Some elements of the Ivorian crisis



Four texts are at the heart of the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire that began on 28 November 2010: the Electoral Code, the Constitution and, lest we forget, the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. We are including some key excerpts from these texts and a few maps that we hope will inform your analysis of the situation.


Legal texts | Results | Viewpoints | Maps | Key documents


Legal texts

Electoral Code (translated from the original French version)

  • Art. 59. - The Electoral Commission in charge of the carries out the vote counting and proclaims the provisional election results in the presence of the candidates’ representatives. Three copies of the minutes and supporting documents are submitted to the Electoral Commission. The latter collects and proclaims the provisional results in the presence of the candidates’ representatives. The Electoral Commission provides the Constitutional Council with a copy of the minutes and supporting documents within three days after the election. Other copies of the minutes are kept in the archives of the Electoral Commission in the administrative district, of the National Electoral Commission, and of the Ministry of the Interior.
  • Art. 60. - Any candidate for the election of the President of the Republic may submit a claim by written request to the President of the Constitutional Council regarding the legality of the election or recount. The petition must be filed within three days after the closure of the poll.
  • Art. 61. The applicant must attach documents submitted in support of his methods to his application. The Constitutional Council, after consideration of the request, decides within seven days of referral. However, the council may, without prior contradictory instructions, reject claims containing only inadmissible or manifestly unfounded claims over the disputed election.
  • Art. 62. - The review of complaints is done by the Constitutional Council within seven days from the date of receipt of the minutes.
  • Art. 63. - The final outcome of the presidential election is proclaimed, after consideration of complaints, by the Constitutional Council and published under the emergency procedure.
  • Art 64. - If the Constitutional Council finds serious irregularities that vitiate the fairness of elections and affect the overall result, it annuls the election. The new election date is fixed by the Council of Ministers upon proposal by the Electoral Commission. The vote will take place no later than forty five days from the date of the Constitutional Council’s decision.



The Constitution (translated from the original French version)


Art. 88. The Constitutional Council shall determine the constitutionality of laws.
It is the organ regulating the functioning of government.


Art. 94. The Constitutional Council controls the legality of referendums and announces the results. The Council shall decide on:

  • The eligibility of candidates for presidential and legislative elections;
  • Disputes relating to the election of the President of the Republic and deputies. The Constitutional Council announces the final results of presidential elections.


ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance

Supplementary to the Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security
Section II – Elections:

  • Article 9: The party and/or candidate who loses the elections shall concede defeat to the
    political party and/or candidate finally declared the winner, following the
    guidelines and within the deadline stipulated by the law.
  • Article 45 :

1. In the event that democracy is abruptly brought to an end by any means
or where there is massive violation of Human Rights in a Member State,
ECOWAS may impose sanctions on the State concerned.

2. The sanctions which shall be decided by the Authority may take the
following forms, in increasing order of severity:

  • Refusal to support the candidates presented by the Member State
    concerned for elective posts in international organisations;
  • Refusal to organise ECOWAS meetings in the Member State concerned;
  • Suspension of the Member State concerned from all ECOWAS decisionmaking
    bodies. During the period of the suspension the Member State
    concerned shall be obliged to pay its dues for the period.

3. During the period of suspension, ECOWAS shall continue to monitor, encourage and support the efforts being made by the suspended Member State to return to normalcy and constitutional order;

4. On the recommendation of the Mediation and Security Council, a decision may be taken at the appropriate time to proceed as stipulated in Article 45 of the Protocol of 10th December 1999.

Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security

Article 3: Objectives of the Mechanism

The objectives of the Mechanism shall be as follows:

a) prevent, manage and resolve internal and inter-State conflicts under the conditions provided in Paragraph 46 of the Framework of the Mechanism ratified as per Decision A/DEC.11/10/98 of 31 October 1998;


Article 25: Conditions for Application

The Mechanism shall be applied in any of the following circumstances:

  • In cases of aggression or conflict in any Member State or threat thereof;
  • In case of conflict between two or several Member States;
  • In case of internal conflict:

a) that threatens to trigger a humanitarian disaster, or

b) that poses a serious threat to peace and security in the sub-region;

  • In event of serious and massive violation of human rights and the rule of law.
  • In the event of an overthrow or attempted overthrow of a democratically elected
  • Any other situation as may be decided by the Mediation and Security Council.



Charter of the United Nations


Chapter VII : Action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of agression

Article 41
The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.


Article 42
Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.



According to provisional results announced by Youssouf Bakayoko, the president of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) on Thursday, 2 December 2010 at the Golf Hotel, Alassane Ouattara won 2,483,164 votes or 54.10% of the votes cast. Laurent Gbagbo, Presidential Majority (LMP) candidate and the outgoing president, is credited with 2,107,055 votes or 45.90% of the votes cast. The CEI announced that it submitted the registered and validated results along with all of the minutes of vote counting and supporting documentation to the Constitutional Council, in accordance with applicable law. Final results declared by the President of the Constitutional Council, Paul Yao N'Dré, the following day, 3 December 2010, put Gbagbo in the lead with 51.45% of votes.

The difference is explained by the cancellation of almost 600,000 votes from seven departments in the north (> see map and table) by the Constitutional Council "because of serious irregularities in the integrity of the poll: [...] lack of representatives and delegates in the polling locations; stuffing of ballot boxes, transportation of records by unauthorized persons; suppression of voters, lack of voting booths; added votes."

The election was monitored by 6,486 national and 816 international observers, including 120 from the EU and 645 national and international journalists. According to observers, the elections took place in a "broadly satisfactory" and "democratic" climate.


  • 1st round: 80%
  • 2nd round: 71.28% (according to the Constitutional Council), 79.3% according to CEI


Results published by the Constitutional Council

Results of the second round in the seven departments invalidated for voter fraud by the Constitutional Council on December 3, 2010:

Source: resultats published on

  • Votes from 7 departments cancelled: 597 010 = 13% of total votes (4,590,219)
  • Pro-Gbagbo votes cancelled: 52 438 = 2.49% of Gbagbo’s total votes (2,107,055)
  • Pro-Ouattara votes cancelled: 544,492 = 21.93% of Ouattara’s total votes (2,483,164)


  • Constitutional Council: "Considering that under the article 44 paragraph 3 of the Electoral Code, amended by the Ordinance No. 2008-133 of 14 April 2008 on the adjustments to the Electoral Code, the election of the President of the Republic is decided by a majority of the votes cast, DECIDES:
    Article 1: The motions of the candidate Laurent Gbagbo are admissible but only partially founded;
    Article 2: The results of the poll in the departments of Bouake, Korhogo, Ferkessedougou, Katiola Boundiali Dabakala and Seguela are canceled;
    Article 3: Mr. Laurent Gbagbo is declared elected President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire;"
    > text translated from original French version
  • Guillaume Soro on the role of the Constitutional Council: "It is certainly their responsibility to rule on the legality of an election, but they cannot in any case engage in vote-counting and declare a winner on that basis.” 20/01/2011 at 4:16. Interview by François Soudan, Jeune Afrique 
  • Youssouf Bakayoko, Président de la CEI"They (the Constitutional Council) have overstepped their rights as the Constitutional Council had only two choices: accept the results announced by the CEI or, if they believe there has been fraud, invalidate the whole election and hold a new election. There is no other alternative and they cannot mangle the results simply by cancelling those seven regions favourable to Ouattara. For this presidential election, postponed constantly since 2005, it was also agreed - and this is exceptional - that the UN would have the final word top certify the election and his word is above that of the Constitutional Council." Interview by Bruno Fanuccho.



Ethnolinguistic areas

Côte d'Ivoire has over 60 different ethnic groups that belong to four major language areas:

  • In the southeast, the Akan / Baule group (Kwa languages), which also occupies southwestern Ghana;
  • In the southwest, the Kru / Bete group (Kru languages), also present in the south-eastern Liberia;
  • In the northeast, the Malinke (voltaic languages), the main occupants of Burkina Faso and northern Ghana;
  • In the northwest, the Mande group (Mande languages), present in eastern Guinea, western Mali and northern Liberia.

Transcending national boundaries, these spaces are a useful reference point but are under no circumstances sufficient to analyse the Ivorian situation. Ivorian urban areas are diverse, hosting a mix of all ethnic groups.


Settlement dynamics

Côte d'Ivoire is at the epicenter of the accelerated restructuring of the West African population. Over the past six decades, the country's total population has been multiplied by 9, - the rural by 5 and the urban by 44. These figures do not compare with those of its neighbours (> table).


These differences are explained by regional migration but also by very high internal mobility. The South and its coast, rather than Côte d’Ivoire as such, is the attraction. In the 70s, the birth and development of the city of San Pedro was due to migrants from Mali and Upper Volta as well as from indigenous Kru and Ivorians from the north and east of the country. The Daloa department's population is one third indigenous (mainly Bete), one third from another Ivorian region (mainly Baoulé Central West and Malinke / Northern Senufo) and one third from Sahelian countries (1998 figures). In contrast, the northern cities are overwhelmingly populated by indigenous peoples. Even those located near a border, such as Odienné and Korhogo, have less than 5% immigrants and foreigners.

North and South


The creation in 2002 of a ceasefire line between the “Forces Nouvelles” and the national armed forces cut the country in two. This line also separates the ‘savanna’ Côte d’Ivoire from the forest, and cocoa/coffee from the cotton region. The urban and road networks are much more developed in the south than in the north.

The "wealth" of the south is also symbolized by the port of Abidjan. But is it truly the port of the south? It was always meant to radiate far beyond southern Côte d’Ivoire. However, this influence is not immutable. The performance drop of the port and problems of maladministration on the country roads have undermined Abidjan’s monopoly. Moreover, this corridor is not the only one available for the Sahelian countries to access markets for their products and to have access to a supply of goods.


Access to seaports for landlocked countries


Bamako has access to three ports that are at an almost equal distance: Dakar (1200 km via Kayes), Conakry (950 km via Kankan) and Abidjan (1100 km via Bouaké). Bamako is only connected by rail to Dakar, but the railway is in poor condition. The trip to Conakry is delayed by the difficult crossing of the Fouta Djallon.

Similarly, Ouagadougou has several access to the sea: Abidjan, Accra (Tema) and Lomé. The connection with Abidjan is by both road and rail. The other two are by road only and are in fair condition. Any period of crisis in Côte d'Ivoire boosts the development of alternative corridors.



Key documents


Côte d’Ivoire

  • Electoral Code (French)
  • Constitution of Côte d'Ivoire (French)
  • Ordonnance No 2008-133, 14 April 2008, on adjustments of the Electoral Code on the elections to favour a peaceful exit of the crisis (French)
  • Decision No CI-2009-EP)28/19-11/CC/SG, by the Constituional Council relating to the publication of the list of candidates for the presidential election (French)
  • Decision No CI-2010-EP-34/03-12/CC/SG on the announcement of final results of the presidential election of 28 November 2010, in the name of the people of Côte d’Ivoire (French)


United Nations

  • UN Charter, chapter VII
  • Security Council resolution 1911 (2010), on extension of the mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire
  • UN resolution 1967 (2011), increasing the number of UN forces by 2000, 19 January 2011




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