Joachim and I enjoyed working with priests, pastors, and other church leaders. Each day began and ended with a prayer. On several occasions, participants came to me and Joachim to say how insightful and practical the training was in terms of developing peacebuilding skills for both an interpersonal and national level. One participant told me, “You should also train decision-makers,” referring to political leaders, including the commissioners of the newly-formed Commission for Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation.
Cote d’Ivoire used to be peaceful and was considered as a model of economic development in West Africa. But the situation changed with the death of former President Félix Houphouët-Boigny in 1993 (he ruled the country from 1960 to 1993). His death left a political vacuum that eventually led to a coup in 1999 and in a rebellion in 2002; political instability and violence culminated in post-election violence in early 2011. After presidential elections in December 2010, The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) declared opposition leader Alassane Ouattara the winner while The Constitutional Council declared incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo the winner. A war ensued and ended in Ouattara's victory and Gbagbo's arrest.
Since the end of the violence, the country is recovering economically and peace initiatives are being taken at both government and civil society levels. I am glad the Karuna Center continues to share its peacebuilding expertise in countries around the world.