Military Reform: Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA)

OUAGADOUGOU POLITICAL AGREEMENT 

III. Defence and Security Forces of Côte d'Ivoire

The Parties to this Agreement, recognizing that the national army must be the symbol of the unity and cohesion of the nation and the guarantor of the stability of the institutions of the Republic, have undertaken to restructure and reorganize their two armed forces with a view to the creation of new defence and security forces that are committed to the values of integrity and republican morality.

A special mechanism for the restructuring and reorganization of the army shall be created by law to establish the general framework for the organization, composition and operation of the new defence and security forces. The two Parties have therefore decided to merge their two forces by creating an integrated operational structure.

3.1. Establishment of an Integrated Command Centre (CCI)

3.1.1. In keeping with the spirit of joint handling of issues related to defence and security, the two former belligerent Parties agree to create an Integrated Command Centre for the purpose of integrating the two fighting forces and implementing measures for the restructuring of the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) of Côte d'Ivoire.

3.1.2. The Integrated Command Centre shall adopt its organizational chart and shall be placed under the joint command of the Chief of Staff of the National Defence and Security Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (FANCI) and the Chief of Staff of Forces nouvelles (FAFN). It shall be comprised of equal numbers of officers designated by the two Chiefs of Staff.

Implementation History

2007

Minimum Implementation

The Ouagadougou Political Agreement contained a provision for restructuring and reorganizing two armed forces (Defence and Security Forces (FDS) and Forces Nouvelles) for the creation of a new Defence and Security Forces. For this to happen, the agreement suggested enacting a law for the general framework of the organization, its composition, and its operation. For the integration of the two armed forces, the accord provided for the establishment of an Integrated Command Centre (CCI), comprised of equal numbers of officers designated by two Chiefs of Staff.

In terms of implementing the military reform provision of the agreement, President Laurent Gbagbo signed a decree on 16 March 2007 to create the CCI for the purpose of deploying mixed units comprised of equal numbers of officers from both sides and integrating both armed forces into one.1 The formal establishment of the CCI took place a month later on 16 April.2 After the establishment of CCI, six joint police units consisting of personnel from Forces Nouvelles and FDS were deployed in six different locations by 15 September. By the time of the deployment of these units, the zones of confidence were also dismantled.3

In terms of restructuring and reorganizing the Defence and Security Forces and integrating the two armed forces, both sides finally agreed to integrate 5,000 Forces Nouvelles out of an estimated force of 35,000. This agreement was reached when the two chiefs of staff met on 14 and 17 December 2007 in the presence of the Force Commanders of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), the French Licorne force, and the coordinator of the National Programme for Reintegration and Community Rehabilitation (NPRRC). Due to the absence of an agreement on the number of Forces Nouvelles troops to be integrated into the national army, Forces Nouvelles combatants who were deployed under the joint units had not received their salaries.4

  • 1. “Ivory Coast Takes Step to Unify Military Forces,” New York Times, March 17, 2007; “Fourteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2007/ 593), October 1, 2007.
  • 2. “Fourteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2007/ 593), October 1, 2007.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. “Fifteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2008/1), January 2, 2008.
2008

Minimum Implementation

The strength of the Integrated Command Center, comprised of government and Forces Nouvelles personnel, stood at 587. Among the 587 officers from both sides, 390 were deployed in the former zones of confidence and 197 were based at the headquarters.5 Initially parties could not agree on the number of Forces Nouvelles combatants to be integrated into the new armed force nor the rank to be provided to former Forces Nouvelles combatants. In the end, they reached an agreement on the integration of 5,000 Forces Nouvelles combatants into the new armed force.6 The integration was expected to take place within two years.7

  • 5. “Seventeenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2008/451), July 10, 2008.
  • 6. “Eighteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2008/645), October 13, 2008.
  • 7. “Nineteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2009/21), January 8, 2009.
2009

Intermediate Implementation

The CCI had been established, as provisioned for in the accord, but implementation of other military reform provisions had stalled. Due to financial difficulty, the Integrated Command Center was unable to fully deploy 8,000 personnel (4,000 from the Forces Nouvelles and 4,000 from the Ivorian police and gendarmerie) in mixed brigades.8 Both sides had agreed to integrate 5,000 Forces Nouvelles combatants into the national army; however, the rank harmonization process hindered progress towards integration. Nevertheless, President Gbagbo signed several decrees on 16 November 2009 intended to resolve rank harmonization issues. By a presidential decree, Forces Nouvelles Chief of Staff, General Soumaila Bakayoko, and the Prime Minister’s Military Adviser, Colonel Michel Gueu, were promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General.9 This resolved the technical issue of integrating Forces Nouvelles combatants into the national army.

  • 8. “Twenty-second progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2009/495), September 29, 2009.
  • 9. “Twenty-third progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2010/15), January 7, 2010.
2010

Intermediate Implementation

Some milestones were achieved in terms of implementing military reform provisions after the CCI was established in 2007. However, due to financial difficulty, the Integrated Command Center was unable to fully deploy 8,000 personnel in mixed brigades. Out of these 8,000 personnel, a total of 6,600 were able to be deployed on election day.10 After rank harmonization took place in November 2009, 3,629 Forces Nouvelles combatants were integrated into the new army. Initially, parties had agreed to integrate 5,000 Forces Nouvelles combatants.11

  • 10. “Twenty-sixth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2010/600), November 23, 2010.
  • 11. ““Twenty-sixth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2010/600), November 23, 2010.
2011

Minimum Implementation

The contested presidential election hindered the implementation of military reform provisions, particularly the integration of Forces Nouvelles combatants. As parties effectively returned to full-fledged violence after disputed elections, Defence and Security Forces, including the police and gendarmerie, remained politicized and divided their loyalties between the President and Forces Nouvelles, which changed its name to the Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) on 9 March 2011.12 As the conflict ended with the capture of Mr. Gbagbo, the Ivorian government estimated that there were approximately 40,000 to 60,000 combatants among official armed groups (i.e., the police, gendarmerie, former Republican Guard, FRCI, and CECOS), militias, and foreign armed elements, including Ivorian combatants abroad.13 Because FDS had disintegrated, the government intended to integrate former Forces Nouvelles and FDS — who joined the FRCI during the crisis — into the FRCI.14

  • 12. “Twenty-seventh progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council (S/2011/211), March 30, 2011.
  • 13. “Twenty-ninth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council, (S/2011/807), December 30, 2011.
  • 14. “Twenty-ninth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,” United Nations Security Council, (S/2011/807), December 30, 2011.
2012

Intermediate Implementation

“With the end of the Ivorian election crisis, Alassane Ouattara ordered all militia groups to disarm and join the national army.” Claiming that the FDSI-CI refused to obey the order to disarm, the FRCI launched an assault against the militia stronghold in Abobo and killed the leader Ibrahim Coulibaly.  “In the months following the event, hundreds of members of the FDSI-CI disarmed and joined the national army.”15 

"President Ouattara combined the former rebel Forces Nouvelles (FN) with cooperating elements of the Defense and Security Forces (FDS), the former government’s security forces, into the Republic Forces of Cote d’Ivoire (FRCI), the country’s new official military."16 The overall strength of the FRCI was at 40,000 and it was reported that an additional 40,000 personnel were recruited on an ad hoc basis during the post-election crisis.17

“The Ivoirian government is rebranding the national army to change the force's negative image . . . The name of the current army - Forces Républicaines de Côte d'Ivoire (FRCI), set up in March by President Alassane Ouattara - will revert back to Forces Armées Nationales de Côte d'Ivoire or (FANCI).”18

2013

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2014

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2015

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.