Ivory Coast Recent History

Coastal state of West Africa, small, relatively fertile, rich in raw materials and quite populous, it has attracted the sights of the French since the eighteenth century and was intensely colonized since the first decades of the nineteenth century.

In 1904 the railway began which, starting from Abidjan, arrived in Bouarè in 1913 after overcoming many difficulties in crossing the forest. Then came, after a distance of 488 km. in Tafirè. It thus constituted an important trade route, already very developed in 1927, especially with exports to France of the main products, such as coffee, of which the Ivory Coast is the third largest producer in the world, after Brazil and Colombia.

With the opening of the Vridi canal in 1950, trade developed considerably and the industrial district of the city was also expanded, with great impetus given to the local paper mill, the soap factory, the cellulose factory and the oil refinery. All this made Ivory Coast one of the most flourishing countries in West Africa. It was also the center of political action in 1958, which led to independence, always remaining within the Franco-African community.

According to Abbreviationfinder, the favorable outcome of this policy was the great work done by F. Houphouet-Boigny, an important mediator with France for the achievement, without bloody struggles, of the freedom of the French-speaking colonies. He created an “African Democratic Grouping”; he was a moderate, but he did not always manage to curb the nationalistic impulses of the countries subject to France, sometimes leading to radical demands.

Ivory Coast Recent History

After a popular referendum in 1958, Boigny could not prevent the establishment of a federation among the new African states.
Having become head of the state of Côte d’Ivoire, Boigny was able to block the expansion of the Federation of Mali, by withdrawing Dahomey and Upper Volta from it. Then with these two states and with Niger, after the approval of the Constitution of his country, which took place on March 26, 1959, on the following April 4 he concluded a Council of Understanding for close political collaboration, which was the Union of Sahel-Benin.

On 11 July 1960 the Ivory Coast in Paris concluded an agreement obtaining independence, which was officially proclaimed on the night of 6 to 7 August. The new Republic of Ivory Coast was admitted to the United Nations on September 20, 1960.

Under the wise guidance of President Boigny there was a gradual, but steady, progress across the country which became one of the most prosperous in West Africa. The one-party government always carried out organizational and promotional functions, also making use of foreign aid, particularly French.

Even in constitutional and political stability, disagreements arose in 1961, carried out by students and trade unionists, but they were arrested. And also in 1963 two plots were foiled and the authors imprisoned.

Power consolidated and in 1964 several important reforms were launched, especially those concerning family law. Then there was a period of tranquility and relaxation between opponents and in 1965 many political prisoners were freed.

Boigny, sensitive to the requests of the people, slowly made various substitutions among the components of the government, mostly French, with the introduction of many indigenous elements, and young Ivorian technocrats in 1966 went to be part of the leadership. Among these important were: K. Bedia, Minister of Finance; M. Diawara, Minister for Economic Affairs and A. Sawadogo, Minister of Agriculture.

In 1968/69 some xenophobic opposition demonstrations came to the government, aimed at obtaining for the Ivorians those jobs and those positions still inherited from many foreigners, mostly French.

In 1970 immigration was blocked from neighboring African states and in 1973 some army officers attempted a coup; they were tried and sentenced to death, but later condoned.

All this for internal politics. Internationally, Boigny was always of a pro-Western ideology but in 1966 he established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union as well.

A rather criticized initiative of the President was in 1968 the recognition of the Republic of Biafra, which deteriorated relations with Nigeria; then recover.

Another highly discussed proposal by Boigny was to establish a dialogue with the government of South Africa in 1971, which was never accepted. And, although since 1973 attempts have been made to change the course of international economic relations, in 1974 new commercial contracts were signed, not only with France, but also with Great Britain and Japan.

In October 1975 the IV Congress of the governing party took place and in November following Boigny was re-elected as President of the Republic.

After 1977, due to the drop in international prices of coffee, cocoa and timber, the economy of the Ivory Coast experienced a setback and rumors of military plots against the government began to circulate in the country; so in 1981 Boigny, also following specific directives from the International Monetary Fund, began a policy of privatization of some state industries and cuts in public spending. Popular protests were not long in rising so the president had to make concessions, such as that of the organization of essentially African executive cadres and the fight against corruption.

In 1980 Boigny had been re-elected and with the overcoming of a long drought lasting from 1982 to 1984 he was able to reorganize the improvement of the economy. In 1985, new elections renewed the position of President Boigny who, however, by now in late age, found himself having to face ethnic and regionalistic disagreements and with the increase in unemployment and xenophobia.

In the first half of 1990 the situation precipitated considerably. Collected students and armed forces called for Boigny’s resignation and “multiparty”. Despite everything, Boigny re-emerged in the presidential election in October 1990 and was reconfirmed.

In the following November, the general elections were held for the first time, won with an overwhelming majority by the “Parti Democratique de la Cote d’Ivoire”, leader F. Houphouet-Boigny.

The required change from single party regime to multiparty one was greatly opposed by government leaders. This caused great protests, especially students, and also xenophobia also found a certain development: the presence of immigrants consisted of 30% of the population and every day more was badly endured.

In order to overcome this state of affairs and definitively crush student protests, in June 1991 the government placed troops inside the universities, arresting in February 1992 the most staunch opponents, including party leader L. Koudou Gbagbo, as well as the president of the “Ivorian League of Human Rights”, R. Degny-Segu. They were later released in July when the president promulgated an amnesty that also included the military guilty of violence against students.

However, disagreements persisted within the ruling party, also busy preparing the succession for Elder Boigny.

He died in December 1993 and his successor was the president of the National Assembly, under the Constitution, H. Konan Bedie, supported by France who had remained the country’s main economic and commercial correspondent.

He then won the presidential elections of October 1995 with 95% of the votes. Equally high was the suffrage obtained, in the November legislative, by the governing party, the “Democratic Party of the Ivory Coast”.

To meet the demands of the International Monetary Fund, and to support the country’s economic recovery, despite having achieved positive results, Bediè maintained its rigid policy.

In October 1996, Bediè promised a process of democratization, also in order to meet certain justified requests from the oppositions. In February 1998, in order to prevent the worsening of the economic situation, he asked for funding from the International Monetary Fund with the commitment to further reduce public spending and to accelerate the already planned and started privatizations.