State and politics
From independence in 1960 until 1993, the Ivory Coast was
ruled by Félix Houphouët-Boigny and his party, the Parti
démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI), which before
1990 was the country's only allowed. The period thereafter
has been marked by harsh political contradictions that at
times degenerated into civil war.
The constitution of the Ivory Coast was adopted by a
referendum in 2016. It replaced the 2010 constitution, which
in turn replaced the one in force since independence in
1960. According to the constitution, the country is a
democratic and secular republic with general and equal
voting rights. The President holds the executive power and
is elected in direct elections for five years and can be
re-elected. The president appoints the prime minister, who
in turn appoints the government, and is also
commander-in-chief. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of IV and its meanings of Ivory Coast.
The president since 2010, Alassane Ouattara, was born in
1942 and his political opponents have claimed that his
parents were not Ivorian citizens, something he himself
denied. The new constitution removed the requirement that
both the president's parents be born in the country. It is
enough now that one of the parents is Ivorian and that the
candidate himself is a citizen only in Ivory Coast. The
upper age limit of 75 years was also removed. Another change
was that a vice presidential candidate should be appointed
before the elections.
The legislative power is exercised by Parliament, which
has 255 members, elected for five years. According to the
new constitution, an upper house, the Senate, was to be
established and so happened in March 2018, when the first
Senate elections were held. Of the 99 members of the Senate,
66 are appointed by regional and municipal assemblies and
the remainder by the president. The term of office is five
During the tumultuous years in the early 2000s, Front
populaire ivoirien (FPI), led by Laurent Gbagbo, took
over the role of the country's dominant party. The CPI
claims to be socialist but for a distinctly nationalist
policy. Alassane Ouattara and his party Rassemblement
des houphouëtistes pour la demokratie et la paix (RHDP)
hold a strong position among the predominantly Muslim
population in the northern parts of Ivory Coast as well as
his old party Rassemblement des républicains (RDR).
The guerrilla groups that took up arms against the
government in 2002 formed themselves politically under the
name of Forces Nouvelles (UN).
After the 2000 parliamentary elections, the FPI received
96 seats while the PDCI received 94 seats. In practice, the
constitution was disregarded by Laurent Gbagbo, who was
proclaimed president in 2000 after an election that,
according to the outside world, did not reflect the views of
the population. By referring to insufficient preparation,
with the reluctant approval of the international community,
he was able to postpone the next election for five years.
Through the peace agreement that ended the civil war in
2003 and a new agreement in 2007, the Ivory Coast was to be
ruled by a unifying government until such time as general
elections could be held. According to the agreement, some of
the president's powers would also be transferred to the
prime minister, but uncertainties about this contributed to
the problems in government cooperation.
In the 2010 presidential election, Ouattara was declared
victorious by the electoral commission but Gbagbo refused to
resign. The country found itself having two rival
presidents, two governments and two sets of ambassadors. An
almost united world recognized Ouattara as legal head of
state and received the ambassadors he appointed. Regular
fighting between Gbagbo's and Ouattara's troops broke out in
the winter of 2011. Gbagbo was finally captured in April
2011 by Oauttara's forces, backed by France and the UN. Both
sides were charged with crimes against humanity in
connection with the fighting and Gbagbo was brought to the
International Criminal Court in The Hague in November 2011.
In December of that year, the first parliamentary elections
were held for eleven years. Since Gbagbo's party FPI decided
to boycott the election and asked voters to do the same,
turnout was low, 36 percent. The RDR became by far the
largest party with 127 seats; the second largest was PDCI
with 77 seats.
The 2015 presidential election was also disputed and in
many places violent outbursts erupted. Ouattara was allowed
to stand despite parts of the opposition protesting,
pointing out that he has a partly foreign background, a
claim that Ouattara himself disputes. The president was
re-elected with 84 percent of the vote against only 9
percent for the FPI candidate, former Prime Minister Pascal
Affi N'Guessan. The election result was 55 percent. In
connection with the election, Amnesty International accused
the regime of harassing the opposition and arbitrarily
arresting government opponents.
After a new constitution was approved by Parliament in
October 2016, a referendum was held on the issue. 93 percent
of the voters supported the proposal, but turnout was only
42 percent. The December 2016 parliamentary election
attracted even fewer to the polling stations; less than 35
percent of the electorate participated. Ouattara's RHDP
received 167 out of 255 seats and 76 independent candidates
were selected. No other party received more than six seats
and the FPI received only three. Of the MPs, only 29 (11 per
cent) were women. See also History.
The legal system is based on French law in combination
with local customary law. The judicial system consists
mainly of the Supreme Court of Abidjan, the appellate courts
and the courts of the Court of First Instance. The death
penalty was abolished in 2000.
The relatively stable albeit authoritarian Ivory Coast
during the 20th century came during the early 2000s to find
itself in political turbulence and economic instability.
Laurent Gbagbo took power in 2000 under couped forms. This
was followed by military revolts and several civil wars, in
which both sides of the conflict were guilty of crimes
against humanity (see History).
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the situation in
the country has been marked by abuses against civilians,
arbitrary detention, harassment by roadblocks and acts of
violence by members of defense and security forces. Although
torture, corporal punishment and other inhuman treatment are
prohibited under the Constitution, both government forces
and rebel groups have subjected people who have been forced
to flee their homes, due to internal conflicts, to torture
and sexual abuse.
However, improvements have been noted regarding freedom
of expression and printing in the country. According to
Reporters Without Borders, Ivory Coast has climbed in the
2015 Press Freedom Index from place 118 2010 to place 86.
Women's influence in society increased during the 2000s
thanks to many active women's organizations despite the
extensive gender-related violence. Genital mutilation, which
is prohibited by law, is widespread and reports show that
nearly half of the country's women have been subjected to
the abuse (2010). Trafficking in non-Ivorian women is also
As a result of the protracted conflicts, the children
have been hit hard. They have been recruited as child
soldiers and subjected to sexual abuse as well as outright
murders, and the number of orphans is extensive. Child labor
is a common occurrence and many children end up in
vulnerable situations on plantations and as a labor force in
households where violence and sexual abuse occur. Impunity
is widespread for perpetrators.
Homosexuality is not prohibited by law, but LGBT people
also do not enjoy any special protection from the state and
they are stigmatized in society.
In Ivorian legislation, it is stipulated that people with
disabilities may not be abandoned, however, the group is
discriminated against in the labor market and many are
forced to live on the street and beg for their survival.
Heads of State
||Henri Konan Bédié