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

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid