Houphouët-Boigny openly admired Israel's application of technology to economic development. In 1962 the two countries signed a cooperation agreement and exchanged ambassadors. For its part, Israel provided aid, primarily in the form of technical expertise, to the Ivoirian military and to the agricultural, tourism, and banking sectors.

In spite of the close ties between the two countries, Houphouët-Boigny supported the OAU decision to sever ties with Israel following the October 1973 War. Nonetheless, the two countries maintained close if informal links that enabled Israel to continue to participate in the Ivoirian economy. In February 1986, Houphouët-Boigny announced the long-awaited resumption of diplomatic relations. Moreover, the Ivoirian embassy was again to be located in Jerusalem, in defiance of a 1980 United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution calling on all countries to withdraw their embassies from that city. The PDCI, presumably with Houphouët-Boigny's authorization, however, subsequently voted to honor the UN resolution and moved the embassy to Tel Aviv.

In its diplomacy at the UN and other multinational forums, Côte d'Ivoire remained firmly committed to the West. That commitment did not change through 1987--nor was it expected to--especially since the Ivoirian economy required continuing support from Western sources of funding. Nor were there expected to be significant foreign policy changes under a successor to the aging HouphouëtBoigny , since the consensus among the elite on domestic and foreign policy issues was holding, even as the political maneuvering and skirmishing among possible replacements intensified.

Ivory Coast

CITATION: Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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