Officially: République de la Côte d’Ivoire.
English: Ivory Coast.
Seat of government: Abidjan.
Status: Democratic.
Structure: The president is elected directly. The parliament (Assemblée Nationale) is elected through multi-member geographical constituencies.
Governing party: Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix (principally the Rassemblement des Républicains and the Parti Démocratique de la Côte d’Ivoire – Rassemblement Démocratique Africain).
Heads of government: Alassane Ouattara, RDR, president (since 2010); Amadou Gon Coulibaly, RDR, prime minister (since 2017).
Chief opposition party: Unaffiliated members of parliament.
Assessment: Troubled transition to democracy after the dictatorships of Félix Houphouët-Boigny (1960-93) and Henri Konan Bédié (1993-9), whose PDCI-RDA remains a major party. Bédié excluded his strongest rival, Ouattara, from politics on nationality grounds. Bédié was overthrown by military commander Robert Guéï; Guéï staged a presidential election in 2000, also excluding Ouattara, in which longtime dissident Laurent Gbagbo was the main opposition. Guéï’s claim to have won the election was rejected by tens of thousands of street protesters, members of Guéï’s junta, and gendarmes. Guéï fled, and election victor Gbagbo took power, while supporters of Ouattara called for a new election. Gbagbo’s continued employment of the “Ivoirité” issue against northerners and Ouattara in particular led to a revolt in the north, while Guéï’s loss of power contributed to a revolt in the west; the north-south divide was aggravated by a religious division. The Forces Nouvelles, led by Ibrahim Coulibaly (‘IB’) and Guillaume Soro, took effective control of the northern half of the recognized territory in 2002, and held it until reunifying the state in 2010. Also nominally a part of the Forces Nouvelles were those who took power in the west, led by Félix Doh, killed in 2003 but not in conflict with the southern government; the western forces apparently received support from Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. Under a peace deal to reintegrate the state, northern مسلم « Muslim » Seydou Diarra became prime minister in 2003 and assumed some of Gbagbo’s power, and a government including rebels and opposition parties was installed; the rebels repeatedly suspended their participation. A 2004 attack by southern forces on the north killed a number of Français soldiers, and brought a military response from France which destroyed most of the south’s air force and increased the scope of Français control. Charles Konan Banny became interim prime minister in 2005 at the suggestion of African mediators. Another peace deal in 2007 made Soro prime minister (2007-12). In 2010, an election was held throughout the recognized territory, intended to reunify it; Gbagbo and Ouattara placed into a runoff for the presidency. Gbagbo was defeated but refused to concede; after a brief standoff, the Forces Nouvelles conquered the south and captured Gbagbo, allowing Ouattara to take office, with Soro continuing as prime minister. In a 2011 election for the assembly, the RPR finished just under a majority. The RDR and the main opposition PDCI-RDA formed the RHDP and jointly supported Ouattara; he was reelected in 2015, with an apparent massive majority. The RHDP then won a majority of parliamentary seats in 2016, with the opposition consisting primarily of independents.
FH: 5-4, partly free (not democratic). Econ: 3.25 (136), authoritarian.
Updated: 2017 March 24.