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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid