Last month, 600 soldiers from the Forces Armées des Forces Nouvelles, a coalition of rebel movements in Côte d'Ivoire, laid down their arms as part of a process to disarm rebel groups and integrate them into the national army. In an e-mail interview, I. William Zartman, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, discusses ongoing conflict management in Côte d'Ivoire.
WPR: What is the current status of post-conflict reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire?
I. William Zartman: Côte d'Ivoire has had a conflict management, not a conflict resolution, situation for the last three years, in that violence has stopped since 2004, but issues between the northern rebels and the government have not been resolved. The Ouagadougou Agreement, signed in 2007 by President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces (FN) leader Guillaume Soro, confirmed the end of fighting and opened both halves of the country to trade and travel. It provided for a power-sharing government and the holding of the missed 2005 presidential election, initially rescheduled for early 2008 but repeatedly postponed. It also provided for the disarmament and cantonment of the FN militias and the integration of 5,000 of them in the national army.
In fact, only parts of the agreement have been implemented. The "confidence zone" across the middle of the country has been opened to traffic, and normal economic life has been revived. The joint government operates, with Soro as prime minister under Gbagbo. However, government funds have not been released for the cantonment and integration of the FN troops, and the North is governed by seven "com'zones" (rebel military commanders) using their own local tax money. Rebel leaders are also the main controllers of the lucrative trade in cocoa, cotton, tropical woods, cashew nuts, gold and diamonds.