After a failed coup on September 12, 2002, the Ivory Coast disintegrated into a Civil War. The Ivory Coast had been one of Africa's success story. A French force separated the warring factions.
The political and social unrest in the Ivory Coast, also known as Côte d'Ivoire, culminated in a civil war that broke out following a failed coup attempt on September 12, 2002. Prior to this period, the country was considered an oasis of stability and economic prosperity in West Africa, largely attributed to its booming cocoa and coffee industries. The failed coup, however, served as a trigger that revealed the underlying tensions within the country, particularly along ethnic and religious lines.
The coup attempt was led by disaffected military officers and was primarily aimed at overthrowing then-President Laurent Gbagbo. Despite the coup's failure, the rebel forces, known as the Forces Nouvelles, managed to gain control over the northern part of the country, effectively splitting the Ivory Coast in two. The government retained control over the south, where the economic capital, Abidjan, is located.
The international community, led by France—Côte d'Ivoire's former colonial ruler—intervened to try to stabilize the situation. French forces, under the umbrella of Operation Licorne, created a buffer zone between the warring factions in an effort to halt the advance of the rebel troops towards the south. The French military's role was multifaceted: to protect French nationals living in the Ivory Coast, to assist in humanitarian efforts, and to act as a peacekeeping force between the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south.
Various peace accords were brokered in the years following the start of the civil war, such as the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement in 2003 and the Ouagadougou Political Agreement in 2007. Despite these efforts, the underlying issues of land reform, nationality, and political representation remained largely unaddressed, leading to sporadic violence and unrest.
The civil war also had disastrous consequences for the Ivorian economy. What had been a hub for foreign investment and a symbol of prosperity in the region suffered a significant decline in both domestic and foreign economic activities. The cocoa and coffee sectors, vital to the Ivorian economy, were particularly hard-hit, affecting global commodity markets and the livelihoods of local farmers.
The United Nations and the African Union became increasingly involved in efforts to mediate the conflict and facilitate democratic elections. The 2010 presidential election led to another crisis when incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refused to acknowledge his defeat to Alassane Ouattara, triggering yet another wave of violence and international intervention.
Overall, the civil war in the Ivory Coast exposed deep-seated divisions within the country and undermined its position as a beacon of stability and economic success in Africa. The French intervention, while crucial in preventing a complete collapse of the state, also raised questions about the role of former colonial powers in the domestic affairs of African nations. Despite several peace agreements and international mediation, lasting stability remains elusive, underscoring the complex, multi-dimensional nature of the conflict.