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Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Is Ivory Coast descending into chaos?

Sporadic unrest in Ivory Coast is becoming increasingly frequent. On Monday gunfire was heard yet again on the streets of Abidjan after a pre-dawn attack on coup leader Robert Guei's residence.

News and Information for Africa
The run-up to the general election, due to return the country to civilian rule, has been dogged by controversy.There was also a military rebellion in July.

Is this unrest likely to be long term? Can stability be restored?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Ten years after I left my native Ivory Coast for the US, I returned for a brief vacation in 1998. Chaos had already settled here for a quite sometimes. I do not see a quick end of this mess. Too much ethnical pride is at stake. The whole thing is silly.
Widy Bagnon, USA

Cote D'Ivoire will come back to normal just after the election on October 22nd 2000 because the choice of all Ivorians will be known.
Bousias, USA

Well I blame the Ivorians for expecting some kind of messiah in uniform and ignoring 40 years of African experience. Well, we told you so!
Beatus, Nigeria

This country is just starting to taste the bitter meal its West African neighbours have been forced to eat for decades

Thierno Diallo, USA
Ivory Coast is spiralling down into the abyss. It's very sad, but this country is just starting to taste the bitter meal its West African neighbours have been forced to eat for decades. For so long, the leaders of this country have miscalculated by believing it is immune to the crippling and devastating disease that has been destroying millions of lives in the sub-region. They thought they lived in a prosperous island surrounded by a sea of despair and misery.
Now that the ethnic and political volcano has erupted, the confidence of the business community has been shaken through its core foundation. It will take years to attract new foreign capital even after Wattara or Guei's departure from the political scene. Ivory Coast has been lucky for such a long time. Their luck has definitely run out. The sad and blinding truth remains that all of Africa's highest ranking leaders are rotten and corrupt beyond any hope of salvation.
Thierno Diallo, USA

I think that the main problem actually is Guei. He should let civilians compete, and allow the population to decide who they want as President. People are mature enough to decide for themselves. The country is not personal property of anyone.
Now, if he is interested in politics, he could be candidate in 2005. Running in this election is totally inappropriate for him, and will increase the chaos.
Messini Coulibaly, USA

I worry for the innocent citizens who long for peace and stability

Laurie Spivey, USA
I was in Côte d'Ivoire this summer and was actually in Bouake on July 4, the day of the mutiny. There is no question that this country has already entered the realm of chaos, and I feel it's only going to get worse. I worry for my boyfriend who is in the Peace Corps in Côte d'Ivoire, and I worry for the innocent citizens who long for peace and stability.
Laurie Spivey, USA

Ivory Coast is on the road to anarchy. It is another sad chapter in the affairs of the African continent. The military is ready to take power using the barrel of the gun rather than the ballot box. The lives of ordinary people will be destroyed and transformed for many decades to come. The young generation will be denied education and a better life for Ivory Coast will be setback to pre-independence.
J. Patrick Flomo, Ohio, USA

Ivory Coast is a shame. Military rulers once in power will never step down to pave way for democracy. What we are seeing in Cote d'Ivoire is a justification for Guei and his friends to continue ruling that country.
Milton Nyerere, Tanzania

I think both Guei and the former Prime Minister are the problems of Ivory Coast

Ade, USA
I think both Guei and the former Prime Minister are the problems of Ivory Coast. Like all other African leaders, they have tasted the corruption of power and will not easily let go unless they are forced to.
Ade, USA

I pray and hope that the Ivory Coast will not decay into what happened to Liberia. The pattern of behaviour of the current government is very similar to that of the military government in Liberia during the early days of the 1980 coup. Many Liberians including myself cannot return home today because of the ruthless leadership that has prevailed since 1980. Let us all pray for peace to prevail.
Asumana K, Pelima, Liberia/ Cleveland OH, USA

General Robert Guei is attacked by people out to kill him and he gets blame for this. This sounds interesting. So, what do you want him to do, go shake the hands of people who are cowardly enough to ambush him? No, I don't think Ivory Coast is headed for chaos, unless maybe the opposition leader chooses this way.
Ndung'u Ndegwah, Kenya

Like nearly every other military dictator, he has betrayed his own words and the people he claims to have come to save

Brian Farenell, USA
When General Guei took power, many people, including myself, lauded him as saving Cote d'Ivoire's unity and preventing it from descending into chaos. We gave him the benefit of the doubt and have been proven wrong. Simply put, General Guei is now acting like every other military dictator that has cursed the African continent. Arbitrary arrests, the banning of opposition marches, conspiracies real and imagined. Like every other military dictator, he came to power promising to eliminate corruption and like nearly every other military dictator, he has betrayed his own words and the people he claims to have come to save.
Brian Farenell, USA

A General in the military in any civilised society is in charge of men in uniform and not involved with the complex issues of running a state. If Robert Guei has any shred of dignity, it's high time he stepped down and invited people and organisations that have what it takes to run a clean and fair election to come and salvage this very beautiful country from sliding into a bottomless pit.
Kwenga Gabriel Heanji, Belgium

As an American living in Côte d'Ivoire, I fear for the people who live here and want peace and progress. It is unfortunate that ethnic tensions and power hungry politicians will drag this beautiful land further down. Despite what you hear in the news, 99% of the problems are due solely to ethnic tension, a sad excuse for violence.
Tommy, Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast was never a stable country, it was kept by the French. Once the big brother (France) withdrew his support, the nation showed its real face: a poor and unstable country.
Kalongo wa Kalongo, Congo

Ivory Coast saga is another lesson to Africans that until structures are put in place and respected we will continue to change leaders and end up crying for the one we have changed. It was pomp and pageantry in the country when Guei took power with promises of heaven on earth for all Ivorians. Today he is doing the same thing he sent Bedie in exile for. Will Africa ever learn?
Cillaty Daboh, Sierra Leone

The country can be saved only if this power hungry general resigns from and runs independently. He is clearly trying to hijack the presidency while it is clear that Alassane Ouattara is the person the country needs and wants. Hope it is not too late for the international community to intervene.
Coul, Ivory Coast

It is sad to see that African leaders, whether political or military have not learned from the history of their neighbours. Military rule, in most instances, creates anarchy, as is the case with Liberia and Sierra Leone. When will the West African leaders learn?
Chyrl, Liberia/ USA

Chaos has already arrived

Jacob Guy, Cameroon
Is the Ivory Coast sliding towards chaos? Well, chaos has already arrived. This is most frustrating and shameful for us Africans. Once again, a short-sighted, egotistical and power-hungry African strongman is driving his country right into the abyss. God have mercy on the people of Ivory Coast.
Jacob Guy, Cameroon

It is almost impossible to determine how long this is going to take. However, what is at stake here is democracy in Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast has been one of the few examples in Africa, a relatively stable country. I do not think Guei and most Ivorians would want what happened in Liberia and Sierra Leone to come to Ivory Coast.
Unisa Barrie, Sierra Leone/ USA

African leaders would rather die in power than relinquish it

Yokolo Ema, Ivory Coast
African leaders would rather die in power than relinquish it. They love power not their country.
Yokolo Ema, Ivory Coast

The country is certainly sliding into chaos. Military governments all over Africa have been a disaster and Ivory Coast will not be an exception. The military should return to their barracks before they do any more harm to the country.
Kasirye Ssaalongo, USA

As long the military is around, there will be no peace in Ivory Coast. This unrest shows that Africans are sick and tired of their rule. The military must go and the sooner the better.
Charles L. Massaquoi, Malmo, Sweden

I am praying the people of Ivory Coast will learn from the tragedy of Liberia and find a better way to restore a strong democratic government.
Fred O, USA

What a shame. Ivory Coast has had a reputation for peace and stability. This is a rarity, considering the turmoil that has enveloped the rest of the African continent. It is unfortunate that the 1999 coup has undone so much progress. Discontent now seems tangible among the populace and the military. General Guei's autocratic measures and language thus far do not bode well for the democratic future of the country.
Pete, Canada

The situation in Cote d'Ivoire is not well understood by the outside. I'm an international journalist who was sent to Abidjan to cover the referendum and I can say that the international media is making it seem like it is really bad and we are on the brink of chaos. In a way yes, but Ivorians today really do not care about the politics, they just want to have the fundamentals of life.
Herve Kacou, Canada

Regrettably, that country is sliding irreversibly towards madness

Ubong Effeh, UK (Nigerian)
Regrettably, that country is sliding irreversibly towards madness. I say this because once the military begins to operate in factions (as in Liberia and Sierra Leone) each inevitably aims for the highest stake. History reminds me that once this happens, they never stop no matter how much suffering is inflicted upon the people.
Ubong Effeh, UK (Nigerian)

When Liberia's Charles Taylor started his bloody adventurism some years ago, he relied on Ivory Coast as a conduit for his arms trafficking when he was refused entry through Sierra Leone. The aftermath was bloodshed in Liberia, Sierra Leone and now Guinea. The clock I believe is turning towards Ivory Coast. What they supported, has finally come back to haunt them.
Henry Beagema-Williams, New York/ Sierra Leone

Africa is tired of self-appointed leaders. If Guei is wise he should quietly step down and let democracy return to Ivory Coast. He has a choice. Quit or be killed.
Michael Ikhariale, USA

I think somebody should try to tell President General Robert Guei that his time is up. I wish Africa Presidents had a term limit just like the USA. Without this, the same President runs again and again saying the people re-elected him and ruling for life. It is a joke to our democracy and voting rights.
Amhara, Ethiopia

I am really disappointed by Guei's behaviour. Stability will never come back to Cote d'Ivoire unless Guei understands that he cannot stand for election. If he persists, well Cote d'Ivoire will unfortunately experience what is happening in Togo today.
Guy Bouaka, Togo

When Guei came to power many political analysts thought he stepped in at the right time before Ivory Coast degenerated into chaos. What Guei has done is to create more problems instead of solving them. Until real democracy is fully restored anarchy will prevail, a lesson many Africans refuse to learn. My only hope is that Guei will see the writing on the wall.
Clement Chiwaya, Malawian studying in USA

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See also:

18 Sep 00 | Africa
Ivory Coast's political chameleon
18 Sep 00 | Africa
Oasis of calm no more
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