In October 1995, Bédié won the presidential election boycotted by the opposition. For the first time since independence, foreigners residing in the Ivory Coast were not allowed to participate in the elections, just as they were also barred from participating if only one parent was a foreigner. That enabled Bédié to “eliminate” his rival Ouattara, whose father came from Burkina Faso.
Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan formed a new government in January 1996 with 31 members. Here, they were disappointed with expectations of real change – 25 of the ministers came from the old government. However, thanks to rising world market prices for coffee and cocoa, the economic figures showed signs of progress.
In order to comply with World Bank and IMF regulations, the Ivory Coast intensified its economic reform plans and privatization programs. The two international financial institutions agreed to provide the country with loans totaling $ 385 million. However, the adjustments in the public sector created enormous problems in the health sector, and life expectancy fell below 50 years. To this should be added that AIDS and other scourges such as yellow fever and tuberculosis were rapidly advancing.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: What does IV stand for? In the field of geography, this two letter acronym means Ivory Coast. Check this to see its other meanings in English and other 35 languages.
In March 1998, the United States Department of State declared that the Ivory Coast had not only become a hub for trafficking in drugs such as heroin, but that marijuana was also grown in cocoa plantations.
The opposition called for a reduction in the electoral age from 21 to 18 – the age at which young men must simultaneously do military service. The president rejected the claim. He feared that this section of the population affected by his social policies would turn against him in the October 2000 elections.
Due. student demonstrations closed the government in May 1999, the educational institutions, but the situation developed in a more violent direction. In the second quarter, there was a clash between the drivers’ union and the police in various parts of the country. The majority of UDR’s leadership was arrested in November following a demonstration against the president’s control over the state information agencies.
In December, General Robert Guéi crashed in a military coup Bedié fled the country. The United States and the EU called on the junta to reintroduce democracy. After declaring the treasury empty, Guéi took over the post of interim president in January 2000. At the same time, he announced the implementation of a referendum in August to amend the constitution and the conduct of elections in October. It immediately prompted opposition candidates to start the election campaign.
The amendment to the Constitution lowered the voting age to 18 years. But other proposed amendments to the Constitution – which came at the last minute – faced criticism. This included the proposal that the parents of presidential candidates should originate in Ivory Coast. A proposal that clearly aimed to exclude Ouattara, whose parents according to his opponents originated from Burkina Faso.
Despite the United States, France and a number of pro-democracy groups urging Guéi not to take part in the election, he nevertheless chose to take part as an independent candidate. They feared that his influence in the military would diminish the credibility of the elections.
According to Countryaah.com, the population of Ivory Coast in 1996 was 14,199,651, ranking number 59 in the world. The population growth rate was 3.550% yearly, and the population density was 44.6533 people per km2.
Despite its numerical scarcity (about 20 million), the Ivorian population is divided into more than 60 ethnic groups, of which the main ones are: Akan, Krou, Southern Mande, Northern Mande and Senoufu / Lobi. More than 60 African languages and dialects are also spoken in the country (in particular agni, baoulé, senoufo and malinke), although the official language remains French, which is used by the media, the school system and the public administration. Based on the 1998 census, the most widespread faith is Muslim (38.6%), followed by Catholic Christian (32.8%) and Protestant (6.6%). Traditional and syncretic cults remain widespread (28%), together with African independent churches. About one third of the population is made up of immigrants or the children and grandchildren of immigrants. During colonialism, France favored the transfer of rural labor from inland countries such as Niger, French Sudan (today’s Mali) and above all Upper Volta (today’s Burkina Faso). There are also important Lebanese and Syrian communities that arrived with the approval of the French colonizers with the task of carrying out an economic or administrative intermediary function. Until the civil war, the relatively rich economy of the Ivory Coast continued to represent a privileged destination for the residents of the poorer neighboring countries. Emigration has contributed to the increase in the rate of urbanization and to the aggravation of the problem of urban unemployment, particularly in Abidjan, although poverty continues to affect mainly the rural population.
Despite the efforts made and the school system that follows the French one, the illiteracy rate remains high. Respect for human rights, in what was called a partially free country, has considerably deteriorated due to the civil war, which has also led to the contraction of freedom of the press. President Ouattara, on the basis of other African countries, has appointed a Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, with the aim of judging those responsible for the violence during the civil war. There are fears that an unbalanced trial against supporters of former President Gbagbo, currently held in the International Criminal Court, could have devastating effects on Côte d’Ivoire’s chances of recovery.