Ivory Coast Table of Contents

The Ivoirian armed forces consisted of three services, all small and lightly equipped. With the exception of military training exercises and a small, regional revolt in 1970, as of mid1988 the military had remained in its barracks. It played no role in domestic peacekeeping, in the drive for modernization, or in mobilizing the population. Unlike its counterpart in neighboring states, the Ivoirian officer corps viewed itself as a distinct profession under civilian control. The presence of a French battalion based near Port Bouėt reinforced the importance of maintaining professional norms of service. Moreover, HouphouėtBoigny kept military salaries attractive and named officers to high positions in the PDCI, in effect assimilating the military elite. Greater contact between the civilian elite and military officers led to social integration and completed the co-optation of the military. With a solid stake in the "Ivoirian miracle," the senior officer corps had little interest in altering the status quo. With the passage of time, psychological inertia further institutionalized civilian control, and the civil bureaucracy gained experience, expertise, and confidence.

Many events had the potential to precipitate future military intervention in domestic politics. These would include a stalemate in the Political Bureau of the PDCI over a successor to HouphouėtBoigny , the emergence of an incompetent administration, extreme economic austerity coupled with a declining franc, and widespread unrest led or supported by students, unions, or the urban unemployed. As an institution with an untainted past, the military could, in any of these cases, be called upon to lead a movement promising a return to stability and greater access to economic resources for less favored groups. Nevertheless, given the broadening base of the party, the politics of co-optation, the as yet inchoate class struggle, and the division of peacekeeping responsibility among the Sūreté Nationale and the armed forces, most observers agreed that government control over the military would probably continue.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress