Africa Notes: Keeping the Peace in Cote d'Ivoire: UN Operation a Critical Step in Stabilizing West African Subregion - Februa
February 4, 2004
On November 29, 2003, elements of the Ivorian army loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo mounted an assault on the northern town of Bouaké, aimed at liberating the city from its rebel occupiers. Spearheading the attack were members of pro-Gbagbo militant groups, many of them bused in from Abidjan. This motley assortment of civilians and soldiers departed from southeast of Bouaké in a column that included Ivorian army vehicles. To reach the rebel stronghold, they first had to cross the “zone of confidence,” an area off-limits to both armed rebels and government forces since the January 2003 Marcoussis accords split the country in half. But the attempt to reach Bouaké failed, as heavily armed French forces repelled the government loyalists, averting a possible return to war.