Five key reasons Ivory Coast's election led to civil war

The ‘Ivoirité’ campaign and the Young Patriots

The nationalistic concept of Iviorité – which means being a “true” Ivorian, born in the country to two Ivorian parents – had been in the background since immigrants first began arriving in the country, but it was Mr. Bédié who turned it into a political tool and popular southern campaign, known as Ivoirité. He used Ivoirité to gain support for disqualifying Ouattara’s candidacy in the 1995 presidential election on the basis of Ouattara not being “100 percent” Ivorian. He was excluded once again in the 2000 election against Gbagbo, again because of a dispute over whether he is a true Ivorian.

Gbagbo has a band of fiercely nationalistic supporters known as the Young Patriots who have a history of taking violent action against foreigners (both actual foreigners and Ivorian citizens who are only considered “foreign” by xenophobic southerners).

In the years after the country’s 2002-03 civil war, the threat of the Young Patriots being set on the population once again was a sometimes paralyzing obstacle to the country’s peace process. The gangs of young Ivorians cropped up again in the buildup and aftermath to the November election. There were reports of them burning Ouattara supporters alive at checkpoints and staging intimidation campaigns when mediators came to the country.

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