Due to the escalation of violence in Cote d’Ivoire, the United Nations has begun sending in approximately 2,000 more peacekeeping troops to the existing force of 8,000 ’blue helmets’ in the West African country currently embroiled in a political conflict along with three attack helicopters in order to protect civilians in face of further violence that could spiral into a bloody civil war raging between the military under the influence of Gbagbo and Gbagbo’s rival candidate Ouattara’s supporters in the 2010 elections.
Cote d’Ivoire security forces have cracked down on protesters including all-female protesters who were peacefully demonstrating against ‘President’ Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down from his government office. At least five women were killed.
Although Gbagbo was supposed to step down in 2005 due to the expiration of his mandate, Gbagbo has managed to delay the over-due elections numerous times until 2010. Once the 2010 elections came, Cote d’Ivoire’s strikingly Nigerian-like demographics pitted a Muslim north (for Alassane Ouattara) against a Christian south (for Gbagbo) in the 2010 elections where Ouattara won 54% of the votes while Gbagbo won 51%.
Claiming election fraud, Gbagbo’s side rejected the election results and admantly fixtured Gbagbo as Cote d’Ivoire’s president. Gbagbo’s refusal to step down from power outraged the Ouattara’s supporters and the international community that now claims Ouattara as the winner of the elections.
The United Nations declared that it no longer recognized Gbagbo as president of Cote d’Ivoire. The Economic Community of West African States suspended Cote d’Ivoire’s membership due to Gbagbo’s actions. Economic sanctions may affect Gbagbo’s ability to hold on to his power as ‘president’ along with his support coming from military leaders.
Since November, over 360 people have died.
Conditions for civilians are worsening as the violence continues displacing tens of thousands of people, particularly in the commercial capital of Abidjan.
Supplies of water and electricity have been cut off in several parts of Cote d’Ivoire, mainly the north, which could seriously drag down hospitals’ efforts for those injured or in need of medical assistance. There are also worries that the lack of water and electricity may also culminate in disease which would only worsen the situation in the embattled country.
(Cover Photo: EPA)