Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to continue to follow the situation in Côte d’Ivoire closely. With the opening of a new chapter after forces backing internationally-recognised President Ouattara captured former President Laurent Gbagbo on 11 April, the focus is beginning to shift to the enormous peacebuilding needs in the country. The capacity and mandate of UNOCI to cope with these needs in the current phase of the peace consolidation process in Côte d’Ivoire is also expected to be discussed as Council members work on proposals for a new strategy.
The Council may also extend the temporary deployment of some UNMIL troops and aviation assets to Côte d’Ivoire to support UNOCI, which expires in mid-May.
A key issue for the Council is to determine how best it can maintain a priority focus on Côte d’Ivoire in the changed context, especially regarding the role of the UN and UNOCI in assisting peacebuilding.
A closely related issue for the Council is ensuring that UNOCI continues to be able to support the maintenance of security, in view of ongoing reports about pockets of resistance by remnants of pro-Gbagbo forces, so as to avoid protracted armed resistance that could potentially escalate into a relapse of full blown conflict. (Currently at least four armed groups—the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire, militia forces aligned to Ouattara but not under the direct command-and-control structure of the Ouattara camp e.g. the “Invisible Commandos,” pro-Gbagbo forces and mercenaries—will have to be brought within the ambit of effective state control.)
A related issue is the urgent need for disarmament, demobilisation and security sector reform programmes to be developed.
A further related issue is the potentially destabilising effects of the developments in Côte d’Ivoire on peace and security in West Africa, due to likely availability of arms from the Ivorian theatre, the strain of the humanitarian needs of refugees on host communities in fragile states like Liberia and concerns about the potential movement of armed mercenaries allegedly recruited by the belligerents in Côte d’Ivoire along the porous borders.
A major ongoing issue for the Council is that of balancing its own role and the roles of the regional and subregional organisations in consolidating peace in the country.
Another issue is whether the Council should begin active consideration of how best to provide effective oversight for the large and complex peacebuilding needs of the country. It is unclear whether placing the country on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission is feasible, since the current challenges confronting the country (e.g. issues relating to national reconciliation and rebuilding, including the strengthening of state institutions to enable them to adequately maintain national peace and security, as well as strengthening democratisation and improving socioeconomic situations) suggest the need for enhanced peacebuilding action. A related issue is the need for more effective coordination and coherent resource mobilisation during this period.
Key Recent Developments
On 20 April, armed clashes occurred between two pro-Ouattara forces—the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire and the Invisible Commandos force—in Abidjan, when the Invisible Commandos repulsed an attack on their stronghold in the suburb of Abobo.
On 22 April, Ouattara ordered all soldiers to return to their barracks, stating that law and order will be enforced by the police and gendarmes, and indicated that the Invisible Commandos should disarm or be forcibly made to comply. On 23 April General Ibrahim Coulibaly, leader of the Invisible Commandos, informed the Associated Press that he was prepared to surrender his forces’ arms but it would require some time to organise it.
On 21 April, the AU Peace and Security Council welcomed Ouattara’s assumption of “State power” and decided to lift its suspension of Côte d’Ivoire from the organisation.
On 22 April, Ouattara met with the head of Côte d’Ivoire’s Constitutional Court, Paul Yao N’Dre, in an apparent conciliatory gesture. (N’Dre had declared incumbent leader Gbagbo the winner of the disputed 28 November presidential elections, contrary to the UN’s certification of Ouattara as winner of the polls.) Ouattara subsequently indicated that he will be sworn into office during the second part of the month of May. N’Dre later told the press that he blamed all Ivorians for the situation in the country stating that “we are all responsible for what happened; the current president, the former president Gbagbo, citizens, the media that inflamed it.”
On 27 April, Coulibaly (head of the Invisible Commandos) was killed by the Republican Forces during an offensive on his headquarters situated in the northern part of Abidjan.
(For further information please see our 20 April 2011 Update Report.)