Ivory Coast: Key people and Parties

People

Baoule people: Thought to be the largest ethnic group within Ivory Coast, descendent from the Akan-speaking ethnic group and highly composed of those of the Christian faith. Primarily represented in the East and Central regions of the country.

Dijoula people (pronounced Jula): Ethnic group from the Mande tradition and highly composed of those of the Muslim faith. Highly regarded within the country as those involved in commerce and trade. Primarily represented in the North of the country.

Bete people: Ethnic group highly composed of those of the Christian faith. Primarily represented in the South and south-west of the country.

Alassane Ouattara (also known as ADO): Ouattara was sworn in as President of Ivory Coast in May 2011, following an election crisis that saw both him and Laurent Gbagbo contesting the results. Ouattara was repeatedly barred from running for election because both his parents were born outside the country. Ouattara was the Prime Minister during the Houphouët-Boigny regime and a former economist with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). Ouattara is the President of the Rally of Republicans (RDR) political party and is often associated with the Muslims and rebels of the north, where his base and primary support system lies.

Laurent Gbagbo: Gbagbo was President of Ivory Coast from 2000 until 2010. He was a history professor prior to his political career, and a pro-democracy activist during the 1990s. Gbagbo was formerly the leader of the FPI political party and then the leader of the LMP coalition party. He is often associated with the Bete ethnic group of the south and south west, where his base and primary support system lies.

Guillaume Soro: Soro has been the Prime Minister since 2007 and also serves as the Minister of Defense for the government. In his PM role, he was charged with helping the country to prepare for the upcoming elections processes. Prior to his joining the unity government, Soro was a leader and spokesman for the FN rebel forces.

Henri Bédié: Bédié was the President of Parliament under Houphouët-Boigny, and later succeeded him in the Presidency as leader of the PDCI party. He was overthrown in a coup d’etat in 1999.Bédié is often associated with the Baoule ethnic group of the central and east-central regions of the country, where his base and primarily support lies. Bédié is credited with the popularization of the Ivorite or 'pure Ivoirianess' xenophobic concept that manipulated the political landscape of the Ivory Coast.

General Robert Guéï: General Guéï was a career soldier who served from the French administration until the mid-1990s. In the 1990s, Guéï refused President Bédié’s orders to quash popular protests and was fired from his position. He later was charged with leading a coup d’etat against Bédié on 24 December 1999. After running new elections the following year, Guéï refused to concede power to Laurent Gbagbo and was eventually overtaken and forced to flee. He was killed under disputed circumstances during the 2002 uprisings.

Félix Houphouët-Boigny: Houphouët-Boigny was the long-time first President of the Ivory Coast from 1960 until his death in 1993. Before becoming President, Boigny was the elected to the first Constituent Assembly representing the Ivory Coast in the French National Assembly from 1946-59, then becoming the first Prime Minister of Ivory Coast in 1959. Boigny was a much-loved, but totalitarian, leader, who was known for leading the country through its most prosperous and politically stable years.

Charles Blé Goudé (born 1 February 1972): Blé Goudé was the leader of the Student Federation of Ivory Coast (FESCI) from 1998 to 2000 and later founded the Jeunes Patriotes group in 2001. Blé Goudé is a supporter of Laurent Gbagbo and was the Minister of Youth under Gbagbo. He is largely known as the “Street General” for his participation in igniting crowds to street violence. Blé Goudé has been under a UN travel ban and asset freeze since 2005 for his alleged participation and direction of acts of violence in the country. In April 2011, Blé Goudé was reportedly captured by pro-Ouattara forces, although this was later reported as false, and many speculated whether he was alive or dead. His whereabouts remain unknown, though he has been allegedly spotted in both Benin and Ghana and has spoken out against the 2011 crisis. The new government has issued an international arrest warrant against him.

Ibrahim Coulibaly (born 24 February 1964 - 27 April 2011): Popularly known as IB, Coulibaly had been in the Armed Forces of Ivory Coast since at least early 1985. Coulibaly is alleged to have joined the coup led by Robert Guéï in 1999 only to later allegedly plan an assassination attempt on Guéï in Sept 2000. He is also accused of another coup attempt in January 2001 against Gbagbo and another alleged assassination attempt on Guillaume Soro in June 2007. He was arrested in Paris in 2003 for his role in destabilising the country, but was released on bail the following year. In 2008, Coulibaly was tried in absentia in Paris and found guilty of organising a militia group. During the 2010 election crisis, Coulibaly led an Abidjan-based militia called the Invisible Commandos supporting Ouattara, though he was later killed by other Ouattara forces during an attempt to disarm his militia in the Abobo district.

General Philippe Mangou (26 January 1952-): Head of armed forces in Ivory Coast from 2004-2011, who has been in the service since 1978. Mangou reportedly sought refuge in the residence of the South African ambassador on 31 March 2011 as Ouattara’s forces entered the city, an action that was widely reported as his defection. Mangou then rejoined the government forces on 4 April 2011. On 12 April, the day after the arrest of Gbagbo, Mangou pledged allegiance to Alassane Ouattara.

General Tiape Kassarate: Head of the military police under Gbagbo. The General defected to Ouattara’s side on 1 April 2011 during the battle of Abidjan.

Paul Yao N'Dre (December 29, 1956 -): Yao N'Dre was President of the Constitutional Council from 2009 to 2010 and Gbagbo supporter. He served as a member of the National Assembly and Minister of the Interior from 2001 to 2003. On December 2, 2010, Yao N'Dre stated that the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI)’s results were invalid as they no longer had authority to announce the election results, because their deadline had passed and subsequently declared Gbagbo winner of the November 28, 2010 elections after cancelling results from seven northern regions. Yao N’Dre soon fled to Ghana, returning on April 21st to meet with new President Ouattara. On May 5, 2011, he announced that the Constitutional Council proclaimed Ouattara to be President and swore him in on 6 May. On 25 July 2011, Ouattara replaced Yao N’Dre with Francis Wodie.

Ahoua Don Melo: Spokesman for the Gbagbo government.

Youssouf Bakayoko (born 19 April 1943): President of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) that presided over the disputed 2010 Presidential elections, Bakayoko announced Ouattara’s win in the 2010 elections behind UN presence in the Golf Hotel. He was Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Ivory Coast from 3 January 2006 to March 2010.

Seydou Diarra: Diarra was the Prime Minister in 2000 and again from 2003-2005 in the Government of National Reconciliation. He was replaced by Charles Konan Banny in 2005 by African Union mediators.

RTI: State-run Ivorian Radio and Television.

Mamadou Koulibaly: President of the National Assembly since 2001. Koulibaly was a leading member of the FPI for years, before quitting in 2011. He acted as a sort of mediator between Ouattara and Gbagbo in the 2010-2011 election crises and became temporary leader of the FPI after the arrest of FPI President Pascal Affi N’Guessan in 2011.

Robert Mambé: President of the Independent Electoral Commission from 2007 until 2010, Mambé was asked to resign from his post after a controversy over electoral lists surfaced in February 2010, though he refused.

Amadou Koné: Spokesman for the Gbagbo government.

Pascal Affi N’Guessan: President of Ivorian Popular Front for several years following Gbagbo’s ascension to the Presidency, Pascal was also Prime Minister from 2000 until 2003. Following the capture of Gbagbo in April 2011, Pascal was arrested and held in detention in Bouna in the north-east of the country.

Simone Gbagbo: Simone is the second wife of Laurent Gbagbo, nicknamed both “Maman” by supporters, and the “Iron Lady” or “Blood Lady” by opposition. Mrs Gbagbo is credited with co-founding the FPI with her husband Laurent. She was elected as an MP and declared herself president of the FPI’s parliamentary group. Mrs Gbagbo was reportedly put on a UN blacklist after being suspected of human rights abuses linked to death squads in the early 2000s, though the allegations were never proven. Mrs Gbagbo was captured and arrested alongside her husband by the FRCI in April 2011.

Soumaila Bakayoko: Bakayoko was a General of the New Forces since at least 2007 and was deemed as a critical General during the 2011 invasion on Abidjan. In July 2011, Bakayoko was named as Chief of Staff of the country’s new army and is charged with overseeing the integration of the new national army forces.

Zacharia Koné: Koné was a New Forces commander who led a short-lived mutiny in June 2008 and was dismissed from command in May 2008. He later became a commander in pro-Ouattara forces during the 2010-2011 election crises.

Alcide Djédjé: Djédjé was the Ivorian Permanent Representative of the Ivory Coast to the UN from 2007 until 2010 and was later succeeded by Youssoufou Bamba. Prior to his post at the UN Djédjé was appointed as Special Adviser to President Gbagbo in 2005.

Bamba Yacouba Speaker for the CEI who attempted to announce the first batch of election results on November 30, 2010.

Damana Adia Pickass: Pro-Gbagbo member of the CEI who snatched the papers away from Yacouba during the first reading of preliminary Presidential election results at the press conference November 30, 2010.

Political Parties

Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (Parti démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire or PDCI): Also known as PDCI- Rassemblement democratique africain (PDCI-RDA). Led by Henri Konan Bédié. Founded in 1944, the PDCI is the oldest political party in the country. From Independence in 1960 until 1990, the PDCI was the only legal party in the country, led by President Houphouët-Boigny. The party lost power in the December 1999 coup. In May 2005, the PDCI joined with the Rally of the Republicans (RDR), the Union for Democracy and Peace in Ivory Coast (UDPCI) and the Movement of the Forces of the Future (MFA) to form a coalition called the Rassemblement des houphouetistes pour la democratie et la paix (RHDP). The group is thought to have considerable support from the Baoule ethnic group.

Ivorian Popular Front (Front Populaire Ivoirien or FPI): Led by Pascal Affi N’Guessan. Founded in 1982 by Laurent Gbagbo as a centre-left, social democratic party. FPI was a member of Socialist International up until the 2010 crisis. The party came into power in the 2000 elections, with Gbabgo as its leader. The group is thought to have considerable support from the Bete ethnic group.

Ivorian Workers’ Party (Parti Ivoirien des Travailleurs or PIT): Led by Francis Wodié who was later appointed leader of the Constitutional Council in July 2011. The party was founded in 1990 as a centre-left, democratic socialist party. Wodie ran for President in 1995, 2000, and 2010.

Rally of the Republicans (Rassemblement des républicains or RDR): Led by Alassane Ouattara and is presently the governing party in the country. Founded in 1994 by Djeny Kobbina as a centrist, democratic liberalist party after it split from the then ruling PDCI party. RDR signed a coalition agreement with the PDCI, UDPCI and MFA in 2005 to form the RHDP. The party is also widely associated with the Forces Nouvelles (FN) rebel group). Ouattara was prohibited from running in the 1995 election due to the amendments of the electoral code which required candidates to have lived in the country for the past five years and to have been born of Ivorian parents. The party came into power following the 2010 election, after boycotting the 1995 and 2000 elections.

Rassemblement des houphouetistes pour la democratie et la paix: Or Houphouëtiste Rally for Democracy and Peace or RHDP. The RHDP formed in 2005 as a coalition of RDR, PDCI, Mouvement des forces d’avenir (MFA) and the Union pour la democratie et la paix en Cote d’Ivoire (UDPCI).

Presidential Majority Party (La Majorité Présidentielle or LMP): Coalition of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), Ivorian Alliance for the Republic and Democracy (AIRD), Citizens' Alternative National Movement (MNC), Republican Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PRCI), Party for Unity and the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire (PURCI), Rally for Peace, Progress, and Sharing (RPP), Citizens' Democratic Union (UDCY), Union of the New Generations (UNG), Republic Union for Democracy (URD), and the Union of Social Democrats (USD) formed to counter the RHDP. Once Gbagbo had ascended to the Presidency, it was not possible for him to retain his position as President of the FPI political party, as a new President was chosen to replace him. The Constitution states it is necessary for a candidate to be in a political party, so Gbagbo created this new coalition party so that he could run in the 2010 election.

Femmes Patriots: An unarmed, pro- Gbagbo political party with ties to violent demonstrations in Abidjan in the early 2000s.

Student Federation of the Ivory Coast (FESCI Federation Estudiante et Scolaire de Cote d’Ivoire): A student group that is linked to violent demonstrations in Abidjan in the early 2000s. The group was founded in the early 1990s as a student union, but was later banned by President Bédié.

Armed Factions:

New Forces (Les Forces Armees des Forces Nouvelles de Cote d’Ivoire or FAFN or FN): Formed in December 2002 as an armed political coalition of the Patriotic Movement for Ivory Coast, Ivorian Popular Movement of the Great West, and the Movement for Justice and Peace parties. Current Prime Minister Soro is the spokesman and leader for the FN. Prior to the 2010, the FN were commonly known as the “rebels” in the civil war. The new army, the FRCI, is primarily composed of former FN members.

Invisible Commandos: an armed militia group that fought against Gbagbo during the 2010-2011 crisis, led by General Ibrahim Coulibaly (killed by the FRCI forces on 27 April 2011) and based in the Abobo neighbourhood of Abidjan.

Dozos: Traditional society of hunters that commonly carry weapons, the Dozos acted as “guards for hire” and an unofficial police force prior to the civil war in the absence of a state police presence to control crime. The Dozos became associated with the rebels of the north. They long had a reputation as “community crime-fighters”, though this image has recently been tarnished as the group is believed to have participated in the 2011 massacre in Dueoeke.

Young Patriots (Jeunes Patriotes): A youth militia loyal to Gbagbo led by Charles Blé Goudé, the Young Patriots are considered the militarized wing of the FPI political party and have been linked to numerous violent protests and other abuses. The group is largely drawn from student networks such as FESCI, as well as the FPI and unemployed youths from the southern regions of the country.

Lima: The name given to mercenary/bandit gangs from Liberia operating in the Ivory Coast, taken from the French officers’ “Lima” radio call sign “L” for Liberia. The mercenaries based in the Ivory Coast were said to have formed the backbone of the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) in 2003 against Charles Taylor. Many are said to have acted as “guns for hire” during the recent 2010 conflict, selling their services to the highest bidder.

National Armed Forces of Ivory Coast (FANCI - Force Armée Nationales de Cote d’Ivoire): Also referred to as the Security and Defence Forces or FDS). Divided into several subsets. Many of these factions have been completely decimated in the fighting of 2010-2011 and no longer remain.

  • Army - armed with a mix of Soviet small arms
  • Navy - limited navy (perhaps a total of 2 operational craft), limited to coastal operations only
  • Air Force - mostly destroyed in 2004 by Licorne forces
  • Gendarmerie - paramilitary police, regarded as intensely loyal to Gbagbo
  • Republican Guard – force of about 1000 intensely loyal to Gbagbo, responsible for the security of the President
  • Police Nationale - Government police force
  • BAE Brigades Anti-Emeutes - Anti-riot squads
  • CRS: Compagnie de Recherche et de Sécurité – Research and security company

International Parties:

ECOWAS: The Economic Community of West African States, a group of fifteen countries in the region who came into the country in January 2003 with approximately 1,500 peacekeeping troops. They later became part of the UNOCI operation in April 2004. Ivory Coast’s membership into the body was suspended in early December of 2010, as Gbagbo ignored their repeated calls to step down. The group sent in mediators and threatened the use of force against Gbagbo, though never acted on these threats and instead called for strict sanctions.

United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the Ivory Coast (ONUCI): ONUCI has been in place since 2004, continuing to renew its mission on an annual or semi-annual basis. The ONUCI forces participated in the ousting of President Gbagbo following the election crises in 2010.

Licorne Forces: French armed peacekeeping operation in the Ivory Coast since 2002 in support of the ONUCI operation and to ensure the security of French and foreign nationals. The Licorne forces destroyed the Ivorian air force after a November 2004 attack on a French base by the Ivorian troops, igniting anti-French sentiment and massive riots and battles between French forces and Ivoirians. During the elections crisis of 2010-2011, the Licorne forces played a pivotal role in attacking Gbagbo positions with ground and air support.

Choi Young-jin: (born 29 March 1948) Appointed as the United Nations Special Representative for Ivory Coast in October 2007. Choi played a crucial role in the 2010 elections processes and the ensuing violence, as the UN intervened militarily.

Guillaume N’Gefa: Spokesman for the UN mission in Ivory Coast.