Rebel soldiers, pictured here during the Ivorian civil war, dominate the security forces. Divisions among them are the main threat to the stability of the country / IRIN

Red flags in C么te d’Ivoire

Clashes last week between rival elements of C么te d’Ivoire鈥檚 security forces appear to be a destructive extension of a tussle at the highest levels of power. As such, they bode ill as the country gears up for presidential elections in 2020.

On 9 January in Bouak茅 (the country鈥檚 second largest city and between 2002 and 2011, a rebel stronghold), soldiers from a military camp housing the 3rd Battalion attacked and razed the base of the Centre de coordination des d茅cisions op茅rationnelles (CCDO), an elite unit of police and gendarmes. It was the second time the two groups had clashed within the space of a few days. One man was killed in the first incident.

Guillaume Soro, now the speaker of the national assembly, was the leader of the New Forces rebel group during the Ivorian civil war. His presidential ambitions are blamed for the infighting in the country鈥檚 security forces / IRIN

After the mutinies of a year ago, divisions are looming large again within the security forces 鈥 fallout from the jostling taking place within the ruling party. Former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, now the speaker of the national assembly, has retained control over sections of the military. Any presidential ambitions he has do not sit well with President Alassane Ouattara鈥檚 camp.

The two men were at odds during the last few months of 2017 and some of Ouattara鈥檚 associates still have it in for Soro, accusing him of orchestrating last year鈥檚 army mutinies. And while some attribute the latest unrest to a love affair or a dispute over pay, others suggest it is a flare-up in an ongoing power struggle. 鈥淲e are seeing a dangerous game,鈥 political analyst Aboudramane Bamba told IRIN. 鈥淭he army shouldn鈥檛 be manipulated because of one鈥檚 ambitions.鈥 What happened 鈥渋s not insignificant because most of the senior people in government鈥 have placed their men within the army. It makes you wonder whether they won鈥檛 count on them to back their chosen candidate down the line.鈥


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