Dakar/Brussels, 27 June 2007: The Ouagadougou Peace Agreement could pave the way to Cote d'Ivoire's reunification, but the political crisis is yet to be resolved and continues to threaten stability in West Africa.
Côte d'Ivoire: Can the Ouagadougou Agreement Bring Peace?, the International Crisis Group's latest report, analyses the stakes of the accord concluded in March 2007. The agreement is a major turning point, but for the time being, it is merely a compromise between two armed leaders: President Laurent Gbagbo, who is concerned with remaining in power, and Guillaume Soro, the head of the rebel Forces Nouvelles and the current prime minister, who is anxious to secure his political future in a reunified country. The agreement is also the result of the re-engagement of Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré, supporter of the Forces Nouvelles, who is weary of an extended Ivorian crisis.
"The Ouagadougou agreement is still unstable since it is yet to be implemented. Care must be taken to avoid the accord becoming a mere pause between two periods of conflict", says Olakounlé Gilles Yabi, Crisis Group Analyst. "Even if optimism remains high, the delays in the execution of the accord are already worrying".
The 2002 attempt by the Forces Nouvelles rebels to topple President Gbagbo plunged the country into civil war, which international military intervention and diplomacy ended. But the armed conflict was the result of political tensions, manipulation of the definition of national identity and the spread of violence, all factors which have come to the fore since the struggle for succession following President Félix Houphouët-Boigny's death in 1993.
The potential end to the crisis offered by the power-sharing agreement between Gbagbo and Soro is only a first step. The government should seek UN and other international support to institute mobile courts for issuing identification documents and carrying out the electoral census, disarmament and security sector reform.
The international community must remain engaged with all parties and support stability and a clean electoral process. In order to guarantee the credibility of elections, the mandate of the UN High Representative for Elections must be renewed - against the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General. Ivorian civil society should promote debate on the lessons to be learned from the conflict and necessary reforms.
"The future of the country cannot be dependant on the thirst for power of a handful of figures", adds François Grignon, Crisis Group's Africa Program Director. "If we try to build peace on a foundation of vested interests alone, the country risks falling back into violence".
Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels)
32 (0) 2 541 1635
Kimberly Abbott (Washington) 1 202 785 1601