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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid