Council of the Entente

Ivory Coast Table of Contents

The Council of the Entente was established on May 29, 1959, by the heads of state of Côte d'Ivoire, Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso), Dahomey (present-day Benin), and Niger. (Togo became a member in 1966.) Ostensibly, the Council of the Entente coordinated the regulations and statutes of member states governing finance, justice, labor, public service, health, and communications. The Council of the Entente also initiated steps toward forming a customs union, integrating development plans and creating a development fund, the Solidarity Fund (later known as the Loan Guaranty Fund). Each member state was to contribute 10 percent of government revenues to the fund. Côte d'Ivoire, the leader of the Council of the Entente and by far the wealthiest member state, was to receive only a small portion of the redistributed funds; other members were entitled to larger shares. In fact, by 1988 Côte d'Ivoire had never touched its share.

The Council of the Entente helped Houphouët-Boigny achieve his long-term regional foreign policy objectives. First, by allying himself with three desperately poor countries that could be expected to maintain close ties with France for years to come, he built a broader base to counter Senegal's attempts to isolate Côte d'Ivoire and reestablish some sort of federation of West African francophone states that would presumably be centered at Dakar. The demise of the Mali Federation in 1960 appeared to vindicate Houphouët-Boigny's strategy. He subsequently enlisted the Council of the Entente states to isolate the government of Ghana, which had supported a massive antigovernment protest in the Sanwi area of Côte d'Ivoire and was linked to a plot to overthrow Niger's President Hamani Diori. After Ghana's President Kwame Nkrumah was ousted in a 1966 coup, Houphouët-Boigny sought diplomatic support from the Council of the Entente states in his feud with President Ahmed Sekou Touré of Guinea. Sekou Touré routinely accused Houphouët-Boigny of harboring Guinean exiles; he also threatened to send troops across Côte d'Ivoire to Ghana to restore Nkrumah, by then a refugee in Guinea, to power.

By the mid-1980s, populist and nationalist sentiments surging within the Council of the Entente member states threatened Côte d'Ivoire's staid leadership of the alliance. Togo, which was surrounded by radical states, remained a staunch ally; however, Burkina Faso and Benin increasingly criticized Houphouët-Boigny's conservativism and strengthened their ties with Libya and Ghana. As a result, the Council of the Entente's value as an instrument of Ivoirian foreign policy diminished.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress