Cote d’Ivoire is one of 17 African nations celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence this year. On August 7, 1960, the country solidified its autonomy and broke ties with the French government.
Once a dominant force in West Africa and the leading producer of cocoa in the world, the country has faced a plethora of conflicts in the last 10 years. A stagnant economy, absence of elections, a culture of impunity, civil war, and rebel uprisings have proven detrimental to the development of the country. This could all change, however, as reforms begin to take shape.
Elections that had been delayed since 2005 have now been set for October 31st of this year. While political will of the major actors remains a concern, as previous announcements of election dates have not been honored, the country’s Prime Minister, Guillaume Soro has claimed that all foreseeable difficulties are nearly resolved.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted in a recent written statement, the United States "supports the people of Cote d’Ivoire’s aspirations for a renewed democracy, and we share your eagerness for elections that will help move the country beyond political stalemate to lasting unity. Political stability and the rule of law are vital building blocks for a prosperous and sustainable future."
A free and fair election is an important step towards the resolution of Cote d’Ivoire’s political crisis, but building lasting peace will require efforts from Ivoirian citizens and leaders that go beyond holding elections. Social services, economic diversification and corruption are ongoing challenges that Ivoirian leaders will have to address.
The United States congratulates the country for these developments. "Cote d’Ivoire has made great progress in the last few years in resolving the complex challenges that come with a diverse population," says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "On this historic occasion, you can reflect with pride on the tolerance, hard work and determination that helped your country become a leader in West Africa."