Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/371/6084

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 November 2004

Ivory Coast:

Imperialism in new occupation

DURING THE US preparations for the invasion of Iraq many in the anti-war movement, including some influential voices on the liberal left, were taken in by the opposition of the French government and its diplomatic efforts to avoid a war. Can the French government act as a progressive counterweight to US and British imperialism? Recent events in Ivory Coast have given the answer.

Keith Pattenden

The former French colony of Ivory Coast was once held up as a shining example of economic growth and political stability. Based on phenomenal growth rates throughout the 1960s and 1970s the wealthiest economy in West Africa could be transformed into a modern Western-style democracy according to capitalist pundits. Yet now the break down of the ceasefire and descent into chaos threatens the very existence of Ivory Coast as an integral state.

This situation will also have serious repercussions for its neighbours. Burkina Faso to the north and Liberia to the west are especially vulnerable as refugees stream across the borders.

Most capitalist commentators trace the trouble back to the military coup in 1999, but the seeds of ethnic conflict go back much further than this.

The country's prosperity was fuelled by cocoa exports, accounting for 40% of world production. But Western commodities markets determine prices, while the currency is tied to the French franc.

These two factors meant that genuine economic independence or industrial development was impossible. Nor did the indigenous neo-colonial capitalists have any incentive to invest in developing a domestic market as long as the cocoa profits were pouring in. Falling prices and the devaluation of the franc in the mid-1990s meant severe economic crisis and political turmoil.

Ivory Coast had been a one party state until 1990 when the ruling Ivory Coast Democratic Party (DPCI) was forced to concede multi-party elections.

Since independence the state had been dominated by the southern Christian political elite represented by the DPCI, but as the economy shrank, the mainly Muslim northern elite began demanding more influence and power.

Civil war

When Alassane Ouattara (a former International Monetary Fund official from the north) announced his intention to run for President in 2000, sitting President Robert Guei, who had just taken power in a military coup, played the 'race card' by claiming Ouattara was a not a genuine Ivorian as his parents came from Burkina Faso.

Guei's predecessor, Bedie had introduced the concept of 'Ivoirite' in an attempt to shore up his support. This limited political office to people of Ivorian descent, thereby excluding many northerners from standing for election. The race was restricted to Guei, of the DPCI and Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI). Gbagbo's supporters refused to accept the results and widespread rioting forced Guei to flee. Gbagbo was then proclaimed President and the IPF became the biggest parliamentary bloc.

But the seeds of civil war were already sown. Despite a power-sharing agreement between three main parties the following years were marked by a series of uprisings and army rebellions, and full scale civil war.

The peace accord reached in early 2003 saw the deployment of 4,000 French peacekeeping troops augmented by United Nations and African Union forces. But as the socialist said at the time, this was in effect a recolonisation by French imperialism. Capitalist powers intervene to protect their own national interests and it was inevitable that the French would come to be seen as an army of occupation.

Occupation

The fragile peace settlement was bound to break down and when the conflict re-ignited in March, Gbagbo's government launched a series of air strikes on the north. The UN troops as usual were powerless to prevent this. But the French army did respond when nine of its troops were killed, probably unintentionally in one of the raids. President Chirac ordered the Ivorian air force to be destroyed. Gbagbo claimed it was an act of war and Ivorian retaliated by attacking French businesses in the commercial capital Abidjan.

So far 200 people mostly Ivorians have been killed and there is no end to the crisis in sight, despite the intervention of South Africa's president Thabo Mbeki and the African union.

French and other European citizens are being airlifted out of the country, while the African Union has called for sanctions to be imposed. This rapid response when imperialist interests are threatened is in stark contrast to the West's and African Union's lethargic approach to the carnage in the Sudan and Congo.

The main concern of the West is to contain the violence and prevent it spilling over to destabilise neighbouring states. But the centuries of imperialist exploitation and divide and rule guarantee that there can be no long-lasting peace in the region.

All of the existing political parties represent this or that faction of the wealthy elite. None of them are concerned with the well-being of the masses.

Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone, show the future for the whole of West Africa unless the working class intervenes under its own banner. Only they can show a way forward by uniting the myriad ethnic groups under the banner of class unity against the imperialists and their local agents.

Workers and poor peasants should look for inspiration to their brothers and sisters in Nigeria, where militant action by workers has shown the potential power for such united action.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 20 November 2004:

The bloody cost of war

Ireland: Socialist Party MP attacks Irish Government

Colin Powell - a dodgy dove


Socialist Party campaigns

Come to ISR conference

Pensions: "Unity in action" call

Childcare plans ignore real needs

NUS extraordinary conference


International socialist news and analysis

Palestinians mourn Arafat but struggle for liberation will continue

Imperialism in new occupation


Socialist Party workplace news

UNISON elections - nominate Roger Bannister

Protecting jobs in outsourcing deal

Join the Jaguar demo

Agenda for Change ballot masks discontent


 

Home   |   The Socialist 20 November 2004   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Ivory Coast:

triangleProfiting from wrecking the environment

War:

triangle1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

triangleA new world order - global reconstruction after World War Two

triangleThe Spanish Flu of 1918 and how it "fanned the flames of revolt"

triangleThe Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2

Africa:

triangleSouth Africa: 60 years marking the Sharpeville Massacre

triangleSouth African Airways workers win wage increase after strike action

triangleViolence against women in South Africa

International

International

27/5/20

Hong Kong

Chinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests

27/5/20

Lebanon

Economic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon

20/5/20

US

Trump, coronavirus, capitalism, and the presidential race

6/5/20

India

India: Fighting the curse of capitalism and coronavirus

6/5/20

Trump

Trump puts profit before safety (again)

6/5/20

US

US: Trump's public health cuts have condemned thousands worldwide

29/4/20

May Day

A CWI May Day 2020 statement

29/4/20

Ireland

Irish police use Covid-19 emergency powers to disperse Dublin shop workers' protest

22/4/20

USA

US private healthcare system in meltdown

14/4/20

Coronavirus

Rapacious capitalism and the spread of coronavirus

8/4/20

CWI

Coronavirus, capitalism and fighting for socialism worldwide

8/4/20

Amazon

Amazon workers threaten revolution!

18/3/20

France

French local elections: CWI candidate elected

18/3/20

Coronavirus

United States: private healthcare exposed as Trump throws money at markets

18/3/20

Coronavirus

'Health not profit' strike wave sweeps Italy

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999