"Côte d'Ivoire has entered a renewed period of extreme political instability, accompanied by significant political violence, following a contested presidential election designed to cap an often forestalled peace process. The election was held under the terms of the 2007 Ouagadougou Political Agreement, the most recent in a series of partially implemented peace accords aimed at reunifying Côte d'Ivoire, which has remained largely divided between a government-controlled southern region and a rebel-controlled zone in the north since the outbreak of a civil war in 2002. This instability directly threatens long-standing U.S. and international efforts to support a transition to peace, political stability, and democratic governance in Côte d'Ivoire, among other U.S. objectives. Indirectly at stake are broader, long-term U.S. efforts to ensure regional stability, peace, democratic and accountable state capacity-building and economic growth in West Africa, along with billions of dollars of U.S. foreign aid to achieve these ends. […] On November 28, 2010, a presidential election runoff vote was held between the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, the two candidates who had won the most votes in a first-round October 31, 2010 poll. Both candidates claim to have won the runoff vote and separately inaugurated themselves as president and formed rival governments. […] The electoral standoff has caused a sharp rise in political tension and violence, resulting in many deaths and human rights abuses, and provoked attacks on U.N. peacekeepers. The international community has broadly rejected Gbagbo's electoral victory claim and endorsed Ouattara as the legally elected president, and is using diplomatic and financial efforts, personal sanctions, and a military intervention threat to pressure Gbagbo to step aside."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21989