Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ivory Coast, Disarmament, and the Dozos

This first appeared on John Campbell's Africa in Transition.
As Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara embarks on a long and difficult process of national reconciliation after the divisive elections of November 2011 that led to four months of violence, the role of Dozos, a multinational fraternity of game hunters that participates in some traditional West African cult practices, complicates the process, especially in the western border regions.

Villages in Ivory Coast began employing Dozos to provide security in response to rising crime rates in the early 1990s. In general, they were viewed as a stabilizing force, providing protection when and where the police could not. In return, they were paid cash, allowed to hunt on private property, and even provided land to cultivate crops.

However, as Amnesty recently reported (see my blog post earlier this week), the Dozos have been implicated in atrocities alongside forces loyal to President Ouattara  in southwestern Ivory Coast, which generally supported defeated president Laurent Gbagbo in the November 2011 elections.

IRIN news service reports that Ouattara’s government has publicly asked for assistance from Dozos in providing security. But Dozos are irregulars, not subject to, nor accepting of, military discipline.  Further, they are not indigenous to the areas where they have now established themselves and where refugees and internally displaced persons are likely to return.  It is unclear how the Ouattara government will deal with them or what their future will be. But, they will certainly complicate the Ivorian process of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of irregular fighters left over from a decade of political instability and civil war.

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