Côte d’Ivoire: A Crisis of Leadership from Houphouët-Boigny to Bédié, Gbagbo and Ouattara

Author: Jean-Claude Meledje

Meledje, Jean-Claude, 2016 Côte d’Ivoire: A Crisis of Leadership from Houphouët-Boigny to Bédié, Gbagbo and Ouattara, Flinders University, School of History and International Relations

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This thesis examines the root causes and effects of contemporary conflict in Côte d’Ivoire,

focusing particularly on the period since the civil war broke out on 19 September 2002 after

a failed coup d’état. It assesses the roles of the key players in order to provide comprehensive

analysis of Côte d’Ivoire’s economic, political and social instability. Importantly this thesis

examines the key concept of Ivoirité to show how the ethnicisation of politics has shaped

conflict and crisis in this West African nation. Furthermore, this thesis argues that the root

causes of the conflict can be traced back to the period of Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the first

President of the independent, post-colonial nation, and his failure to successfully manage a

leadership transition from his generation to the next. During his three decades of rule, there

were no plans made for his succession, and thus when he ultimately died in office, political,

economic, and social instability resulted, plunging the country into ongoing crises and


Côte d’Ivoire is still recovering from the heavy consequences of the contested 2010

presidential elections between Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, which caused

political-military crisis from December 2010 to April 2011. Ouattara, the new President, has

inherited a weak economy with high levels of unemployment, increased costs of living, and

rising insecurity. This situation continues to deteriorate as the country tries to recover.

However, this has led to a stalling of the national reconciliation process, which, as this thesis

argues, is one of the few vehicles for peace and stability to occur in the country.

Keywords: African Political transition

Subject: International Relations thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2016
School: School of History and International Relations
Supervisor: Tanya Lyons