Ivory Coast: Gang Rule

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February 2, 2006: President Laurent Gbagbo's most powerful force is his young gangs, which can mobilize thousands of young men to attack anything from unarmed civilians, to well armed peacekeepers. The UN now says that it will meet force with force, but Gbagbo apparently doesn't believe it. The UN has enough peacekeepers to prevent Gbagbo troops from advancing north, but not to control the pro- Gbagbo gangs. If the UN does not shut down the gangs, the country will slip further into anarchy and poverty.

January 31, 2006: Fear of more anti-UN violence is driving farm workers, in the west, back to their villages, to defend their families. This is threatening the April Cocoa harvest, and what's left of the economy. Several years of civil disorder has impoverished what used to be one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. The anti-UN groups, who are supporters of president Laurent Gbagbo, have threatened more violence if UN peacekeepers try to reoccupy their bases in western Ivory Coast. The Gbagbo gangs are demanding that the rebels up north disarm, and that the peacekeepers get out of the country.

January 27, 2006: Because of the anti-UN violence, the UN has pulled a fifth of its 2000 staff out of the country. This will hamper relief efforts, especially since several NGOs have also pulled their staff out. The anti-UN rioters have done a lot of looting, cleaning out food warehouses and aid organization headquarters. The rioters have gone after refugee camps holding 13,000 people from Liberia and other countries. The Ivorians want the refugees out.

 

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