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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora