Catalyst to the conflict
The catalyst for the conflict was the law quickly drafted by the government and approved in a referendum immediately before the elections of 2000 which required both parents of a presidential candidate to be born within Côte d'Ivoire. This excluded the northern presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara from the race. Ouattara represented the predominantly Muslim north, particularly the poor immigrant workers from Mali and Burkina Faso working on coffee and cocoa plantations.
Beginning of the civil war
Troops, many of whom originated from the north of the country, mutinied in the early hours of 19 September 2002. They launched attacks in many cities, including Abidjan. By midday they had control of the north of the country. Their principal claim relates to the definition of who is a citizen of Ivory Coast (and so who can stand for election as President), voting rights and their representation in government in Abidjan. On the first night of the uprising, former president Robert Guéi was killed. There is some dispute as to what actually happened that night. The government said he had died leading a coup attempt, and state television showed pictures of his body in the street. However, it was widely claimed that his body had been moved after his death and that he had actually been murdered at his home along with fifteen other people. Alassane Ouattara took refuge in the French embassy, and his home was burned down.
Attacks were launched almost simultaneously in most major cities; the government forces maintained control of Abidjan and the south, but the new rebel forces had taken the north and based themselves in Bouake.
Laurent Gbagbo considered deserters from the army, supported by interference from Burkina Faso, as the cause of destabilization.
Opening moves: Sept 19th 2002.
FN forces begin their advance into Northern Cote D'Ivoire. Several army units have rebelled against the current Government. As you can see in the southern part of the country, several FN - units are in control of several towns in the south.