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Countdown to violence in Cote D’Ivoire?

Countdown to violence in Cote D’Ivoire?

After two weeks of stalemate, the political controntation in Cote D’Ivoire is finally moving — in the very, very wrong direction. Last month, opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara won a presidential election — but incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to leave. In recent days, the two have set up rival headquarters, named rival cabinets, and claimed rival military forces for their protection. Now it seems, the stage is set for a showdown.

Earlier today, troops loyal to Gbagbo surrounded Ouattara’s headquarters at a local hotel. Now, Ouattara has set a date — Dec. 17 — on which his own loyal forces will attempt to take the government offices away from Gbagbo. 

Ouattara is likely trying to put pressure on Gbagbo to step down — something that the international community has also been trying for the last two weeks. The European Union, for example, today announced sanctions on Gbagbo’s government. Cote D’Ivoire has already been kicked out of the African Union and the regional economic grouping ECOWAS, until the crisis is resolved. 

Unfortunately, Gbagbo remains unyielding. Most every news report has been reminding readers about just how volatile the country remains, and just how real the possibility is that it could slip back into war. It looks more and more like this is not a case of crying wolf.