Profile

Cote d'Ivoire became a French colony in 1893, and gained its independence in 1960. For more than three decades after independence, Cote d'Ivoire showed remarkable political stability with religious and ethnic harmony and a well-developed economy. All this ended with a military coup in 1999 that overthrew the government. General Guei rigged elections held in late 2000 and declared himself the winner, but popular protest forced him to step aside and brought Laurent Gbagb into power. Dissidents and exiled military personnel launched a failed coup attempt in September 2002 which quickly evolved into a rebellion that split the country into two (rebel-held north and government-controlled south) and escalated into a civil war. In March 2007, a peace deal was signed in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, between Cote d'Ivoire President Gbagbo and the country's rebel leader, Guillaume Soro. Under the accord, the two sides agreed to form a power-sharing government, and Guillaume Soro was appointed as prime minister a few weeks later. Since then, the country has made progress on the road toward reunification, peace, and economic recovery.