Ivory Coast Table of Contents
The academic community was the most vocal protest group. The first sign of difficulty occurred in 1982, when the union of students went on strike to protest government efforts to halt political speeches on the National University of Côte d'Ivoire campus. Houphouët-Boigny responded in his typical paternalistic fashion: he chastised the students, dissolved their movement, and forced them to return to their villages until they all had apologized in writing to the government. Laurent Gbagbo, a young professor who during the strike spoke out on the need for a multiparty system, went into voluntary exile in France and became a symbol for young Ivoirians who wanted to liberalize the ruling party.
Further disturbances occurred in 1983, when approximately 4,000 secondary-school teachers, members of the National Union of Secondary School Teachers of Côte d'Ivoire (Syndicat National des Enseignants du Secondaires de Côte d'Ivoire--SYNESCI), went on strike to protest the elimination of their housing allowances. Their strike was also an expression of solidarity with those students and professors who had protested over issues of free speech the year before and, more significant, had voiced their basic opposition to Houphouët-Boigny. Because the teachers' union was the only union independent of the PDCI (SYNESCI refused to affiliate with the official government union), the government dissolved the union during the strike. In addition, the teachers complained that Houphouët-Boigny had unfairly penalized them and ignored cabinet members who, they alleged, had mismanaged the economy. Reacting once again in an arbitrary manner that further alienated teachers and students alike, Houphouët-Boigny closed all the secondary schools and sent the 200,000 students home.
Data as of November 1988