History December 07, 2018 at 08:00 am

Five things Ivory Coast’s first president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, will be remembered for

Nduta Waweru December 07, 2018 at 08:00 am

December 07, 2018 at 08:00 am | History

Photo: Trip Down Memory Lane

He was involved in a number of coups in other African countries.

Houphouët-Boigny has mentioned adversely in a number of coups in Africa. The first was an attempt to overthrow Guinea’s Sekou Toure for his disregard of the French.  In 1967, he promoted the creation of the Front national de libération de la Guinée (the National Front for the Liberation of Guinea), a reserve of soldiers ready to plot Toure’s downfall.

He would also be mentioned in the ouster of Nkrumah, with whom he had fallen out over the latter’s support of Toure. Houphouët-Boigny not only accused Nkrumah of trying to destabilise his country, but he also called for the boycott of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) meeting in Accra in 1963.

In 1966, Houphouët-Boigny allowed the conspirators of Nkrumah’s ouster to use his country as the base for their missions.

He would not stop there. He took part in the attempted coup of 16 January 1977 to get rid of Mathieu Kérékou of Benin and supported Angola’s Jonas Savimbi in a battle that led to the Angola civil war of 1975.

This president was also mentioned in the overthrow of Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara, with whom he had had a tumultuous relationship. He was known to be a close friend of Blaise Compaore, who took over the presidency upon Sankara’s death.

His last involvement in a coup was in Liberia, where he oversaw the ouster of President Samuel Doe who had killed and deposed Houphouët-Boigny’s friend and in-law, William Tolbert.  According to former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman J. Cohen:

On Christmas Eve 1989, a group of about 200 guerrilla fighters crossed the border from Côte d’Ivoire into Liberia and began an insurgency designed to overthrow President Doe. The insurgency was promoted and financed by Houphouët, supported logistically by Burkina president Compaore, and supplied by Libyan “leader” Muammar Gaddafi. The guerrillas marched toward the capital city of Monrovia, picking up additional fighters along the way, as President Doe’s army responded with the burning of villages and the perpetration of massive human rights atrocities.

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