ACCORD recently published a Conference Paper titled 'Peace processes in Côte d'Ivoire: Democracy and challenges of consolidating peace after the post-electoral crisis' authored by Dr Doudou Sidibé. In this paper, Sidibé examines the reasons – other than former President Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to relinquish power – why the 2010 presidential elections led to violent conflict which resulted in the deaths of civilians.
Sidibé argues that the long-running conflicts in Côte d'Ivoire are a direct result of pervasive poor democracy and governance that has dogged the country since the early 1990s. He begins his analysis by defining democracy as 'a government of the people, by the people, for the people' and explaining that the attainment of full democracy is an ideal which remains difficult for many countries to achieve. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit's democracy index (2011) Côte d'Ivoire falls in the index's 'authoritarian regimes' category, due in large part to the political instability the country has been experiencing since the death of its founding father, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, in 1993. The culmination of this instability was the electoral dispute between former President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) and Alassane Ouattara, leader of the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire – African Democratic Rally (RDR) and current president of Côte d'Ivoire, after the second round of presidential elections held on 28 November 2010.
The paper examines the various reasons why Côte d'Ivoire's 2010 elections led to war, even though they were intended to end the long-running crisis. The author also presents a review of available literature on elections in post-conflict countries to provide background to encourage better understanding of the conflict. Sidibé concludes by discussing lessons learnt from the crisis and putting forward recommendations to ensure the consolidation of peace in Côte d'Ivoire. In his recommendations, the author proposes that the main focus of the government should be on re-establishing the authority of the state, strengthening state institutions, establishing the rule of law, rebuilding the army and combating unemployment as these strategies are key to consolidating peace and democracy in the country.
An earlier version of Sidibé's paper was presented at the International Association for Conflict Management (IACM) 25th Annual Conference which was held in Stellenbosch, South Africa from 11 to 14 July 2012. ACCORD hosted a panel discussion at this prestigious event. The panel discussion examined the realities of negotiated settlements, comparing political settlements and transitions in South Africa and other, more recent conflict settings on the continent. ACCORD also awarded three scholarships to scholars presenting research papers at the event as a means of supporting research and analysis on conflict and conflict management in Africa. Sidibé's paper was one of those which was supported by ACCORD.