The Ivory Coast Blog

Freedom. Stability. Independence. Prosperity.

Look to the Ivory Coast for Inspiration

Ivorycoasteditor:

I recently was shown this snippet from a blog featuring Nigerian interests. Nigerian Curiosity is the name of the site and is edited by SOLOMONSYDELLE. Click his name to read about the blog.

It was a very powerful commentary about his own personal understanding of the Cote d’Ivoire and I hope our readers will go to the site and read the whole commentary and the string of responses to it. More.

Here is the snippet:

I had the good fortune of living in Cote D’Ivoire for almost 7 years. It is a beautiful country with wonderful people, incredible music, great food and excellent beaches. I must confess that despite the recent insecurity and fighting that nation has experienced, Cote D’Ivoire and specifically, the city of Abidjan, will always have a special place in my heart.

He goes on further to compare his nation with the great efforts President Gbagbo took in the Ivory Coast over fuel cost riots:

Well, Cote D’Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast as non-French speakers call it, has done something that Nigeria’s government should pay attention to. There was a riot in April when the government increased the price of diesel. In response, the Ivorian government has just announced that it will slash the salaries of Ministers by half to subsidize the lower cost of diesel for the masses.

Many thanks to Solomonsydelle!

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August 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Côte d’Ivoire is Ready for an Economic Comeback

By Ilana Freedman

According to the latest IMF[1] Survey, Côte d’Ivoire is well positioned for a significant economic comeback this year. Private sector confidence, which had been eroded by international interventions, civil war, rampant corruption, political fractiousness, trade barriers erected by the international community, and sky-rocketing prices, is returning.

The IMF projects growth of Côte d’Ivoire’s GDP by three per cent this year (which will effectively double last year’s growth), and further growth to five or six per cent over the next few years.

Côte d’Ivoire received its independence in 1960, and for the next twenty years the country enjoyed economic

President Laurent Gbagbo

President Laurent Gbagbo

development that made it a driving force in West Africa. GDP growth of seven per cent a year was supported by a major position in the world’s cocoa, coffee, and cotton production. However, in the ensuing climate of mismanagement, fueled by corruption, international greed, disruptive immigration, and political strife, the prosperity and beauty of the country gave way to loss of trade, extensive borrowing, and resulting squalor as the economy began to fail.

While the IMF gives most of the credit for the current renewal to the international community, which has provided significant financial support, it is clear that the problems facing Côte d’Ivoire would never have been solved by money alone. Substantial credit must go to the country’s leadership under the presidency of Laurent Gbagbo, who assumed office in 2000. Although the election was contentious, and continues to be challenged, he has taken courageous steps across dangerous political waters to achieve relative stability and a new environment of economic promise.

After several unsuccessful attempts to end the brutal enmity caused by a failed coup in 2002 and the resulting civil war, Gbagbo broke precedent in 2007 and reached out to the rebel leadership. He brought them to the table in Ouagadougou in a historic meeting that resulted in the Ouagadougou Peace Accord, signed in March 2007. This was the beginning of a new chapter in the country’s history, and the beginning of a period of renewed hope among the people of Côte d’Ivoire. According to government sources, a new sense of nationalism and pride among the population is a phenomenon that speaks volumes about the progress that has been made.

Prime Minister Soro

Prime Minister Soro

As part of the Peace Accord, Guillaume Soro, who had been leader of the rebel forces that fought so fiercely against the government, became Prime Minister, and took on the responsibility of disarming the rebels.

On the economic front, the president has attacked the ubiquitous corruption that has made sound economic recovery virtually impossible. Many high level officers in the public sector were arrested for economic crimes, their high positions and political affiliations notwithstanding. Even members of Gbagbo’s own party fell in this massive anti-corruption campaign. It was a risky political move on his part and one that took considerable courage.

In another recent move to improve the economic situation, the government slashed the salaries of senior ministers by half in order to finance a 10 percent cut on fuel prices. Prime Minister Guillaume Soro said they “had decided to cut basic salaries of all members of government” and that the measure would affect managers of state-owned companies as well, in response to what he called “the common man’s cries of distress”.

The restructuring of the government resulted in the development of an economic plan, which placed several imperatives on the table, and produced a list of four key priorities:

  • – budget as the core of economic policy,
  • – higher spending in areas that would assist the very poor and help turn crisis into opportunity,
  • – reforms in government including a strong emphasis on transparency,
  • – a strong program to encourage business development.

In order to support these initiatives, the IMF provided $128.4 million in emergency funding, and the World Bank pledged a grant of $308 million. The United Nations, and various countries and organizations have also contributed funds.

But funding will not be enough to solve the problems of a nation that has suffered so much. The key to the future of Côte d’Ivoire will lie in the national elections, scheduled for November 30. If continuity in the current process is the prevailing concern of the voters, then the re-election of Laurent Gbagbo to the presidency will give him the opportunity to continue forward with his program of reforms. If he is not successful in the election, then the future of Côte d’Ivoire is less certain.

The strides that have been taken are impressive, but the country’s political issues are complex, fueled by international priorities that are all too frequently in conflict with Côte d’Ivoire’s best interests. A strong effort to move forward with the reform programs now in place will go a long way to easing the people’s concerns about the future of Côte d’Ivoire. It will also provide a strong basis for the conduct of free and fair elections in November.


[1] International Monetary Fund, headquartered in Washington, DC.

August 11, 2008 Posted by | Economomic Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping the Promise: Côte d’Ivoire’s War Against Corruption

The following article sheds a new light on the extraordinary efforts of a leader who has openly declared his heartfelt passion for his country and the region of Africa in which his nation has a leading role to play.

By Robert Taylor and Ilana Freedman

President Gbagbo Speaks at the U.N.

President Gbagbo Speaks at the U.N.

In the Western world, popular perceptions about Africa suggest a continent rife with political unrest, never-ending wars, and the unfulfilled promises of its leaders. The region has long suffered from poor leadership, foreign interventions, and the systematic corruption that rots the soul of its emerging nations.

A remarkable exception to this image is the West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire, where President Laurent Gbagbo is leading his country away from the horrors of war, and fulfilling his promise to create a true democracy in the Ivorian Republic. This compelling story has seen little light in the international press, but it is one that deserves to be told.

The story begins with cocoa. Côte d’Ivoire began developing its cocoa industry nearly one hundred years ago. In the intervening century, this modest crop has grown into a $1.4 billion industry which provides 40% of the world’s supply and represents over 30% of the country’s exports. Nearly a quarter of the population works in some aspect of the cocoa industry. The economy of Côte d’Ivoire therefore depends heavily on the successful global export of its cocoa crop. But the industry has long been marred by a history of corruption and lack of transparency that has cost the country both revenues and credibility.

Once a colony of France and part of the Federation of French West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire achieved its independence in 1960, but international interference in internal affairs continued to impact many aspects of Ivorian life. Côte d’Ivoire was compelled by the international community to restructure the Stabilization Fund for Agricultural Products Pricing (La Caisse de Stabilisation des Prix des Produits Agricoles 1963 – 1998), the old management body that controlled the price of cocoa. The performance of the new body was supposed to be improved by the stringent measures imposed by the international financial institutions. In reality, however, the desired results – accountability and efficiency – were never achieved.


First the War for the Nation, Then the War against Corruption

In 2000, at the very beginning of his administration, President Gbagbo attempted to better organize this vital sector of the national economy. However, the intervening war and the resulting crisis throughout the country made effective oversight of the Cocoa Board nearly impossible. Despite his promise to pursue the program against corruption, Gbagbo found it necessary to deal first with the military and political battles that faced the nation.

Finally, in early June 2008, President Gbagbo declared war on the rampant corruption in Côte d’Ivoire ’s public sector. He promised “to crackdown on corrupters to free Cote d’Ivoire from this cancer.” One of the first and most dramatics signs that his campaign had begun in earnest was the recent arrest of top officials on the Coffee and Cocoa Board.

The arrests were far from trivial. They included the president of the Cocoa Bourse marketing body, the president of the Regulatory and Control Fund, and twenty-one senior officers, who were accused of embezzling funds. These arrests symbolized considerably more than a token political ploy. It signaled the willingness of the president to identify corruption, even in high places, and authorize the apprehension of even those in elite positions who were formerly considered untouchable. It was a sign of considerable political courage that Gbagbo’s pursuit of corrupt officials has included the arrest of members of his own political party and even members of his own ethnic group, an unprecedented display of integrity for an African leader.

President Gbagbo’s attention to raising the nation’s moral standards has not been limited to the cocoa regulatory industry, but has been applied throughout the public sector. A commission was recently tasked to investigate academic fraud at the National Police Academy, to ascertain whether counterfeit degrees were being presented as proof of matriculation from high school or university. Since matriculation is required for entry into the Police Academy, the use of forged documents poses a serious challenge to fair admission procedures. In another incident, twelve high school teachers and five students were recently arrested for selling answers to the national matriculation exams to other students.


Gbagbo’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Catches the Opposition by Surprise

Côte d’Ivoire is preparing for national elections in November and Gbagbo faces serious challenges for re-election. The eyes of the world will be on the outcome. In a country with 144 political parties, where the destruction of war has made the identification of qualified voters extremely complex and the reconstruction has created challenging new problems, the events leading up to the elections will be critical.

Gbagbo’s early successes in his program to revitalize Côte d’Ivoire have apparently caught the opposition off-guard. They have been rushing to organize a campaign of disinformation against the president.

Allasane Ouattara, for example, is one of Gbagbo’s leading opponents. He heads the RDR (Rally of the Republicans), one of the major parties whose newspaper, The Patriot, has attempted to denigrate Gbagbo’s anti-corruption program in an effort to sway public opinion against him. It recently reported a detailed – and totally fabricated – account of a meeting that took place in Gbagbo’s village, and quoted inflammatory remarks that Gbagbo never uttered. The political fallout could have been (and may yet be) serious.

The Patriot article gave a hint, however, of how deeply the early successes of the president’s anti-corruption program concern those whose interests lie in maintaining the status quo. An immediate response, and a detailed account of the actual events that occurred, appeared in La Voie, another daily newspaper. This exchange made it clear that the battle against corruption will not stop at the edge of the political arena.

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Crime and Corruption | , , , , | 3 Comments

Is it finally time to start spring-cleaning?

It’s difficult to count the number of times producers and the general public have called on the president of Ivory Coast to establish some sense of order in the coffee and cacao sector. Well, it seems that their cry has finally been heeded.

By Louis S. Amédé, Abidjan

From: Les Afriques

The coffee and cacao sector in Ivory Coast has once again fallen on tumultuous times. But this time, the cause has nothing to do with the recurring conflicts among its leaders or quarrels over money fuelled by producers or management entities within the sector. No. This time the unsettling situation has been instigated by the legal proceedings that have been wielded against some top industry players, with many directors facing committal orders and even jail time at Abidjan’s main correctional facility, the MACA. “Embezzlement, breach of trust, misappropriation, swindling, forgery in private companies and banking,” are the main charges against them. And the investigation being conducted by Attorney General Tchimou Raymond is only just getting started!

Clean hands

Is Ivory Coast’s head of state, Laurent Gbagbo, using the “operation clean hands” project he only recently launched to weed out the coffee and cacao industry as a trump card to be played during the 30th November 2008 presidential elections?

In a nation where every act is screened through the political prism of the land, this clean-up campaign in political spheres is disconcerting at best. In particular, there are political parties who smell the foul odour of a deliberate political manoeuvre to smear their own leaders. This seems all the more troubling when the incumbent president affirms in no uncertain terms that, “the procedures currently underway in the coffee and cacao industry will be carried out in other sectors. Our goal is to provide more transparency in the management of the State.

Little treats

The detention of 23 top players of the coffee and cacao sector, for the time being, came about after a seizin of the Attorney General by the head of state on 11th October 2007 to shed light on “grave accusations of embezzlement within the sector.” Indeed, before the President Gbagbo’s February 2006 decree to establish a framework for the management of the drawing of funds (for the State, for the functioning of various structures and for the implementation of activities in favour of producers) each of the management entities – the ARCC (Autorité de régulation du café et du cacao) that oversees the coffee-cacao industry, the (BCC) Bourse du Café et du Cacao, the FRC (Fonds de régulation et de contrôle), the FDPCC (Fonds de développement des producteurs de café-cacao) and the FGCCC (Fonds de garantie des coopératives café-cacao)- was managing a portion of the manna being received at the time. And to accomplish this effort, each structure seems to have provided him with some little treat. The amount of money resulting from those guilty of “failure to follow sound management rules” in the form of overcharging, others guilty of embezzlement and some guilty of fictitious or false placements has not been disclosed. But the rumour mill suggests sums in the billions of FCFA. “This is hardly surprising in a sector where it has long been customary to add two or three zeros to every bill,” confided a former high-ranking executive of the Caisse de stabilisation, an organisation that played a considerable role in determining and maintaining the price of products from the coffee-cacao sector.

“This is hardly surprising in a sector where it has long been customary to add two or three zeros to every bill,” confided a former high-ranking executive of the Caisse de stabilisation. Measuring cups

The on-going legal proceedings are the most recent link in a chain of events. First, there were a few cups “to improve the management of the sector’s resources” – cups that should have been taken as warnings. A clear warning should have been the creation by presidential decree of a Committee for the management of drawings whose mission was to examine, follow up and validate any project or programme to be financed within the sector before its realisation. But according to this former senior official of the Caisse de stabilisation, “as in the past, the pro rapid and unjustifiable enrichment mentality, prevarication and extortion have, once again, got the upper hand, driving the Bretton Woods institutions to demand and acquire the ill-advised and ill-conceived liberalisation of the coffee and cacao sector.” Essentially, back stage of this clean-up process being carried out before the haggard eyes of Ivory Coast nationals and the international community, neither of whom thought President Gbagbo capable of anything like this, is the question of the economic efficiency and expediency of the liberalisation of the coffee and cacao industry. The actions that set the “clean hands” ball in motion, saying much about the shortcomings of this forceps-delivered liberalisation, have now given birth to a host of overlapping entities.

Staying the course

While awaiting the start of court proceedings against those currently being detained, the Ivory Coast head of state seems determined to stay the course to the very end of the process. “And that might not be such a bad thing” notes a member of the National Council on Coffee and Cacao who, only a few months before, was espousing the need “to sanction the industry’s inadequacies and gross missteps.” In this framework, the National Association of Ivory Coast Producers (Association nationale de producteurs de Côte d’Ivoire – Anaproci), has also added members of successive governments to the list of those to be indicted. We’re not quite there, however. But for Jean-François Akini, an entrepreneur, “It was about time because even if Laurent Gbagbo had already proven himself to be a political genius, he had yet to show that he could be a great leader. With the “clean hands” operation that he’s just launched in his immediate professional entourage and also in departments that govern the management of public assets, he now has a good opportunity to show us what he can do.” Of course, this is provided that everything is done the right way and followed through and that all sectors of Ivory Coast’s economy face the same scrutiny…. Is that a hint? Of course!

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Crime and Corruption | , , , | Leave a comment

Ivory Coast’s Real Estate Sector Is Bouncing Back

After some stagnation due to the economic and socio-political roller-coaster rides of the last decade, the real estate industry in Ivory Coast is starting to make a turn for the better.

By Louis S. Amédé, Abidjan From:Les Afrique

If the recent plethora of litigation in real estate was to be equated with consciousness, then one could safely say that this industry is slowly but surely waking up. Certainly, gone are the days when business was booming during the reign of construction companies like SICOGI, Batim-CI, Iprobat, Interbat, Sipim, and SCI Les Rosiers, when buildings sprouted left and right though major programmes and real estate operations for several hundred homes. “If one should take into account the price hikes on construction materials and the actual cost of land which varies between 10,000 F CFA on Adzope and 60 – 70,000 F CFA at the Riviera Golfe so there is much to be done,” explains an executive at the Ministry of Construction and Urbanism. What is lacking, however, is the widespread application of guidelines implemented.

Unlike the previous trend, this real estate renaissance is essentially due to the building of private residences that are popping up like mushrooms and real estate projects initiated by workers’ associations or mutual insurance companies for their members.

Growing needsIndeed, with the relative normalisation of the socio-political landscape, the need for viable property continues to grow. The imbalance between supply and demand that became more and more apparent with each passing year soon impeded efforts to promote building. To alleviate the problem and counteract the proliferation of illegal squatting and precarious neighbourhoods, the Ministry of Construction and Urbanism recently launched an operation “to improve the supply of a wide range of land in urban areas so as to make them more accessible.” The pilot phase of the production mechanism for land, consisting in improving new spaces concerned 50 hectares in the Cocody commune.

Activity bouncing back In an Ivory Coast where having your own roof has become a priority, the new surge in real estate activity is palpable. Unlike the previous trend, this real estate renaissance is essentially due to the building of private residences that are popping up like mushrooms and real estate projects initiated by workers’ associations or mutual insurance companies for their members. For Jean François Kimbe, an expert in Franco-Ivory Coast real estate, “real estate credit in Ivory Coast and France are both “in”. Both countries are similar as far as access to property goes. The number of home owners has increased significantly.

Cheaper Loans More and more real estate loans are costing noticeably less and this is no small factor in the recent buzz in Ivory Coast’s recent real estate boom. Banks are eager to study loan applications with the utmost regard for the applicant. The BIAO (Banque Internationale pour l’Afrique Occidentale) requires that one have a checking account where one receives regular influxes of revenue for them to take on their real estate plans. In addition, it guarantees that it will “find the loan that best suits the applicant’s needs and resources to find a bank”. The Ivory Coast’s Banque pour le Financement de l’Agriculture (Bank for the Financing of Agriculture) has basic conditions that are pretty much the same, reinforced by a few complementary guarantees (proof of funds received from one’s employer in that account, a closed mortgage of 1st or 2nd rank in real estate) grants up to 15 million F CFAs in loans, depending on the applicant.

The only drawback of this new real estate boom is that the trend clearly favours high-end properties and not low-income housing. So, in Ivory Coast, the average consumer still has a way to go before having a roof of his own.

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Economomic Issues | , | Leave a comment

Our Beloved Abidjan on Display

A great view of the rebirth of Abidjan as one of Africa’s greatest cities.
Abidjan Skyline over the Lagoon

Abidjan Skyline over the Lagoon

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Photo Album | Leave a comment

8 July 2008: The Politics of Post-Conflict Elections in Côte d’Ivoire

An often-heralded rationale for post-conflict elections is grounded in the argument that by demilitarising politics these elections will end conflict and usher in democracy. However, as post-conflict elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of Congo and Liberia seems to suggest, these elections are nothing but a reflection of the military asymmetric of a conflict. Thus the maxim: elections cannot settle a military conflict that negotiations or victory have failed to end. One wonders therefore if these elections are merely designed to legitimise a victor or a power-sharing agreement and in the process to institutionalise wartime institutions, alliances and political rationalities? Do these elections address the roots causes of conflict, or do they merely serve as an exit strategy for the international community to disengage from a crisis situation? What happens when elections produce results not favoured by the international community?

As Côte d’Ivoire prepares to go to the polls on November 30th to elect a new president and in the process end a six-year bruising conflict, it is important to look at these questions and interrogate the conditions prior to the elections. These are critical in determining how the country and the international community manage the precarious balance between post-conflict elections as a conflict resolution mechanism and as a vehicle for democracy. I do not contend that post-conflict elections cannot perform both.

However, looking at attempts at managing and influencing the transitional process, there is little doubt that the elections, come November, will be more of a conflict resolution process that legitimises and entrenches the present Gbagbo-Soro partnership, rather than being a robust attempt at democratisation. The question then is why are Ivorian politicians interested in the elections?

The forthcoming presidential elections will definitely determine who has the political initiative in the country. It should be noted that the roots of the Ivorian crisis could be found in the crisis of legitimacy. For the time being, the legitimacy of the regime hinges on the fact that the country is in a state of war. Thus, there is urgency within the presidential camp that the president needs a renewed mandate from the people. President Laurent Gbagbo’s mandate ended in 2005, but it has been extended once by the UN Security Council, following recommendations from the African Union Peace and Security Council. Thus President Gbagbo needs a popular mandate to bolster his legitimacy as he struggles to strengthen his hold on power.

There is no doubt the Ouagadougou Accord and its subsequent supplementary accords were motivated by the desire of President Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaumme Soro to take control of a peace process that was increasingly being hijacked by the international community and in the process ensure their political survival. Thus it is plausible to contend that, if the partnership is to last, it is in need of some sort of legitimacy engendered by popular vote to deflate the argument that it was a partnership designed to share the spoils of war.

As for the political opposition, a credible election will give them an opportunity not only to reassert themselves, considering they have been overshadowed by the rebels, but also a chance to attempt to cease power or at least influence it. This chance is real considering the opposition seems to count on the fact that if President Gbagbo fails to secure a knockout blow in the first round, their combined ticket might pose a credible challenge. Moreover, the political opposition might be contesting the presidential elections with an eye on the parliamentary elections. Considering the ethnic demographics in the country, it is very likely that the political opposition might do well in the legislative elections and in the process, taking the political battle to the legislature. It is against this backdrop that the various Ivorian political elites are jostling for control and influence of the electoral process.

Beyond the normative imperative to have elections in Côte d‘Ivoire, the elections will provide a mobilising ground for the international community to rally around an eventual winner and in the process provide the much needed resources for post-conflict reconstruction and development. Moreover, developmental aid from international financial institutions is contingent on some form of political stability in the country. Also, support for the electoral process might provide a window of opportunity for countries like France that have seen their influence in the country wane over time to re-engage and sustain their interest.

This analysis might be accused of naivety considering the urgency of balancing stability against peace. However, its purpose is to refocus the attention of the international community to support the faltering Ivorian peace process. For the time being, the process is in dire need of financial support to operationalise the Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintergration process. It is thus important that in addressing the environmental conditions surrounding the elections, the international community must come to the aid of Côte d’Ivoire and support its DDR process.

Chrysantus Ayangafac, Senior Researcher, Direct Conflict Prevention Programme, ISS Addis Ababa

Source: http://www.issafrica.org/index.php?link_id=14&slink_id=6256&link_type=12&slink_type=12&tmpl_id=3

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Election Issues | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Côte d’Ivoire: President Gbagbo’s Model for Peace

By Robert Foster and Ilana Freedman

At a time when much of the world is embroiled in seemingly irreconcilable disputes, one African nation has emerged as a leader in conflict resolution. As they move away from conflict and towards national elections in November, Côte d’Ivoire is rapidly becoming a symbol of what is possible.

Delegates to the United Nations’ “Group of 77 Conference” arrived in Côte d’Ivoire last week and were greeted by a nation hard at work on the task of reconciliation and reconstruction. After closing the book on a traumatic period of internal discord, the Ivorian people have united with an unprecedented spirit of national pride, under the leadership of President Laurent Gbagbo, who is determined to establish their Republic as a showcase of West-African social and economic achievement.

Members of the U.N. delegation and the accompanying press corps may have expected to find another factionalized African country in the midst of the turmoil that has characterized the continent during the last few months. What they found instead was a proud people, moving forward under the confident leadership of President Gbagbo.

His efforts to bind the country together over the last few years have met with extraordinary success, a success that may serve as a model for other countries facing severe internal strife and external threat.

In a country that has been beset by civil war and foreign interventions, President Gbagbo has emerged as a figure of great personal courage and a visionary of historic proportions.

Shortly after his election to the presidency in 2000, he set forth his mission to reclaim the sovereignty of Côte d’Ivoire from international control. Among the promises he made to his people was the commitment to open expiring commercial contracts (then largely controlled by French interests) to the bidding process, and to rebuild the economy of his country.

An attempted coup d’etat in 2002, timed to coincide with Gbagbo’s state visit to Italy, spelled the beginning of a new period of unrest. When France invited him to sit out the hostilities in Paris, Gbagbo declined and returned to Abidjan, the former administrative capital of Côte d’Ivoire. ”I would rather die in my country,” he said, “than live in exile in France.”

The coup failed, but it was followed by a civil war that tore the country apart. In 2004, most of the Ivorian military aircraft were destroyed by French forces, which strengthened its military presence there.

The war also brought the United Nations into Côte d’Ivoire. They mandated a division of the country and set up a buffer zone between the south and the north, leaving President Gbagbo with a broken country.

In March 2007, after several attempted peace treaties, Laurent Gbagbo broke the cycle of war by reaching out to his adversaries.

He extended his hand to the leader of the rebel New Forces, Guillaume Soro, and to Blaise Compaoré, president of neighboring Burkina Faso, who was invited to serve as broker and mediator. The outcome of this courageous act of diplomacy was the Oaugadougo Peace Accord, a shared government was created, in which Soro assumed the position of Prime Minister. The accord was signed on March 4, 2007.

Over the last year, the results have been unprecedented. The separation zone has been dismantled, and the country is once again unified. People can now travel freely between north and south. Prime Minister Soro has supervised the disarmament, bringing former rebels into training programs from which they can enter national service.

On the economic scene, President Gbagbo has spear-headed a project aimed at expanding the port of Abidjan, in order to increase its ship-handling capacity to 4,000 containers. The project is aimed at providing Cote d’Ivoire with a strong infrastructure that will include the improvement of airports, roads and railways, and will elevate the nation’s stature in the world of commerce.

Many challenges still remain. The volatility of the global economy has sent food prices soaring, and pockets of local corruption still plague President Gbagbo’s efforts to achieve his dream of returning Côte d’Ivoire to its former prosperity. But he is firm in his determination.

“I am going to flush out corrupters,” he said recently. “My first fight was to put an end to the war. Now that the war is over, my next fight is to crackdown on corrupters to free Cote d’Ivoire from this cancer.”

The future will no doubt hold difficult challenges for Gbagbo as he faces re-election in November. But he is determined to build a new Côte d’Ivoire that will reclaim its former prominence as a leader among African nations. With the support of his people, who have enthusiastically embraced their new national pride, his program provides a strong basis for success and a model for other nations.

July 2, 2008 Posted by | President Gbagbo | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cote d’Ivoire Peace Process Facing Hurdles

From: www.chinaview.cn

ABIDJAN, July 1 (Xinhua) — Characterized by delays in meeting key deadlines, lack of resources and now mutinies, the implementation of the Cote d’Ivoire peace process could be headed for more trouble if something is not done urgently to rectify the situation, according to observers.

“The Cote d’Ivoire peace process is in danger, largely because Prime Minister Guillaume Soro does not have the resources to back up his policies,” Alain Lobognon, a senior military official with the former New Forces (FN) rebels, was quoted as telling reporters Monday.

Short of funds, Cote d’Ivoire, which once served as a shining example of both political and economic stability in Africa, has been calling on development partners to chip in and support key peace process programs and projects such as disarmament and demobilization of former combatants.
“The funds have been trickling in, albeit slowly than expected,” said one regional observer, adding: “If the country is to hold the much awaited presidential election in line with the November deadline, then donors will need to step up their game.”

“For Cote d’Ivoire, this is nothing short of a crisis situation,” Lobognon, a special advisor to Prime Minister Soro and also FN communication director, said, referring to a weekend uprising by FN soldiers in the central parts of the country.

“The peace process is in danger because the prime minister can ill-afford his policies,” said the FN communication director, calling on the international community to show solidarity with the Ivorian people.

Guillaume Soro, who was appointed as the prime minister in a transitional government formed shortly after a comprehensive peace agreement was signed between the government and the FN in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in March 2007, “does not have the means to move the process forward,” said a regional political commentator.

Charged with overseeing the implementation of the program to end the crisis that has bedeviled the country since September 2002,” Prime Minister Soro is faced with a difficult task that includes demobilizing, disarming and reintegrating former combatants, which is a costly process by any standards,” according to an Abidjan-based African diplomat.

On himself, the prime minister cannot “afford the implementation of the peace process,” said his advisor, who denounced lack of support from the international community.

“We are always told to expect aid that never comes,” said Lobognon.

Meanwhile, the Cote d’Ivoire government is holding a round table with donors, mainly drawn from the Arab world, as part of efforts to seek “special emergency” funds to spur the implementation of the six-year old peace process.

The two-day panel meeting, which began Monday in the economic capital of Abidjan, is being attended by representatives of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), the OPEC Fund as wells as officials from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The funds will be used to rehabilitate infrastructure facilities that have been damaged since the outbreak of the politico-military crisis in September 2002 in order to enable people to “maintain an acceptable standard of living,” the government said in a statement issued ahead of the meeting.

Addressing the opening session of the meeting, Cote d’Ivoire’s Economy Minister Charles Diby Koffi said that his government had set aside 3 billion CFA francs (about 7 million U.S. dollars) to finance the program in 2008 despite “severe budgetary constraints.”

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July 1, 2008 Posted by | Peace Process | , , , | 1 Comment

SOCCER: Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea Lead Goal Spree

Story by REUTERS
Publication Date: 6/24/2008

JOHANNESBURG

Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea led a deluge of home goals on Sunday as a marathon month of African World Cup qualifiers drew to a close with home success in all but one of the day’s 12 games.

The Ivorians and Guinea both scored 4-0 home wins to go top of the standings in their respective groups but Ethiopia overshadowed them with a 6-1 win over Mauritania while the Democratic Republic of Congo were 5-1 victors at home to hapless Djibouti.

Home triumph

Ismael Bangoura netted a hat-trick for Guinea in their win over Namibia in Conakry while Shabani Nonda got a trio of goals for the Congolese in Kinshasa as Djibouti’s tally of goals conceded in the qualifiers rose to 23 in four matches.

Sekou Cisse grabbed two in the Ivorians’ win over Botswana in Abidjan while Mozambique won their first game in the same group with a 3-0 home triumph over Madagascar.

Benin, Egypt and Ghana all won 2-0 to keep them well in contention. New Barcelona signing Seydou Keita scored twice for Mali and Frederic Kanoute claimed the other in a 3-0 home win over Sudan in Bamako.

Reigning African Footballer of the Year Kanoute has now got five goals in four qualifying matches.

Emad Moteab scored both for Egypt as they beat Malawi 2-0 in a Group 12 game in Cairo.

The only anomaly was the potentially vital away point picked up by Kenya in their Group Two match at Zimbabwe.

It sees the Harambee Stars level on points with Guinea.

The Group Three encounter between Angola and Uganda was postponed to Monday after the refereeing team from Nigeria failed to arrive in Luanda on time.

The 12 African qualifying groups will provide 20 teams to go through to the last phase of qualifiers later this year. The 12 group winners and eight best runners-up progress.

World Cup qualifying African zone second-round results on Sunday. Group 1 Saturday, June 21 Cameroon 2 Tanzania 1 Group 2 Sunday, June 22 Zimbabwe 0 Kenya 0 Group 4 Saturday, June 21 Nigeria 2 Equatorial Guinea 0 South Africa 0 Sierra Leone 0 Group 5 Friday, June 20 Libya 4 Lesotho 0 Group 6 Saturday, June 21 Senegal 3 Liberia 1 Group 6 Friday, June 20 Algeria 1 Gambia 0 Group 7 Sunday, June 22 Mozambique 3 Madagascar 0 Group 8 Sunday, June 22 Ethiopia 6 Mauritania 1 Group 8 Saturday, June 21 Morocco 2 Rwanda 0 Group 9 Saturday, June 21 Tunisia 2 Burundi 1 Burkina Faso 4 Seychelles 1 Group 10 Sunday, June 22 Congo 2 Chad 0 Group 11 Saturday, June 21 Zambia 1 Swaziland 0 Group 12 Sunday, June 22 Congo DR 5 Djibouti 1

New Soccer Gear

July 1, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , | Leave a comment