Despite the four month old peace agreement, the most important steps have not
yet been taken. The army and rebel militias have not been reduced in size and
integrated, as per the peace deal. Both sides have six more months to do this,
as well as decide who, in the north, is a citizen (and eligible to vote) and who
is not, then hold new elections. The issue of which migrants are citizens is
what sparked the civil war five years ago and, in theory, the peace deal should
make many migrants, or descendents of migrants, voters, and those voters may be
sufficient to get the pro-government, and Christian dominated, party out of
power. The north is mainly Moslem. The five years of conflict has done much
damage to the economy and infrastructure, Unemployment is about 50 percent, and
there are still 700,000 internal refugees (out of a population of 18
million). It's all about money. For decades, migrants from neighboring
countries were allowed in to help with the booming cocoa market. But when
growth in the cocoa market stalled (and competition from Ghana and Indonesia increased),
the Christian southerners sought to expel many of the Moslem migrants in the
north. Fighting broke out in 2002, but neither side was strong enough to
prevail. That is still the situation. There is a peace agreement, but no real
progress towards achieving peace.
July 1, 2007:
Several arrests were made, of men suspected of carrying out the earlier attack
on the prime minister. The men had hidden themselves at the airport, armed with
an RPG and AK-47s. They fled after firing at the prime ministers landing
June 29, 2007: Someone
fired a rocket at an aircraft carrying the prime minister, Guillaume Soro. Four
people died, but Soro was unharmed.
June 27, 2007: The last of
the hundred or so military and civilian prisoners, held by government and
rebels forces, were released, as per the March peace deal.
April 16, 2007: French and
UN peacekeepers begin dismantling checkpoints which separated government and
rebel forces, and divided the country.
April 7, 2007: President
Gbagbo names a new government led by former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, who is
now the prime minister.
March 4, 2007: The
government and the rebels sign a peace deal that will make the head of the
rebels the prime minister.