The Ivory Coast has experienced a lively political season in the last year. If we wanted to establish a temporal thread to help us interpret what has happened, we could take as a reference two moments of mourning that have significantly marked this period, plus a judicial follow-up that could open up new paths. At one end of this ideal thread is certainly the death of Amadou Gon Coulibaly, dauphin of Ivorian President Alassane Dramane Ouattara, who died on July 8, 2020 when he was still Prime Minister. At the other end, the thread closes with the death of another Premier, Hamed Bakayoko, who disappeared on March 10, 2021, and the acquittal of former President Laurent Gbagbo on March 31 at the International Criminal Court. Coulibaly’s death opened the door to Ouattara’s third term in office, contested by the oppositions that have sparked demonstrations and forms of civil disobedience and widespread violence. The 78-year-old Head of State was “forced” to get back into the game by challenging a diverse opposition front, which eventually called for a boycott of the elections.
The latter were won by Ouattara in the first round, with 94.27% of votes in favor compared to a very low participation rate (53.90%). In the meantime, there has been violence that has led to fears of more far-reaching clashes: from this point of view, fatigue and the memory of what happened ten years earlier, at the height of the confrontation between Ouattara and Gbagbo, perhaps represented a brake. Nevertheless, the country remains divided, polarized between North and South. Pascal Affi N’Guessan, one of the opposition candidates, denounces violence and the death of at least 30 people at the hands of Ouattara’s supporters, according to him. And they were equally disputed by former president Henri Konan Bedie. Côte d’Ivoire comes from a long period of division and, in particular, the 2002 crisis, which continued into 2010. Ouattara’s role was to be able to reconcile all positions, but this was not the case. Criticism has not gone unheeded, at least on the surface, as Ouattara has set up a Ministry dedicated to national reconciliation, entrusted to one of his election opponents, Koaudio Konan Bertin, a dissident from the Rassemblement des houphouëtistes pour la démocratie et la paix (Rhdp).
The acquittal of former President Gbagbo and his ally Charles Ble Goude by the International Criminal Court has also paved the way for the return of the two to their homeland, which could symbolize a turning point towards reconciliation but also give new breath to the opposition, for better or for worse. The disputed October 31, 2020 presidential election was one of two elections that fell between Coulibaly’s death and Bakayoko’s. In the legislative elections of March 6, 2021, as expected, the Rhdp affirmed itself once again with the election of 137 deputies to the Ivorian National Assembly, equal to 54% of the seats. The result is considered satisfactory, but is below the expectations that the Rhdp had on the eve of the vote. On the opposition front, the alliance of the two political camps of pro-Bedié and pro-Gbagbo brought home the election of 81 deputies, 32% of the total. The Front populaire ivorien (FPI), aligned with Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and allies obtained 10 seats, while 26 independent deputies were elected. With the elections closed, news of Bakayoko’s death broke.