Sunday, April 3, 2011
Aid workers in the Ivory Coast have discovered the bodies of up to 1,000 people in the town of Duekoue.
According the Telegraph: The apparent massacre came despite the presence of United Nations troops and - if confirmed - will cast a shadow over Mr Outtara’s assumption of the Ivory Coast’s presidency after a four-month battle to oust Lawrence Gbagbo, the former president who lost the November election but refused to step down.
So why is the Ivory Coast (or Cote d'Ivoire) of importance? From the CIA Factbook:
In December 1999, a military coup - the first ever in Cote d'Ivoire's history - overthrew the government. Junta leader Robert GUEI blatantly rigged elections held in late 2000 and declared himself the winner. Popular protest forced him to step aside and brought Laurent Gbagbo into power. Ivorian dissidents and disaffected members of the military launched a failed coup attempt in September 2002. Rebel forces claimed the northern half of the country, and in January 2003 were granted ministerial positions in a unity government under the auspices of the Linas-Marcoussis Peace Accord.
In March 2007 President Gbagbo and former New Force rebel leader Guillaume SORO signed the Ouagadougou Political Agreement. As a result of the agreement, SORO joined GBAGBO's government as Prime Minister and the two agreed to reunite the country by dismantling the zone of confidence separating North from South, integrate rebel forces into the national armed forces, and hold elections. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of rebel forces have been problematic as rebels seek to enter the armed forces.
Ivory Coast is the world's largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans and a significant producer and exporter of coffee and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products, and, to a lesser extent, in climatic conditions. Cocoa, oil, and coffee are the country's top export revenue earners, but the country is also producing gold.
Gold and cocoa are two reasons that the French are especially concerned. The Ivory Coast has no real ability to get at its own gold. Cocoa takes over 5 years for the plants to mature to where they start producing fruit. Cocoa is an extremely time consuming endeavor and most farmers are opting to grow other crops that are easier and produce profits more quickly. Cocoa can only be grown in a certain latitude and many of these countries are choosing to abandon cocoa for other crops. This means soon Snickers and Milk Way may start costing as much as a gallon of gas.
If the Ivory Coast destabilizes, then the troubles will now have spread to West Africa. Liberia and Sieria Leone amy become embroiled in civil war as well.