1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. West Africa
  4. Côte d’Ivoire

Identification protests leave at least one dead

[Cote d'Ivoire] Zuegen Toure (left), the leader of the GPP pro-Gbagbo militia group in Cote d'Ivoire, with Moise Kore (right), his "Defence Minister," and a group of GPP volunteers at their training centre in a commandeered primary school in Abidjan in Oc
Zuegen Toure (left), GPP leader, in October 2004. (IRIN)

Clashes between rival political factions in state-controlled southern Cote d’Ivoire left at least one dead after a weekend of violence, according to the government.

Protests against a national identification programme turned bloody with some eye witness reports putting the death toll at six or more following violence that erupted Sunday in the southern town of Divo, some 200 km northwest of the main city Abidjan.

Orchestrated violence and the presence of armed militias has become a problem in the government controlled south of the divided country since war erupted in 2002.

Doctors said that many of the injured had sustained gunshot wounds after supporters loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo led a protest against plans to launch a national identification programme in the region. Residents said a church was razed and businesses vandalised though it was unclear who fired weapons. Government security forces flew into the area by helicopter to restore calm by late Sunday.

A failed coup in 2002 sparked a civil war that split Cote d’Ivoire with the government maintaining the south and rebels seizing the north. A succession of international mediators has largely failed to reunite the country, with the rebels insisting they will not turn in their weapons until deep-seated questions of national identity are resolved.

The New Forces rebels say that people from the northern regions of Cote d’Ivoire are discriminated against and have been prevented from holding national identity papers, work permits and voter cards by successive southern-dominated governments.

Under UN guidance, a programme of identification is underway that aims to provide some 3.5 million Ivorians with nationality documents through a process of public hearings.

President Gbagbo has criticised the UN, which maintains some 7,000 peacekeepers in Cote d’Ivoire, for being biased in favour of the rebel forces. Gbagbo and his party, the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), say that carrying out a process of identification before the fighting factions have handed in their weapons leaves the process wide open to fraud.

Public hearings have been disrupted across the south by Gbagbo supporters. His militant Young Patriots last week threw up barricades in Abidjan to protest the identification process.

There have been no disruptions of the identification process in the rebel north.

Elections are scheduled to take place in October, but UN Secretary General Kofi Annan early this month warned that that date was likely to slip due to delays in the pre-poll preparations.

aa/ss/cs


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join