Ivory Coast was a one-party state from independence until 1990, when Felix Houphouet-Boigny, founder and leader of the Ivory Coast Democratic Party, bowed to pressure and legalized opposition parties. Since his death three years later, the country has seen numerous power struggles and civil war. Here's a timeline of key events in the country's history.

 

April 11, 2011

Laurent Gbagbo is arrested  by forces loyal to the country's recognized leader, Alassane Ouattara. Gbagbo was interrogated and taken to the Golf Hotel, where Ouattara had been trying to run his presidency since the Nov. 28 vote. Earlier in the day French tanks advanced toward his bunker, the first time that forces from the former colonial ruler had become involved in the ground operation to oust him.

April 9, 2011

Entrenched strongman Laurent Gbagbo appeared to be gaining ground after his forces broke through the security perimeter imposed around the presidential compound, firing on French forces.

Cmdr. Frederic Daguillon said no French soldiers were injured and a helicopter managed to destroy one armoured vehicle.

April 7, 2011

French forces rescue the Japanese ambassador and seven other Japanese diplomats after militia loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo commandeered the ambassador's residence, France's foreign minister said Thursday.

Meanwhile, rebels aligned with Ivory Coast's internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, continue to surround the presidential compound where Gbagbo and his family are holed up. Ouattara said on TV that he will maintain the blockade and wait for Gbagbo to run out of food and water.

April 5, 2011

Gbagbo tried to negotiate the terms of his surrender  directly with Ouattara, according to officials and diplomats. Earlier, forces trying to install the country's democratically elected leader seized the presidential home. Gbagbo adviser Alcide Djedje, who co-founded Gbagbo's political party and accompanied him to jail decades ago, sought refuge at the French ambassador's residence. Djedje had been serving most recently as Gbagbo's foreign minister.

April 4, 2011

With the help of the international forces, the armed group fighting to install Ouattara pushed their way to the heart of the city to reach Gbagbo's home and surround the presidential palace. The offensive, which included air attacks on the ruler's home as well as three strategic military garrisons, marked an unprecedented escalation in the international community's efforts to oust Gbagbo.

April 3, 2011

French and UN forces secure the airport  in the financial capital of Abijdan, as rival fighters backing Ouattara and Gbagbo, who refuses to acknowledge that he lost the election held in November 2010, mass in the city.

April 2, 2011

Aid agencies report mass killings  in the city of Duekoue, captured by fighters supporting Ouattara. As many as 1,000 people were killed, according to the agencies. An estimated one million people have fled their homes because of fighting between forces loyal to Ouattara and those siding with Gbagbo, who refuses to give up power.

March 30, 2011

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People gather at a station as they leave Abidjan. Rebel forces backing Ivory Coast's internationally-recognized president have been advancing toward the capital. (Emanuel Ekra/AP)

The UN Security Council demands an immediate end to escalating violence in Ivory Coast. The council votes comes five days after France and Nigeria introduced a draft resolution expressing "grave concern" that the west African nation could relapse into civil war. The council imposes sanctions on Gbagbo and his inner circle.

March 4, 2011

Forces loyal to Gbagbo kill at least six women protesters. They were part of a protest by thousands of women who were demanding that he recognize the election results and give up power.

Dec. 31, 2010

Refusing to give up the presidency, Gbagbo criticizes outside intervention in the affairs of Ivory Coast as an attempted coup d'etat.

Dec. 23, 2010

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Forces loyal to presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara rest about 20 kilometres north of Abidjan. (Emmanuel Braun/Reuters)

The UN recognizes Ouattara as Ivory Coast's legitimate leader. The 192-nation world body adopted a resolution by consensus, accepting the credentials of Ouattara's choice for ambassador to the United Nations, veteran diplomat Youssouf Bamba. The assembly also rescinded the credentials of Ivory Coast UN Ambassador Ilahiri Djedje, a Gbagbo supporter.

Dec. 22, 2010

A key opposition leader and former prime minister — Guillaume Soro — called for the international community to use force to oust Laurent Gbagbo from the presidency. France warns its citizens to leave the country.

Dec. 3, 2010

In a stunning reversal, the president of Ivory Coast's Constitutional Council, Paul Yao N'Dr, says the votes in seven districts should not have been counted because the votes were tainted by intimidation and violence. The districts were considered strongholds for opposition candidate Ouattara. The new results declare incumbent Laurent Gbagbo as the winner. Angry demonstrators take to the streets of Abidjan.

Dec. 2, 2010

The head of Ivory Coast's electoral commission declares opposition leader Alassane Ouattara the winner of the presidential election. Election commission chief Youssouf Bakayoko said Ouattara had won with 54.1 per cent of the vote, compared to 45.9 per cent for incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, after days of backroom wrangling, during which the ruling party had physically prevented other commission members from announcing the outcome of the vote.

Nov. 28, 2010

The second round of voting is held.

Oct. 31, 2010

The first round of the presidential election is held. If none of the candidates - the three major ones were Gbagbo, Ouattara and Henri Konan Bédié - emerges with a majority of votes, a second round will be held with the top two candidates squaring off. Gbagbo secures 38 per cent of the vote, Ouattara gets 32 per cent and Bédié trails with 25 per cent.

Bédié throws his support behind Ouattara.

Nov. 11, 2009

The election is delayed yet again, due to problems with the voters' lists.

Ivory Coast: quickfacts

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  • Population: 17,298,040
  • Life expectancy at birth: 48.6 years
  • GDP per capita: $1,800
  • External debt: $11.6 billion (2010 est.)
  • Main exports: cocoa beans, coffee, and palm oil

Source: CIA World Factbook

May 15, 2009

After years of delays, the election date is set for Nov. 29, 2009.

March 4, 2007

Rebels and government sign a peace deal. Rebel leader Guillaume Soro becomes prime minister.

Jan. 18, 2006

Four protesters are killed after government supporters storm a UN base. UN officials say peacekeepers were forced to open fire on the demonstrators. The demonstrators claimed foreigners were meddling in Ivorian affairs. Seven thousand UN and 4,000 French troops had been trying to implement the terms of a 2003 ceasefire between the government and rebels.

October 2005

President Laurent Gbagbo delays planned presidential elections.

June 24, 2005

The UN commits more peacekeepers to Ivory Coast, two months after the government and rebels declared a final end to hostilities.

December 2004

Parliament abolishes requirement that both parents of a presidential candidate must be Ivorian.

Nov. 15, 2004

The UN imposes an arms embargo on Ivory Coast.

Nov. 6, 2004

Nine French peacekeepers and an American civilian die in a military air strike. The government says the attack was a mistake. France retaliates by knocking out two Ivorian warplanes and five helicopter gunships.

April 19, 2004

A journalist with French and Canadian citizenship, Guy-André Kieffer, is reported missing. He was working for the France-based Letter of the Continent. He was reportedly investigating the government's alleged involvement in money laundering and the cocoa industry. He has not been seen since.

March 25, 2004

Opposition groups withdraw from the government after 25 people are killed in clashes in Abidjan. The violence is the worst since the civil war broke out in September 2002. By the next day, more than 100 people would die in the clashes.

Aug. 26, 2003

Two French peacekeepers are shot and killed by rebels in the northern part of the country. They are the first combat deaths for the 4,000 French peacekeepers sent in after the civil war.

July 2003

All sides declare that the civil war is officially over.

March 2003

Agreement is reached on a government of national unity that will include nine rebels in senior posts.

Jan. 23, 2003

A peace deal is signed in Paris between the Ivory Coast government and rebel forces.

Sept. 24, 2002

The U.S. sends 200 troops to Ivory Coast to protect Americans and other foreigners as clashes between rebels and loyalists continue. The rebels would control much of the northern part of the country. Clashes continued until January.

Sept. 19, 2002

General Robert Guei leads a mutiny involving hundreds of soldiers while President Gbagbo is on a visit to Rome. The attempt to overthrow the government fails and Guei is killed in the first day of fighting.

October 2001

President Gbagbo sets up a National Reconciliation Forum. Guei refuses to attend after one of his aides is arrested.

March 2001

Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, a Muslim, meet for the first time since post-election violence six months earlier. They pledge to work towards reconciliation.

Jan. 8, 2001

An attempted coup fails to overthrow Gbagbo.

Oct. 27, 2000

Gbagbo promises reconciliation after meeting with Ouattara.

Oct. 26, 2000

Gbagbo is declared winner of the election and the country's new president. Ouattara calls for a new election in which he'd be a candidate. Street protests that erupted over the previous few days have left 80 people dead.

Oct. 24, 2000

Violence erupts after Guei declares himself the winner of the election. Early returns had shown his opponent, Gbagbo, building a lead.

Oct. 22, 2000

Ivorians go to the polls in a presidential election. The country's supreme court disqualified most of the candidates for not being Ivorian enough.

July 25, 2000

The country approves Guei's new constitution in a referendum. Among its provisions: both parents of anyone running for president have to be born in Ivory Coast and anyone involved in the previous year's military coup would be immune from prosecution.

Dec. 28, 1999

Guei pledges to rewrite Ivory Coast's constitution and to restore democracy.

Dec. 23, 1999

President Henri Konan Bédié is overthrown in a miliary coup. He eventually leaves for France. Guei names himself acting president.

July 1999

Ethnic tensions increase as Ouattara returns to Ivory Coast after leaving his job at the International Monetary Fund to begin his campaign for president in elections scheduled for the following year. His opponents, including Bédié, say he's not Ivorian.

October 1995

Konan Bédié easily wins re-election. In the months that follow, he tightens his hold on power, jailing several hundred political opponents. Among the changes he institutes to control the opposition is the notion of "Ivorianness." Under the policy, if one parent was born outside Ivory Coast, a person would not have full rights of citizenship. The move increased ethnic tensions: Ivory Coast had been dependent on immigrant labour for decades. Many had settled in the northern party of the country.

Dec. 7, 1993

Felix Houphouet-Boigny, founder and leader of the Ivory Coast Democratic Party, dies. Bédié — his hand-picked successor — becomes the Ivory Coast's second president.

1990

Houphouet-Boigny bows to pressure and legalizes opposition parties. The move followed strikes by hundreds of civil servants and student protests against government corruption.

Aug. 7, 1960

France grants independence to Ivory Coast. Houphouet-Boigny assumes presidency after winning the country's first election. The independent country becomes a one-party state.

1958

Ivory Coast becomes a republic, part of the French Federation of West Africa.

1893

France makes Ivory Coast a colony.