News / Africa

Sanctions Hurt Ivory Coast Economy

Security contain clients standing outside the headquarters of the Bicici bank as they came to withdraw money in Abidjan, March 3, 2011
Security contain clients standing outside the headquarters of the Bicici bank as they came to withdraw money in Abidjan, March 3, 2011

Economic sanctions against Ivory Coast are hurting business in the world's top cocoa producer.

Thousands of civil servants line up along Abidjan's Rue des Banques, waiting to be paid their February salaries. When foreign banks closed last month because of regional sanctions against incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, his government faced its biggest economic challenge yet: finding the cash to pay its workers, especially its soldiers.

Gbagbo's government quickly took charge of those banks and reopened them this week, just in time to pay civil servants 80 percent of their normal salaries.

"That will be a great success. I am sure they will be able to do it," said English teacher Ibrahim Kalo.  He says the regional central bank move to cut off the Gbagbo government was a challenge to all Ivorians - a challenge that has been met.

"I think this was an operation to diabolize [demonize] the government of Cote d'Ivoire,” Kalo added. “But I think they can pay us. That is why we are standing now in the queue. You can see from all the banks here long lines of people waiting for money, and they will be paid. You can be sure of that. There is no trouble."

Winceslas Appia, general manager of Abidjan's Bank for Agricultural Financing says there is enough cash to take care of everyone. So people should remain calm, he said. Appia said the banks have put in place measures to reinforce their staff so everyone will be served.

Withdrawals limited

Personal withdrawals are limited to about $425 a day. Gbagbo's Minister of Economy and Finance, Desire Dallo says those limits are meant to help the banking system stay solvent.

Dallo is asking people not to withdraw all their money because the banking system works only if there is a balance between deposits and loans. Dallo said it is obvious that people are afraid that banks will close again. But he said these are now state-run banks that will not fail, so account holders should not panic and withdraw all their money because that will not help.

Why sanctions?

Economic sanctions are meant to drive Gbagbo from power after he claimed re-election in last November's disputed presidential runoff. The constitutional council annulled nearly 10 percent of the ballots as fraudulent. Ivory Coast's electoral commission and the United Nations certified results that say former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara won that vote.

Ouattara's call for a ban on cocoa exports has brought most of that industry to a halt, denying the Gbagbo government an important source of tax revenue. Sanctions have led to a shortage of cooking gas and the collapse of money transfers and credit cards, making Ivory Coast a cash-only economy.

Economic impact

Senegalese businessman Mouctar Bah sells mobile phones in Abidjan's Treichville neighborhood.

Bah says Seneglese merchants were in Ivory Coast when it was good. Now nothing is working. There is not Western Union or banks to transfer money. Businessmen are not politicians, Bah says, so when things are not working, it is time to leave.

At a Total Petrol station on Boulevard du General DeGaulle, motorists are no longer allowed to buy fuel in jerry cans. It is part of a government campaign to prevent hoarding as Abidjan's refinery is reducing production because it is having trouble buying crude.

Effective?

Ouattara supporters say sanctions against Gbagbo are working, though more slowly than they hoped.

"We will see that the effects will be quite remarkable,” said Jean-Marie Kacou Gervais, Ouattara's foreign minister. “We can't see it by now, but it's on. And I am sure he will not be able to stand the heat when the time comes."

Even those who do not recognize Gbagbo's authority agree that his is the de facto government in Ivory Coast so long as it pays its soldiers.

"He has the army and he also has got the finance to pay,” said Hamadoun Toure, the United Nations mission spokesman. “As long as he has the two powers, he will be in control of the situation."

Pro-Gbagbo parliamentarian Bamba Massany says Ivorians will not be cowed by the international community.

Massany said sanctions against the Gbagbo government are inhuman and nonsensical. Now is the time for people to help the government, as Massany said it is working to strengthen Ivory Coast's economic foundations.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid