One Country, Two Presidents: Ivory Coast’s Political Crisis
With two rival candidates having declared themselves winners of Ivory Coast’s November 28 presidential election, the government remains paralyzed. Many people in this West African nation fear violence, reports Reuters.
Both incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and opposition challenger Alassane Ouattara held swearing-in ceremonies and claim to be running the country. Gbagbo still controls the presidential palace and government buildings, according to Reuters. Ouattara is operating a parallel administration from a hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s largest city.
The African Union, the United Nations, and world leaders such as President Obama recognize Ouattara as the winner based on election commission results. But the country’s highest legal authority, the Constitutional Council, has declared Gbagbo the victor, backing his allegations of election fraud.
The African Union is mediating the crisis. Washington is prepared to impose sanctions on Gbagbo and his family if he fails to recognize Ouattara as the election winner.
SOS Children’s Villages Not Currently Affected
Ivory Coast, in French known as Côte d’Ivoire, (the country gained independence from France in 1960), lies on the Atlantic Ocean between Liberia and Ghana. It is the world’s largest cocoa producer, but poverty and illiteracy rates are high, leaving children with families who are unable to raise them.
SOS Children’s Villages has been giving love, warm homes, and schooling to vulnerable children in Côte d’Ivoire for almost four decades. Local SOS staff report that the charity’s two Children’s Villages are so far unaffected by the current political crisis. But residents worry about an escalation of violence. Ouattara’s supporters have been protesting on the streets and last week four people were killed in clashes in Abidjan.
For security reasons, SOS-Ivory Coast has revised the working hours of its staff in both Abobo-Gare and Aboisso to guarantee that they can get to and from work safely.