Cote d’Ivoire prepares for parlimentary elections

Ivory Coast braces itself for parliamentary elections amid smoldering tensions with the country.  Still recovering from the violence of last years presidential election, the worlds leading exporter of coca could be set for more fighting.  In anticipation, UN tanks are patrolling the commercial capital Abidjan.

Last years fighting was brought on after Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after losing to Alassane Ouattara in the presidential elections.  Nearly five months of fighting between rebels in the north, largely Muslim and supporters of Ouattara, and Gbagbo’s southern and largely Christian supporters, would end in 3,000 deaths.  With the aid of French and UN troops Laurent Gbagbo was arrested April 11 2011.  Mass graves, rape, arson, Liberian mercenaries, and the displacement of a million people took place.

This in turn fractured an already uneasy truce between the north and south of the country.  Just this Thursday a rocket attack killed three people at  political rally.  To make the situation more grave, former president Gbagbo is on trial currently in the ICC for war crimes.  So what do we have to look forward to?

Unfortunately this is not going to be an easy or violence free election.  Many in the south of the country, particularly in Abidjan, still have huge resentment towards what happened to there leader. The BBC reports that hundreds of  protestors gathered outside the ICC in the The Hague to voice their anger at the proceedings.  Confounding the situation even more is the fact that no one within Alassane Ouattara’s government has been charged with anything.  This to spite evidence that atrocities took place on both sides.  While President Ouattara has called for calm in Cote d’Ivoire, it is unlikely to have much effect on a very divided public.

Several years before the elections experts were predicting that some sort of small scale civil war would be fought.  Now while it seems unlikely that the nation will descend into what happened in 2010-2011, it seems inevitable that violence will break out again.  Gbagbo and his supporters still hold sway over the youth militia the Young Patriots.  These hardcore supporters are poised to fight again; there leader Charles Ble Goude is still at large with in the country.  On the flip side, those northern rebels and supporters of Ouattara are certainly willing to take up arms again.

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