Côte d'Ivoire Children

Ibrahim Coulibaly, the leader of Invisible Commandos, a militia that helped Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara defeat rival Laurent Gbagbo , was killed in a gun battle on Wednesday .Coulibaly’s ‘Invisible Commando’ insurgents had fought alongside what is now the Ivorian national army to topple Gbagbo, but had been accused of not meeting a deadline to lay down their arms and join the new army.

Ivory Coast

Supporters of Coulibaly had accused Ouattara’s prime minister Guillaume Soro of killing Coulibaly without any provocation.  Coulibaly had a bitter fallout with Soro during the 2002-03 rebellion and since then he had been locked in a bitter and often violent dispute with Soro.

Ibrahim Coulibaly was a very ambitious man. Born in 1964, he started his career as a lowly soldier. His origins in the North , and his basketball talents got him a promotion to the bodyguard unit of Alassane Ouattara when he was the prime minister in the government of Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Ibrahim never looked back . His charisma, boldness, and political dexterity saw him emerge as one of the leading power brokers in Ivory Coast and was involved in numerous coups. However, a series of miscalculations led to a marked decline in his influence and he was forced to lie low during Gbagbo’s regime.

The current conflict gave him a chance to again rise to prominence. He was one of the chief military commanders of the Ouattara forces. His Invisible Commandos, who were reputed to be 5000 strong, played prominent part in military operations against Gbagbo forces in Northern Ivory coast. However, they were often accused of atrocities against civilians.

Coulibaly was increasingly seen as a  liability by the regime due to his violent reputation and aggressive posturing. His death, with or without official acquiescence should come as no surprise.  His death  could  signify the consolidation of power by Ouattara and his removal of potential rivals from the scene. Or more worryingly , it could mark the start of a deadly new phase in Ivory Coast politics where faction fights faction for political supremacy and military leaders considerably weaken and eventually displace Ouattara’s power.

Ivory Coast , long a beacon of stability and prosperity in Africa , certainly does not deserve the second .