A leader willing to use violence against his own people, protesters shot dead on the street, looming humanitarian problems, and the spectre of all out civil war; but this is not Libya. The deteriorating situation in Ivory Coast is not looming large on the backgrounds of international newsrooms but the African and international communities have just as much responsiblity to highlight the difficult situation facing Ivorians, as they do Libyans. The disputed elections of last November were intended as the culmination of a drawn out peace protest to heal the wounds of a recent civil war. Instead, Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power following his electoral defeat has led to escalating violence (some 400 deaths since November according to latest UN figures) and the possibility of a renewed North-South conflict. The democratically elected Ouattara’s power base is in Ivory Coast’s northern territories; former stronghold of the civil war’s anti-government forces. Given the impact of the stalemate on the country’s cocoa export, the political face-off may also begin to have serious consequences for the livelihoods of small scale producers who rely on international markets.
As Libya dominates the headlines it is essential that Ivory Coast is not forgotten. A peaceful, nationwide solution needs to be found in a country which has already experienced too much conflict.
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