In March of 2011, a contested presidential election in Cote d’Ivoire lead to politically motivated violence as well as opportunistic rioting throughout the country. As the militaries/ militias of both presidential candidates attacked their opponent’s supporters the country feel into disarray.
On one side of the line was the standing president, Laurent Gbagbo, a Christian; on the other side was Alassane Ouattara, a Muslim. The population of Cote d’Ivoire is roughly divided 50/ 50 between adherents of both of these religion. International governing bodies felt that Ouattara actually won the election by a small margin, but Gbagbo refused to step down. The result was the Second Ivorian Civil War, a conflict in which thousands were killed, populations slaughtered, and hundreds of thousands turned into refugees. Massive civil rights abuses were committed by all sides of the conflict, which eventually ended when Gbagbo was arrested, his troops defected, and Ouattara claimed the presidency in full.
Andy Lee Graham of Hobotraveler.com was in Cote d’Ivoire for the period leading up to the outbreak of mass violence and witnessed the situation both from the perspective of a traveler as well as through the eyes of an Ivorian Christian family that he had a close relationship with. The following podcast is Andy’s experiences of witnessing a country on the brink of civil war as well as his perceptions of the broader ramifications of the conflict.