The following is a summary of major developments in Cote d’Ivoire as reported in Ivoirian media on 27 April. The report focused on a request by Mali to purchase electricity from Cote d’Ivoire and speculations over the return of former President Laurent Gbagbo and a recent attack on a military base in Abidjan. The report contained editorial notes aimed at providing context to the major pieces of information.
Mali Requests Additional 50 Megawatts of Electricity Supply from Cote d’Ivoire
On 26 April, President Alassane Ouattara granted an audience to Lamine Seydou Traore, the Malian Minister of Energy, who came to request an additional 50 megawatts of electricity to solve the current power outage in Mali.
Note: Mali has been hit by regular power outages, which have sparked discontent among the population in the capital Bamako and in smaller cities. The Malian transition government has decided, among other solutions, to refund the $330 million of exploitation debt owed by Energie du Mali (EDM) and invest in renewable energy.
Daily Says Former President Gbagbo Likely To Face Justice Upon Return
After the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 31 March cleared former President Gbagbo of charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, his party, the Ivoirian Popular Front (Front Populaire Ivoirien, FPI, in French) has started preparations for his return. However, according to Le Jour Plus, a privately owned daily, Gbagbo is “hesitant” to return despite being in possession of his passports. The daily said that Gbagbo is likely to face the Ivoirian justice over the issue of the “Central Bank (BCEAO) holdup” that occurred during the 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis.
(Source: Le jour Plus, page 3)
Note: Following Gbagbo’s acquittal by the ICC, President Ouattara declared on 7 April that he was free to return anytime he wished and added that the government would facilitate his return. Any new trial of Gbagbo, however, could exacerbate tension among Ivoirians, given that he is a major political stakeholder in Cote d’Ivoire.
Population Raises Questions Following Attack on Military Camp
Allo Police, a weekly newspaper that publishes news on security issues, reported that people living in the vicinity of the N’dotre military barrack in the north of Abidjan raised questions after the recent attack. The source quoted a resident as saying: “We heard shootings throughout the night. In the morning we saw only three dead bodies and one or two injured. In addition to that, how come people who attempted such an adventure only carried machetes mainly? And why did they carry identification papers that could jeopardize them? Something is not clear.”
According to the source, there are rumors that the killed assailants were Liberian inmates from the Sassandra (south west) prison that the security forces allegedly used as cannon fodders in the attack. It quoted Jonas Gaba Daffor, the General Prosecutor of the town of Daloa, who is also in charge of the Sassandra prison as denying the rumors: “A video posted on social media alleged that individuals of Liberian citizenship killed during the attack were inmates from the Sassandra prison where they were detained for drug trafficking.” The prosecutor described the allegations as “unfounded.” He added that “from 2018 to date, the Sassandra prison detained 11 Liberian prisoners including nine who were freed after serving their sentences.”
The source wondered whether Liberia has become a rear base for a rebellion.
Note: Reports said that unidentified gunmen attacked the military barracks of N’Dotre on the night of 20 to 21 April. According to Ivoirian military authorities, the attackers were not “jihadists.” There are growing concerns, however, about jihadi activities in Cote d’Ivoire. On 29 March, unidentified gunmen attacked too small military barracks in the towns of Kafolo and Kolobougou, both located on the border with Burkina Faso.