Côte d'Ivoire's 1959 constitution provides for strong presidency within the framework of a separation of powers. The executive is personified in the president, elected for a five-year term. The president is commander in chief of the armed forces, may negotiate and ratify certain treaties, and may submit a bill to a national referendum or to the National Assembly. According to the constitution, the President of the National Assembly assumes the presidency in the event of a vacancy, and he completes the remainder of the deceased president's term. The cabinet is selected by and is responsible to the president. Changes are being proposed to some of these provisions, to extend term of office to 7 years, establish a senate, and make president of the senate interim successor to the president.
The unicameral National Assembly is composed of 175 members elected by direct universal suffrage for a 5-year term concurrently with the president. It passes on legislation typically introduced by the president although it also can introduce legislation.
The judicial system culminates in the Supreme Court. The High Court of Justice is competent to try government officials for major offenses.
For administrative purposes, Côte d'Ivoire is divided into 56 departments, each headed by a prefect appointed by the central government. There are 196 communes, each headed by an elected mayor, plus the city of Abidjan with 10 mayors.
The 17,000-man Ivorian Armed Forces (FANCI) include an army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie. The Joint Staff is assigned to the FANCI Headquarters in Abidjan. A two-star officer serves as the chief of staff and commander of the FANCI. Côte d'Ivoire is broken down into five military regions, each commanded by a colonel.
The army has the majority of its forces in the First Military Region concentrated in and around Abidjan, its principal units there being a rapid intervention battalion (airborne), an infantry battalion, an armored battalion, and an air defense artillery battalion. The Second Military Region is located in Daloa and is assigned one infantry battalion. The Third Military Region is headquartered in Bouake and is home to an artillery, an infantry, and an engineer battalion. The Fourth Military Region maintains only a Territorial Defense Company headquartered in Korhogo. The fifth region is the Western Operational Zone, a temporary command created to respond to the security threat caused by the civil war in neighboring Liberia.
The gendarmerie is roughly equivalent in size to the army. It is a national police force which is responsible for territorial security, especially in rural areas. In times of national crisis the gendarmerie could be used to reinforce the army. The gendarmerie is commanded by a colonel-major and is comprised of four Legions, each corresponding to one of the four numbered military regions, minus the temporary military operational zone on the western border.
Côte d'Ivoire has a brown-water navy whose mission is coastal surveillance and security for the nation's 340-mile coastline. It has two fast-attack craft, two patrol crafts, and one light transport ship. It also has numerous smaller vessels used primarily for traffic, immigration, and contraband control within the lagoon system.
The Ivorian Air Force's mission is to defend the nation's airspace and provide transportation support to the other services. Within its inventory are 5 Alpha jets, 12 transport/utility aircraft, and 2 helicopters.
A mutual defense accord signed with France in 1961 provides for the stationing of French forces in Côte d'Ivoire. The 43rd Marine Infantry Battalion is based in Port Bouet adjacent to the Abidjan Airport and has more than 500 troops assigned.
Principal Government Officials
President--Henry Konan Bedie
Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Finance and Plan--Daniel Kablan Duncan
Foreign Minister--Amara Essy
Ambassador to the United States--Moise Koumoue Koffi
Ambassador to the UN--Youssoufou Bamba
Côte d'Ivoire maintains an embassy at 2424 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008 (202-483-2400).
In a region whose political systems have otherwise been noted for lack of stability, Côte d'Ivoire has shown remarkable political stability since its independence from France in 1960. Its relations with the United States are excellent. When many other countries in the region were undergoing repeated military coups, experimenting with Marxism, and developing ties with the Soviet Union and China, Côte d'Ivoire-under Felix Houphouet-Boigny, president from independence until his death in December 1993-maintained a close political allegiance to the West. President Bedie is very familiar with the United States, having served as Côte d'Ivoire's first ambassador to this country.
Looking toward the country's future, the fundamental issue is whether its political system will maintain the stability which is the sine qua non for investor confidence and further economic development. Côte d'Ivoire evolved, with relatively little violence or dislocation, from a single-party state, beginning in 1990. Opposition parties, independent newspapers, and independent trades unions were made legal at that time. Since those major changes occurred, the country's pace of political change has been slow. Whether further democratic reform will take place, adequate to meet future challenges, is unknown. As is generally true in the region, the business environment is one in which personal contact and connections remain important, where rule of law does not prevail with assurance, and where the legislative and judicial branches of the government remain weak. The political system remains highly centralized with the president dominating both the ruling party and the legislature and judiciary. Côte d'Ivoire's efforts to break down central state control of the economy are undermined by the state's continued central control of the political system.
Côte d'Ivoire has a high population growth rate, a high crime rate (particularly in Abidjan), a high incidence of AIDS, a multiplicity of tribes, sporadic student unrest, a differential rate of in-country development according to region, and a dichotomy of religion associated with region and tribe. These factors put stress on the political system and will become more of a problem if the economy-not quite as dependent today on cocoa and coffee as it was some years ago but still dependent-takes a plunge similar to that of the 1980s.
The political system in Côte d'Ivoire is president-dominated. The Prime Minister concentrates principally on coordinating and implementing economic policy. The key decisions-political, military, or economic-continue to be made by President Bedie, as they were made by President Houphouet-Boigny. However, political dialogue is much freer today than prior to 1990, especially due to the opposition press, which vocalizes its criticism of the regime. The Ivorian Constitution affords the legislature some independence, but it has not been widely exercised. Until 1990, all legislators were from the PDCI. After the most recent elections (1995-96), the PDCI continues to hold 149 out of 175 seats. The PDCI's "core" region may be described as the terrain of the Baoule tribe in the country's center, home of both Houphouet-Boigny and Bedie; however, the PDCI is well-entrenched in all parts of Côte d'Ivoire.
The remaining 26 seats in the National Assembly are divided equally by the only two other parties of national scope-the FPI (Ivorian Popular Front) and RDR (Rally of Republicans). The oldest opposition party is the FPI, a moderate party which has a socialist coloration but which is more concerned with democratic reform than radical economic change; it is strongest in the terrain of its Bete tribe leader, Laurent Gbagbo. The non-ideological RDR was formed in September 1994 by former members of the PDCI's reformist wing who hoped that former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara would run and prevail in the 1995 presidential election (but who was disqualified by subsequent legislation requiring 5-year residency); it is strongest in the Muslim north.
The presidential election of October 1995 was boycotted by the FPI and RDR because of Ouattara's disqualification and the absence of an independent electoral commission (among other grievances). Their "active boycott" produced a certain amount of violence and hundreds of arrests (with a number of the arrestees not tried for 2-1/2 years). These grievances remain unaddressed, with the next round of elections coming in the year 2000.
conventional long form: Republic of Côte d'Ivoire
conventional short form: Côte d'Ivoire
local long form: Republique de Côte d'Ivoire
local short form: Côte d'Ivoire
former: Ivory Coast
Data code: IV
Government type: republic; multiparty presidential regime established 1960
note: although Yamoussoukro has been the capital since 1983, Abidjan remains the administrative center; the US, like other countries, maintains its Embassy in Abidjan
50 departments (departements, singular - departement); Abengourou, Abidjan, Aboisso, Adzope, Agboville, Agnibilekrou, Bangolo, Beoumi, Biankouma, Bondoukou, Bongouanou, Bouafle, Bouake, Bouna, Boundiali, Dabakala, Daloa, Danane, Daoukro, Dimbokro, Divo, Duekoue, Ferkessedougou, Gagnoa, Grand-Lahou, Guiglo, Issia, Katiola, Korhogo, Lakota, Man, Mankono, Mbahiakro, Odienne, Oume, Sakassou, San-Pedro, Sassandra, Seguela, Sinfra, Soubre, Tabou, Tanda, Tingrela, Tiassale, Touba, Toumodi, Vavoua, Yamoussoukro, Zuenoula
note: Côte d'Ivoire may have a new administrative structure consisting of 58 departments; the following additional departments have been reported but not yet confirmed by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN); Adiake', Ale'pe', Dabon, Grand Bassam, Jacqueville, Tiebissou, Toulepleu, Bocanda
Independence: 7 August (1960) (from France)
National holiday: National Day, 7 August
Constitution: 3 November 1960; has been amended numerous times, last time July 1998
Legal system: based on French civil law system and customary law; judicial review in the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal
chief of state: Gen. Robert GUEI (since 25 December 1999); note - took power following a military coup against the government of former President Henri Konan BEDIE; president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: Gen. Robert GUEI (since 25 December 1999); note - took power following a military coup against the government of former President Henri Konan BEDIE; president is both chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: prior to the coup, president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 22 October 1995 (next was scheduled to be held by October 2000); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: results of the last election prior to the coup were: Henri Konan BEDIE elected president; percent of vote - Henri Konan BEDIE 95.25%
unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (175 seats; members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: elections last held 27 November 1995 (next to be held NA)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PDCI 150, RDR 13, FPI 12
note: a Senate will be created in the next election
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme)
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire or PDCI [Jean Konan BANNY, acting head]; Ivorian Popular Front or FPI [Laurent GBAGBO]; Ivorian Worker's Party or PIT [Francis WODIE]; Rally of the Republicans or RDR [Henriette DAGRI-DIABATE]; over 20 smaller parties
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, Entente, FAO, FZ, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO (correspondent), ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WADB, WADB (regional), WAEMU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Koffi Moise KOUMOUE-KOFFI
chancery: 3421 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone:  (202) 797-0300
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador George MU
embassy: 5 Rue Jesse Owens, Abidjan
mailing address: 01 B. P. 1712, Abidjan
telephone:  21 09 79, 21 46 72
FAX:  22 32 59
Flag description: three equal vertical bands of orange (hoist side), white, and green; similar to the flag of Ireland, which is longer and has the colors reversed - green (hoist side), white, and orange; also similar to the flag of Italy, which is green (hoist side), white, and red; design was based on the flag of France