News / Africa

Ivory Coast Crisis Puts a Chill on the Economy

A vendor arranges cucumbers at a market in Abidjan (file photo)
A vendor arranges cucumbers at a market in Abidjan (file photo)

The violent political showdown that has gripped Ivory Coast since last month's disputed presidential election is taking its toll on the country's citizens and its economy.

For residents of Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan, celebrating Christmas this year, an atmosphere of caution and vigilance has replaced typical holiday cheer.

Last month's presidential poll was meant to heal more than a decade of internal division and restore the world's top cocoa grower to its former prosperity.

Instead, it is has led to a violent political power struggle that has only deepened economic troubles and looks dangerously close to reigniting a 2002-2003 civil war.

Incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refuses to cede power to Alassane Ouattara, who the United Nations and much of the international community recognize as the winner of the Nov. 28 presidential run-off.

Reuters reports that the crisis has shut down businesses, disrupted transport and pushed up prices.

Amadoun Dahogo, who sells cabbage at an Abidjan market, says everything is more expensive and there are no more trucks bringing in produce.

Dahogo says there is a lot of movement in the country at the moment, some say they have two presidents, others say they only have one president. As long as the elections are not finished properly, he says, we do not know how we are going to sell our produce.

Since opposition protests against Mr. Gbagbo last Thursday turned violent, the United Nations says more than 170 people have been killed.

In the country's commercial capital, Abidjan, Reuters reports that many shop owners are still too scared to resume work.   

Pineapple seller, Binta Traore, says they would like the crisis to be over. She says if the country is not stable, they cannot sell their produce. She says there are not even any clients. Who will come out to buy things, she asks.

U.N. endorsed election winner, Alassane Ouattara, remains holed up in an Abidjan hotel under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers and former rebel fighters.

Mr. Ouattara's prime minister has called for the international community to consider removing the increasingly defiant incumbent by force, though that is not the former IMF official's only strategy. Mr. Ouattara and the international community are also dialing up the financial pressure on Mr. Gbagbo.

The World Bank froze $800 million in committed financing for Ivory Coast Wednesday.

On Thursday, the West African Central Bank granted Mr. Ouattara's request to block Mr. Gbagbo's access to funds. The 7-member regional bank said it would allow only Mr. Ouattara's government to access the money, calling Mr. Ouattara the "legitimately elected president."  

Some speculate that Mr. Gbagbo will soon no longer be able to pay the salaries of civil servants and government troops who currently support him, though salaries for the month of December were, in fact, paid in time for Christmas.

Africa security analyst, J. Peter Pham of the New York-based National Committee on American Foreign Policy, says it remains to be seen whether the international community has the political will to hit Mr. Gbagbo's pursestrings with more drastic, and perhaps more uncomfortable, measures. For example, a cocoa embargo.

The Ivorian government taxes cocoa heavily, Pham said, and most of the country's supply is grown in the southern and western regions under the control of forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo.

"That being said however, prices are very volatile. The market is very tight. Most of the companies -- European and American are the major consumers of the Ivorian production -- won't thank their governments for cutting them off from the supply which puts them at a commercial disadvantage with competitors," said Pham.

Ivory Coast produces 40 percent of the world's cocoa supply. The current political crisis has pushed cocoa prices to recent four-month highs but has so far not dramatically interrupted delivery.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs