Self-Determination of Ivory Coast

Article by David D’Amato.

“The UN secretary general,” reports BBC News, “has urged Ivory Coast’s internationally-backed president [Alassane Ouattara] to investigate hundreds of deaths blamed partly on his supporters.” Violence has continued in the western African country since an election last fall resulted in a win for Ouattara, long popular in the country’s rebel-dominated north.

His opponent, the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, declined to vacate the presidency, staying on after the March 24 deadline imposed by the African Union expired. The ineluctable result has been violence and bloodshed in the streets of the country’s urban center, Abidjan, with Gbagbo and his supporters accusing Ouattara’s forces of, among other things, being a cover for French occupation. Regardless of the truth of that claim or the fairness of the contested election, a reexamination of Ivory Coast’s reputation for peace and stability is in order.

With infrastructure and an economy that were the envy of its neighbors for years, the conventional wisdom tells us that civil war shouldn’t be happening in Ivory Coast. For free market anarchists, though, the country’s internal dissension is the predictable result of its statist economic program.

The nation’s “market liberalization,” hailed as a reform model for the rest of Africa and credited with the country’s “economic boom,” was in truth little more than the kind of crafty “privatization” subterfuge so often used to drain a country of its resources for favored elites. In the mid-1990s, a guide to “investing in state-owned enterprises” — a “privatization” handbook published by none other than Ernst & Young — noted that, of the agencies turned over to the “private sector,” “most … [were] industrial or agro-industrial concerns.”

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