Today, forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara have taken Laurent Gbagbo from his home and into their custody. It is not clear if Gbagbo was arrested by French troops or by Ouattara’s forces but it is clear the French played some role in facilitating Gbagbo’s capture. Gbagbo was President of the Ivory Coast for more than a decade until losing an election last fall to Ouattara. However, Gbagbo refused to cede power. I guess this means Ouattara will soon take office.
Of course, it isn’t so cut and dry. Last week, here at The American Spectator, Roger Kaplan wrote an excellent analysis of the conflict in which both sides have blood on their hands. The Ivory Coast gained independence from France more than fifty years ago but has struggled since the death of its first leader Felix Houphouet Boigny in 1993.
In its simplest terms, the southern part of the Ivory Coast is loyal to Gbagbo and is predominantly Roman Catholic while the northern part supports Ouattara and is predominantly Muslim. Perhaps the best possible means to avert a full scale civil war would be to partition the country along these lines. It will be interesting to see what happens when Southern Sudan formally secedes from Sudan and becomes an independent nation in July. If things work in Southern Sudan (and it is a big if) then perhaps it could serve as a model in alleviating further conflict in the Ivory Coast.