Ivory Coast: The Situation Gets Toxic

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September 8, 2006: The northern rebels threaten to restart the war if elections are not held next month, as promised. The government did not hold elections last October, when they were first scheduled to take place. The UN agrees that, because of lack of government cooperation, elections cannot be held next month. President Gbagbo wants to destroy the northern rebels, but does not have the military power to do so. He can't push past the 10,000 peacekeepers. However, he can keep delaying new elections until the UN and French give up and withdraw their peacekeepers. Then, Gbagbo apparently believes he can resume the civil war, and win it.
September 7, 2006: The government (the 32 cabinet ministers) resigned as a result of the toxic waste scandal.
September 6, 2006: Suddenly, the government found itself under attacks from a new direction. There were riots in the capital when it was revealed that several tons of toxic waste had been unloaded from a ship last month, and left in local garbage dumps, and near sources of drinking water. As a result, several thousand people were sick from the fumes, and several appear to have died from it. A local firm has contracted to safely dispose of the toxic waste, but just deposited the stuff in garbage dumps around the capital to save money. Such expedient disposal of toxic waste from Europe and the United States is common in Africa. Government officials are easy to bribe, and there plenty of out-of-the-way places to dump the stuff.
August 15, 2006: The government continues to delay making peace and reuniting the country. The government has stalled the process of issuing ID documents to the 20 percent of the population that does not have them. Also delayed, are the new presidential elections.

 

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