Seeking Democracy in Côte d’Ivoire:
Overcoming Exclusionary Citizenship
Publication Date: November 2017
In Côte d’Ivoire, President Houphouët-Boigny (1960 to 1993) maintained political stability despite intermittent violence between ethnic and religious groups in the north and the south, in part by including members from different ethnic groups in all levels of government. This policy ended with the introduction of multiparty politics in 1993. Political leaders exploited group-based tensions to mobilize followers and, once in power, used state institutions to frame and enforce an exclusionary national narrative—political practices that ultimately led the country into civil war. What accounts for Côte d’Ivoire’s exclusionary turn in 1993? What opportunities were missed to create a more peaceful and inclusive political process? What does Côte d’Ivoire’s experience tell us about democratic transitions in divided societies?