Ivory Coast profile
President : Alassane Ouattara
Alassane Ouattara was internationally recognised as the winner of the presidential election in November 2010, but the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to give up power and had to be removed by force.
The poll was meant to draw a line under a 2002-03 civil war which left the country split in two, but it led to a stalemate lasting more than four months.
Mr Gbagbo, who had been in power for 10 years and several times delayed elections, claimed victory in the 2010 poll and held onto power, helped by his militia but isolated by the international community.
Mr Ouattara was unable to exercise any power, being confined to a hotel only a few kilometres away from the presidential palace, protected by UN peacekeeping troops.
Eventually his militia overran the country and - together with French troops - stormed the presidential palace and captured Mr Gbagbo in April 2011.
Mr Gbagbo was subsequently transferred to The Hague to stand trial at the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity.Instability persists
In November 2012, Mr Ouattara dissolved the Ivorian government after a row over a new marriage law. Analysts said the split highlighted the continued political instability in the country.
Mr Ouattara, a US-educated economist from the Muslim north, served as President Felix Houphouet-Boigny's last prime minister after a long career at the International Monetary Fund.
After losing a power struggle against parliament chief Henri Konan Bedie, Mr Ouattara return to the IMF, rising to be deputy managing director.
He made a comeback in Ivorian politics as head of the liberal Rally of the Republicans, which has strong support in the north, and backed the coup that ousted President Bedie in 1999.
Disputes about whether Mr Ouattara's parents were Ivorian led to his being debarred from standing for the presidency in 2000 - one of the controversies that prompted the 2002 civil war. As part of the post-war settlement, Mr Ouattara was allowed to register for the 2010 election.