Felix Houphouet Boigny 33 Year Rule And The Present Day Ivory Coast

Cote d’Ivore or better known as Ivory Coast is located on the west of Africa with Yamoussoukro being its capital city as Abidjan serves as the economic capital and the largest city. The French and Portuguese who came to Ivory Coast via the Atlantic Ocean in the 15th century divided the West Coast of Africa into 4 coasts depending on the economic activity of that place. There was slave coast that comprised of Nigeria, Togo, and Benin Republic, The Gold coast which was Ghana, and the Grain Coast Liberia, and so Coe d’Ivore got its name Ivory Coast courtesy of the trading business of elephant ivories along that coast.

Ivory Coast attained its independence in the year 1960 and Felix Houphouet Boigny became the first President.  Boigny was born in the year 1908 in Yamoussoukro. Coming from a background that practiced cocoa farming Boigny rose to political prominence by first forming a lobby group by the name Syndicate Agricole African (SAA) whose function was to defend farm workers and labor interests. He was later elected as a delegate from Cote D’Ivore in the French constituent assembly. Boigny formed the first political party in Ivory Coast called Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) which became part of (RDA) “Rassemblement Democratique African”.

Picture taken in 1960 of President of the Ivory Coast Felix Houphouet-Boigny.

As Ivory Coast President, Houphouet Boigny maintained a strong anti- communist foreign policy and even moved the country’s capital from Abidjan to his hometown in Yamoussoukro where he built the biggest church in the world known as the Basilica. With Agriculture interest high on his priorities, he transformed Ivory Coast’s economic productivity and turned it to be one of the countries that is the biggest producer of coffee, and cocoa. Boigny’s government never entertained opposition and so whoever criticized his government was jailed and even tortured. Boigny maintained a good friendship with the French Government in his 33 year rule. Boigny started to face criticism for spending millions of money in building his homes and also transforming Yammoussoukro. His reign opposed Multi- partism which further escalated the protests in Ivory Coast. The unrest in the country turned to civil war which forced the government to give in to the demands of the citizens in 1990. Felix Houphouet Bougny died in 1993 while he was still the head of state.

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Henri Conan Bedie replaced Houphouet Boigy as Ivory Coast’s second President in 1993 and ruled for 6 years before he was ousted courtesy of a coup that was orchestrated by a lobby group who criticized his regime for heightening ethnic divisions and being corrupt. General Robert Guei was put in charge as the acting President before Laurent Gbagbo was elected in the following year. Allasane Outarra is the current Ivory Coast President having taken power in 2010.

Ivory coast remains to be the World’s largest cocoa producer. It also has the largest Church in the world the Basilica our lady of peace in Yammousoukre, it is bigger than the St. Peters Basilica and can hold up to 18, 000 people at a go. Ivory coast is also home to football talents having participated and won in the Africa Cup of Nations (CAF). It is famous for nurturing world talents like Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure, Eric Baily, Gervinho and many others.

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