News / Africa

    Ivory Coast Has New Cabinet, Security Challenges Remain

    Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (C) poses with officials of his new government at the presidential palace in Abidjan, November 22, 2012.
    Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara (C) poses with officials of his new government at the presidential palace in Abidjan, November 22, 2012.
    Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara flexed his political muscles last week when he reshuffled his Cabinet, but analysts say the president's influence over the security sector of the government remains limited.  

    President Ouattara’s decision to dissolve the Cabinet on November 14 took many Ivorians by surprise.  The official explanation was that the president had grown frustrated with allied coalition parties during a dispute over changes to the country’s marriage law.

    But analysts said this dispute was merely a pretext.

    The original Cabinet was named in the aftermath of a six-month post-election conflict.  That crisis erupted after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara in a November 2010 election.

    Some appointees were seen as compromises that Ouattara had to make to consolidate support in what remains a fragile political climate.

    Analysts say the president's new Cabinet is a streamlined version of the first one.

    Ouattara shifted some ministers into new posts and put others in control of multiple ministries. The minister of interior and the acting minister of defense remain the same.

    New Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan also serves as finance minister.  Duncan, like Ouattara, is an economist and is seen as a friend of the president.

    Duncan is not from the president's political party.  He is from the PDCI party, the same one as the former prime minister.  His appointment preserves what some analysts say had become a shaky ruling coalition.

    Samir Gadio, an emerging markets strategist at Standard Bank Plc., says the president is asserting his authority.

    "It's not as if we had a major shift in the composition of the Cabinet," he said. "You have to look at that as some sort of reshaping of the government rather than a significant shift away from what we had previously.  To me, he’s made his point, which is that he is in charge and he will impose the policy directions that he feels necessary going forward."

    Analysts say on the policy front, Ouattara has made significant headway in rebuilding the economy, but he can't afford to stop there.

    The International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report this week that stalled reforms to what it called a "highly disorganized" security sector and a lack of reconciliation with Gbagbo allies remain major threats.

    The new national army, called the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast, has taken the lead on security matters since the conflict ended 18 months ago.

    The army is composed mainly of former members of the New Forces rebel group, which controlled northern Ivory Coast from 2002 to 2010 and staged the 2011 offensive that ousted former president Gbagbo and brought Ouattara to power.

    Human rights groups have accused those soldiers of widespread rights abuses.

    Rinaldo Depagne, senior West Africa analyst for ICG, says the army has sidelined police and the gendarmes who are largely seen to be pro-Gbagbo.  He says Ouattara has limited control over the security sector.

    "It’s difficult for him not to give back something.  And it’s very difficult for him to not have total control of a large chunk of the army coming from the former rebellion," said Depagne. "He has to give them some kind of freedom - not to do what they want, but to be in charge of things that normally they shouldn’t be in charge of."

    The International Crisis Group says President Ouattara faces "fierce resistance" from Gbagbo allies, many of whom are in exile in Liberia and Ghana.

    Ouattara’s government has blamed them for a wave of recent attacks on military positions in Ivory Coast.

    Depagne said it is difficult to see how President Ouattara can put an immediate stop to this.  He said Ghana’s government needs to do more.

    "The situation between the two countries is a little bit dangerous.  Ghana should do more and should not accept people plotting or preparing military plans to destabilize Cote d’Ivoire.  Ghana should not accept this on its soil," said Depagne.

    The ICG report urges President Ouattara’s government to open up dialogue with moderate Gbagbo supporters to promote reconciliation and increase cooperation between various factions in the security sector.  It says otherwise, the government risks repeating mistakes of past governments that could spin the country back into crisis.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.