For IMMEDIATE Release
Prospects for Peace in Ivory Coast
BACKGROUND -- Ivory Coast (Cote dIvoire) 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 dIvoire (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 Coasts 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 conflicts 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: