Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman
CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, February 11, 2003

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For IMMEDIATE Release

Prospects for Peace in Ivory Coast
Rep. Royce Schedules Wednesday Subcommittee Oversight Hearing

BACKGROUND -- Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) is the latest West African country to fall victim to armed conflict. A pillar of political stability in the region since its 1960 independence, Ivory Coast is now in the midst of an armed conflict begun last September 19th, when a mutiny by soldiers quickly transformed into an organized rebel movement, the Patriotic Movement of Cote d’Ivoire (MPCI). Ivory Coast is now split roughly in half, with the MPCI and two allied rebel groups controlling the north in their campaign against the government of President Laurent Gbagbo, which controls Ivory Coast’s south, including its capital of Abidjan. This conflict has led to the deaths of thousands and produced an estimated one million displaced persons in this country of 16 million. Adding to the conflict’s volatility are religious tensions, with the Gbagbo government (dominated by his Ivorian Popular Front party) enjoying the support of the Christian and animist population, predominant in the south, while the rebels reportedly operate with some measure of popular support in the mainly Muslim north, which has been marginalized from Ivorian political life. While not widespread, church and mosque burnings have occurred. There has also been a spate of extrajudicial killings, including by forces reportedly allied with the government.

WHAT: Oversight Hearing: Prospects for Peace in Ivory Coast, Subcommittee on Africa, U.S. Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman

WHEN: 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 12, 2003

WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESS: Hon. Walter H. Kansteiner III, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Timothy M. Docking, Ph.D., Program Officer, Research and Studies Program, U.S. Institute of Peace; Jeanne M. Toungara, Ph.D., Professor, Department of History, Howard University

This hearing will examine forces driving this conflict and assess the U.S. policy response:

bulletAre the rebels being armed by foreign governments?
bulletWhat are the merits of, and prospects for, the recently negotiated, French-backed peace agreement, the Marcoussis Agreement?
bulletCould this conflict result in the widespread killing of civilians?
bulletIs the level of U.S. engagement in line with its interests in West Africa?
bulletIs the fate of West Africa on the line?