Background note: Cote d'Ivoire.
Area: 322,500 sq. km. (124,500 sq. mi.); slightly larger than New Mexico.
Cities: Principal city--Abidjan (economic capital, de facto political capital). Capital--Yamoussoukro (official). Other cities--Bouake, Daloa, Gagnoa, Korhogo, Man, San Pedro.
Terrain: Forested, undulating, hilly in the west; savannah in the north.
Climate: Tropical in the south; arid in the north.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Ivoirian(s).
Population (2006 est.): 18,900,000.
Annual growth rate: 3.8%, with immigration.
Ethnic groups: More than 60.
Religions: Indigenous 10%-20%, Muslim 35%-40%, and Christian (Catholic, Protestant, and other denominations) 25%-35%.
Languages: French (official); five principal language groups.
Education: Years compulsory--school is not compulsory at this time. Attendance--57%. Literacy--51%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--111/1,000. Life expectancy--46 years.
Independence: August 7, 1960.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state and head of government). Legislative--unicameral National Assembly. Judicial--Supreme Court (3 chambers: judicial, administrative, auditing); Constitutional Council.
Administrative subdivisions: 19 regions, 90 departments, 196 communes.
Political parties: Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI), Parti Democratique de la Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI), Rassemblement des Republicaines (RDR), Union pour la Democratie et pour la Paix en Cote d'Ivoire (UDPCI), numerous other smaller political parties operate in Cote d'Ivoire.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP (official exchange rate, 2008 est.): $23.5 billion.
GDP (purchasing power parity, 2008 est.): $35.8 billion.
Annual real growth rate (2008 est.): 2.3%.
Natural resources: Petroleum (offshore) discovered in 1977, production began in 1980. According to Ivorian Government figures, exports of crude oil and refined oil products totaled $2.97 billion (f.o.b.) in 2008. Gold mining began in the early 1990s.
Agriculture (24% of GDP, 2007): Products--cocoa, coffee, timber, rubber, corn, rice, tropical foods.
Industry (25% of GDP, 2007): Types--food processing, textiles.
Services (51% of GDP, 2007).
Trade (2008): Exports ($10.9 billion f.o.b.)--petroleum, cocoa, coffee, timber, cotton, palm oil, pineapples, bananas, fish. Major markets--Germany, Nigeria, Netherlands, France, U.S. Total imports ($9.1 billion f.o.b.)--fuel, consumer goods, basic foodstuffs (rice, wheat), capital goods. Major suppliers--Nigeria, France, China.
Cote d'Ivoire has more than 60 ethnic groups, usually classified into five principal divisions: Akan (east and center, including Lagoon peoples of the southeast), Krou (southwest), Southern Mande (west), Northern Mande (northwest), Senoufo/Lobi (north center and northeast). The Baoules, in the Akan division, probably comprise the single largest subgroup with 15%-20% of the population. They are based in the central region around Bouake and Yamoussoukro. The Betes in the Krou division, the Senoufos in the north, and the Malinkes in the northwest and the cities are the next largest groups, with 10%-15% each of the national population. Most of the principal divisions have a significant presence in neighboring countries.
Of the more than 5 million non-Ivoirian Africans living in Cote d'Ivoire, one-third to one-half are from Burkina Faso; the rest are from Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Liberia, and Mauritania. The non-African expatriate community includes roughly 10,000 French and possibly 60,000 Lebanese. As of mid-November 2004, thousands of expatriates, African and non-African, had fled from the violence in Cote d'Ivoire. However, many expatriates are slowly returning. Fifty-five percent of elementary school-aged children attended classes in 2006.
The early history of Cote d'Ivoire is virtually unknown, although it is thought that a Neolithic culture existed. France made its initial contact with Cote d'Ivoire in 1637, when missionaries landed at Assinie near the Gold Coast (now Ghana) border. Early contacts were limited to a few missionaries because of the inhospitable coastline and settlers' fear of the inhabitants.
In the 18th century, the country was invaded from present-day Ghana by two related Akan groups--the Agni, who occupied the southeast, and the Baoule, who settled in the central section. In 1843-44, Admiral Bouet-Williaumez signed treaties with the kings of the Grand Bassam and Assinie regions, placing their territories under a French protectorate. French explorers, missionaries, trading companies, and soldiers gradually extended the area under French control inland from the lagoon region. However, complete pacification was not accomplished until 1915.
Cote d'Ivoire officially became a French colony in 1893. Captain Binger, who had explored the Gold Coast frontier, was named the first governor. He negotiated boundary treaties with Liberia and the United Kingdom (for the Gold Coast) and later started the campaign against Almany Samory, a Malinke chief, who fought against the French until 1898.
From 1904 to 1958, Cote d'Ivoire was a constituent unit of the Federation of French West Africa. It was a colony and an overseas territory under the French Third Republic. Until the period following World War II, governmental affairs in French West Africa were administered from Paris. France's policy in West Africa was reflected mainly in its philosophy of "association," meaning that all Africans in Cote d'Ivoire were officially French "subjects" without rights to citizenship or representation in Africa or France.
During World War II, France's Vichy regime remained in control until 1943, when members of Gen. Charles de Gaulle's provisional government assumed control of all French West Africa. The Brazzaville Conference in 1944, the first Constituent Assembly of the French Fourth Republic in 1946, and France's gratitude for African loyalty during World War II led to far-reaching governmental reforms in 1946. French citizenship was granted to all African "subjects," the right to organize politically was recognized, and various forms of forced labor were abolished.
A turning point in relations with France was reached with the 1956 Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre), which transferred a number of powers from Paris to elected territorial governments in French West Africa and also removed remaining voting inequalities.
In December 1958, Cote d'Ivoire became an autonomous republic within the French community as a result of a referendum that brought community status to all members of the old Federation of French West Africa except Guinea, which had voted against association. Cote d'Ivoire became independent on August 7, 1960, and permitted its community membership to lapse.
Cote d'Ivoire's contemporary political history is closely associated with the career of Felix Houphouet-Boigny, President of the republic and leader of the Parti Democratique de la Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI) until his death on December 7, 1993. He was one of the founders of the Rassemblement Democratique Africain (RDA), the leading pre-independence inter-territorial political party in French West African territories (except Mauritania).
Houphouet-Boigny first came to political prominence in 1944 as founder of the Syndicat Agricole Africain, an organization that won improved conditions for African farmers and formed a nucleus for the PDCI. After World War II, he was elected by a narrow margin to the first Constituent Assembly. Representing Cote d'Ivoire in the French National Assembly from 1946 to 1959, he devoted much of his effort to inter-territorial political organization and further amelioration of labor conditions. After his 13-year service in the French National Assembly, including almost 3 years as a minister in the French Government, he became Cote d'Ivoire's first Prime Minister in April 1959, and the following year was elected its first President.
In May 1959, Houphouet-Boigny reinforced his position as a dominant figure in West Africa by leading Cote d'Ivoire, Niger, Upper Volta (Burkina), and Dahomey (Benin) into the Council of the Entente, a regional organization promoting economic development. He maintained that the road to African solidarity was through step-by-step economic and political cooperation, recognizing the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other African states.
1999 Coup and Aftermath
In a region where many political systems are unstable, Cote d'Ivoire showed remarkable political stability from its independence from France in 1960 until late 1999. Under Felix Houphouet-Boigny, President from independence until his death in December 1993, Cote d'Ivoire maintained a close political allegiance to the West while many countries in the region were undergoing repeated military coups, experimenting with Marxism, and developing ties with the Soviet Union and China. His successor, President Henri Konan Bedie, was familiar with the U.S., having served as Cote d'Ivoire's first ambassador to the U.S. Falling world market prices for Cote d'Ivoire's primary export crops of cocoa and coffee put pressure on the economy and the Bedie presidency. Government corruption and mismanagement led to steep reductions in foreign aid in 1998 and 1999, and eventually to the country's first coup on December 24, 1999.
Following the bloodless coup, General Guei formed a government of national unity and promised open elections. A new constitution was drafted and ratified by the population in the summer of 2000. It retained clauses that underscored national divisions between north and south, Christian and Muslim, that had been growing since Houphouet's death.
Elections were scheduled for fall 2000, but when the general's handpicked Supreme Court disqualified all of the candidates from the two major parties--the PDCI and Rassemblement des Republicaines (RDR)--Western election support and monitors were withdrawn. The RDR called for a boycott, setting the stage for low election turnout in a race between Guei and Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) candidate Laurent Gbagbo. When early polling results showed Gbagbo in the lead, Guei stopped the process--claiming polling fraud--disbanded the election commission, and declared himself the winner. Within hours Gbagbo supporters took to the streets of Abidjan. A bloody fight followed as crowds attacked the guards protecting the presidential palace. Many gendarmes and soldiers joined the fight against the junta government, forcing Guei to flee. Having gained the most votes, Gbagbo was declared President. The RDR then took the streets, calling for new elections because the Supreme Court had declared their presidential candidate and all the candidates of the PDCI ineligible. More violence erupted as forces loyal to the new government joined the FPI youth to attack RDR demonstrators. Hundreds were killed in the few days that followed before RDR party leader Alassane Ouattara called for peace and recognized the Gbagbo presidency.
2001 Attempted Coup
On January 7, 2001, another coup attempt shattered the temporary calm. However, some weeks later, in the spring, local municipal elections were conducted without violence and with the full participation of all political parties. The RDR, which had boycotted the presidential and legislative elections, won the most local seats, followed by the PDCI and FPI. Some economic aid from the European Union began to return by the summer of 2001, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) re-engaged the government. Questions surrounding severe human rights abuses by the government during the presidential and legislative elections of 2000 remained unresolved (e.g., the mass grave at Yopougon), but day-to-day life began to return to normal. In August 2002, President Gbagbo formed a de facto government of national unity that included the RDR party.
2002 Country Divides
On September 19, 2002, rebellious exiled military personnel and co-conspirators in Abidjan simultaneously attacked government ministers and government and military/security facilities in Abidjan, Bouake, and Korhogo. In Abidjan, government forces stopped the coup attempt within hours, but the attacks resulted in the deaths of Minister of Interior Emile Boga Doudou and several high-ranking military officers. General Guei was killed under still-unclear circumstances. Almost immediately after the coup attempt, the government launched an aggressive security operation in Abidjan, whereby shantytowns--occupied by thousands of immigrants and Ivoirians--were searched for weapons and rebels. Government security forces burned down or demolished a number of these shantytowns, which displaced over 12,000 people.
The failed coup attempt quickly evolved into a rebellion, splitting the country in two and escalating into the country's worst crisis since independence in 1960. The rebel group, calling itself the "Patriotic Movement of Cote d'Ivoire" (MPCI), retained control in Bouake and Korhogo, and within 2 weeks moved to take the remainder of the northern half of the country. In mid-October 2002, government and MPCI representatives signed a ceasefire and French military forces already present in the country agreed to monitor the ceasefire line. In late November 2002, the western part of the country became a new military front with the emergence of two new rebel groups--the Ivoirian Popular Movement for the Great West (MPIGO) and the Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP). MPIGO and MJP were allied with the MPCI, and the three groups subsequently called themselves the "New Forces." In January 2003, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) placed approximately 1,500 peacekeeping troops from five countries--Senegal (commander), Ghana, Benin, Togo, and Niger--on the ground beside the 4,000 French peacekeepers. The troops maintained the east-west ceasefire line, known as the Zone of Confidence, dividing the country.
In late January 2003, the country's major political parties and the New Forces signed the French-brokered Linas- Marcoussis Accord (LMA), agreeing to a power-sharing national reconciliation government to include rebel New Forces representatives. The parties agreed to work together on modifying national identity, eligibility for citizenship, and land tenure laws which many observers see as among the root causes of the conflict. The LMA also stipulated a UN Monitoring Committee to report on implementation of the accord. Also in January 2003, President Gbagbo appointed Seydou Diarra as the consensus Prime Minister. In March 2003, Prime Minister Diarra formed a government of national reconciliation of 41 ministers. The full government did not meet until mid-April. On July 4, 2003, the government and New Forces militaries signed an "End of the War" declaration, recognized President Gbagbo's authority, and vowed to work for the implementation of the LMA and a program of demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration (DDR). On September 13, 2003, six months after the formation of the reconciliation government, President Gbagbo named politically neutral Defense and Security Ministers, after consulting with the political parties and New Forces.
2004 saw serious challenges to the Linas-Marcoussis Accord. Violent flare-ups and political deadlock in the spring and summer led to the Accra III talks in Ghana. Signed on July 30, 2004, the Accra III Agreement reaffirmed the goals of the LMA with specific deadlines and benchmarks for progress. Unfortunately, those deadlines--late September for legislative reform and October 15 for rebel disarmament--were not met by the parties. The ensuing political and military deadlock was not broken until November 4, when government forces initiated a bombing campaign of rebel targets in the north. On November 6, a government aircraft bombed a French military installation in Bouake, killing nine French soldiers and one American civilian. Claiming that the attack was deliberate (the Ivoirian Government claimed it was a mistake), French forces retaliated by destroying most of the small Ivoirian air force. Mayhem ensued for several days as anti-French mobs rioted in Abidjan and violence flared elsewhere. On November 15, 2004 the United Nations Security Council issued an immediate arms embargo on Cote d'Ivoire and gave leaders one month to get the peace process back on track or face a travel ban and a freeze on their assets. In April 2005, South African President Thabo Mbeki invited the leaders to South Africa for an African Union-sponsored mediation effort. The result was the Pretoria Agreement, signed April 6, 2005. The Pretoria Agreement formally ended the country's state of war, and addressed issues such as disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, the return of New Forces Ministers to government, and the reorganization of the Independent Electoral Commission. A follow-up agreement in June 2005 laid out another framework for disarmament, elections, and the adoption of legislation required under the Linas-Marcoussis Accord.
In September 2005, the government postponed presidential elections scheduled for October 30, 2005. In October 2005, the UN Security Council, via UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1633, endorsed an African Union decision to extend the Linas-Marcoussis peace process for an additional 12 months. As called for under 1633, a new Prime Minister, Charles Konan Banny, was selected by the international community and given broad powers designed to reunify the country. Banny selected a new cabinet in December 2005 in collaboration with the opposition, the President, and the New Forces. In January 2006, militias loyal to President Gbagbo mounted violent protests against statements by the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) regarding the role of the National Assembly during the ongoing transition period. These protests threatened the independence of the Banny government and the ability of UNOCI and the International Working Group (created by the UN Security Council to oversee the peace process) to help the country achieve a stable, lasting reconciliation.
Initial steps toward disarmament and elections began in May 2006. The government began a pilot identification program for citizens and foreign residents lacking birth and nationality certificates. Government and rebel New Forces military formations began pre-groupment activities as a prelude to actual disarmament. Neither initiative was completed, and elections did not take place on October 31, 2006, as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1633. In November 2006, the UN Security Council issued a new resolution, 1721, which extended Prime Minister Banny's mandate for an additional 12 months. Prime Minister Banny was effectively blocked, however, from exercising control over the government as envisioned by the international community. President Gbagbo closed out 2006 with a speech to the nation in which he called for direct talks with the New Forces and the elimination of the Zone of Confidence.
Ouagadougou Political Agreement
On March 4, 2007, after weeks of closed-door negotiations led by Burkinabe President Compaore in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, President Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro announced they had agreed to a peace agreement aimed at reunifying the country and holding new elections. The Ouagadougou Agreement foresaw a new transitional government and the re-launch of the stalled voter registration and identification process to enable elections to be held within 10 months. It also called for the near-immediate elimination of the Zone of Confidence; the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former combatants; and for rebel and government forces to form a joint integrated Command Center which would implement the measures for the restructuring of the Defense and Security Forces.
At the end of March, Soro was named Prime Minister, and several days later, a new cabinet--consisting of most of the ministers from the previous cabinet--was named. Since then, UNOCI has withdrawn from within the Zone of Confidence, although still positioned on both sides, and six mixed brigades of New Forces, national Gendarmerie soldiers, and impartial forces were established. The Zone of Confidence was dismantled in September 2007, but both the mixed brigades and impartial forces continue to carry out patrols throughout the ex-Zone of Confidence. On June 29, 2007, an attack against Prime Minister Soro's aircraft occurred at the Bouake Airport, killing several persons in his entourage, but he escaped unharmed. Government ministries (particularly Health, Education, Finance, and Interior) and officials are returning to their posts in the northern part of the country, as are important economic actors, such as banks and utilities. The disarmament, demobilizaton, and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants has begun on a limited scale. As part of the DDR process, in January 2008, the Defense and Security Forces completed regroupment. In late 2009, cantonment of some New Forces had begun in Bouake, with preparations continuing in other areas of the north.
In September 2007, the first step in the identification of voters commenced when a series of mobile courts began issuing birth certificates to those who never had them. In April 2008, the government announced elections would be held on November 30, 2008. In early November 2008, those elections were postponed; a new date of November 29, 2009 was later set. In late December 2008, the parties to the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA) signed the fourth supplementary agreement to the OPA. Under the terms of this agreement, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration is to be completed two months before presidential elections. Citizen identification and voter registration continues to pose operational challenges. Identification and registration was launched nationwide in early December 2008 and proceeded fairly smoothly, although with some delays. On November 11, 2009, the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) announced that the elections scheduled for November 29 would again be postponed to allow for the completion of the registration process. No new election date was set at the time of postponement. A provisional electoral list was completed on November 10, 2009, to be posted at all election sites throughout the country. A 30-day dispute period was to begin when the lists had been physically posted, allowing anyone to challenge the names on the provisional list.
On February 12, 2010, President Gbagbo announced the dissolution of the government and the CEI, amid claims of fraud during the voter registration process. The decision, as well as frustration regarding several localized cases of mismanagement of the voter list, sparked riots in several cities outside of Abidjan that resulted in at least 12 deaths. Following several weeks of negotiations, a new government was announced and a new head of the CEI was appointed. No date for elections has been set.
Cote d'Ivoire's constitution of the Second Republic (2000) provides for a strong presidency within the framework of a separation of powers. The executive is personified in the president, elected for a 5-year term. The president is the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces, may negotiate and ratify certain treaties, and may submit a bill to a national referendum or to the National Assembly. According to the constitution, the president of the National Assembly assumes the presidency for 45-90 days in the event of a vacancy and organizes new elections in which the winner completes the remainder of the deceased president's term. The president selects the prime minister, who is the head of government. The cabinet is selected by and is responsible to the prime minister.
The unicameral National Assembly is composed of 225 members elected by direct universal suffrage for a 5-year term concurrently with the president. It passes on legislation typically introduced by the president, although it also can introduce legislation.
The judicial system culminates in the Supreme Court. The High Court of Justice is competent to try government officials for major offenses. There is also an independent Constitutional Council which has seven members appointed by the president that is responsible for, inter alia, the determination of candidate eligibility in presidential and legislative elections, the announcement of final election results, the conduct of referendums, and the constitutionality of legislation.
For administrative purposes, Cote d'Ivoire is divided into 19 regions and 90 departments. Each region and department is headed by a prefect appointed by the central government. In 2002, the country held its first departmental elections to select departmental councils to oversee local infrastructure development and maintenance as well as economic and social development plans and projects. There are 196 communes, each headed by an elected mayor, plus the city of Abidjan with 10 mayors.
Principal Government Officials
Prime Minister--Guillaume Soro
Foreign Minister--Jean-Marie Kacou Gervais
Ambassador to the U.S.--Yao Charles Koffi
Ambassador to the UN--Alcide Djedje
Cote d'Ivoire maintains an embassy at 3421 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007; tel: 202-797-0300.
Laurent Gbagbo has been President since October 26, 2000. Gbagbo took power following a popular uprising supporting his election victory after junta leader Gen. Robert Guei claimed a dubious victory in the 2000 presidential elections. General Guei had assumed power on December 25, 1999, following a military coup d'etat against the government of former President Henri Konan Bedie. In September 2002, a failed coup attempt evolved into an armed rebellion that effectively split the country in two. On March 4, 2007, President Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro, leader of the rebel forces known as the New Forces, signed the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA), a roadmap for the country's emergence from its political crisis. Soro became Prime Minister in April 2007. Presidential elections scheduled for November 2008 were postponed, rescheduled for November 2009, and postponed again that month. No new election date was set at the time of postponement. Many government institutions have resumed operation in areas under the control of the New Forces.
Cote d'Ivoire's relations with the U.S. have traditionally been excellent, but Section 608 restrictions have curtailed nonhumanitarian aid following the December 1999 military coup. The restrictions were not lifted following the 2000 elections due to questionable governmental interference before and during the election.
Looking toward the country's future, the fundamental issue is whether its political system following the upheavals of recent years will provide for enduring stability, which is critical for investor confidence and further economic development. The political system in Cote d'Ivoire is president-dominated. The prime minister concentrates principally on coordinating and implementing the 2007 Ouagadougou Political Agreement.
However, political dialogue is much freer today than prior to 1990, especially due to the opposition press, which vocalizes its criticism of the government. Beginning in 1990, Cote d'Ivoire evolved, with relatively little violence or dislocation, from a single-party state. Opposition parties, independent newspapers, and independent trade unions were made legal at that time. Since those major changes occurred, the country's pace of political change had been slow, prior to the period of turmoil ushered in by the December 1999 coup.
Whether further democratic reform will take place, adequate to meet future challenges, is unknown. As is generally true in the region, the business environment is one in which personal contact and connections remain important, where rule of law does not prevail with assurance, and where the legislative and judicial branches of the government remain weak. The political system is becoming less centralized, with the president stepping out of his role as ruling party leader, while attempting to decentralize many legislative functions. President Gbagbo has promised less executive interference in the judicial system, but it still lacks basic strength and independence.
Cote d'Ivoire has a high population growth rate, a high crime rate (particularly in Abidjan), a high incidence of AIDS, a multiplicity of tribes, sporadic student unrest, a differential rate of in-country development according to region, and a dichotomy of religion associated with region and ethnic group. These factors put stress on the political system and could become more of a problem if the government does not succeed in implementing the Ouagadougou Political Agreement and if the economy does not return to consistent growth.
The Ivoirian constitution affords the legislature some independence, but it has not been widely exercised. Until 1990, all legislators were from the PDCI. The December 2000 National Assembly election was marred by violence, irregularities, and a very low participation rate. Largely because of the RDR boycott of the election to protest the invalidation of the candidacy of party president Alassane Ouattara, the participation rate was only 33%. In addition, the election could not take place in 26 electoral districts in the north because RDR activists disrupted polling places, burned ballots, and threatened the security of election officials. Following the legislative by-elections in January 2001, 223 of the 225 seats of the National Assembly were filled. The FPI held 96 seats, the PDCI 94 seats, the PIT 4 seats, very small parties 2 seats, independent candidates 22 seats, and the RDR--in spite of its boycott of the legislative elections--5 seats.
Until it took the reins of government in the 2000 elections, the FPI party was the oldest opposition party. Moderate in outlook, it has a socialist coloration but one which was more concerned with democratic reform than radical economic change. It is strongest in the Bete ethnic areas (southwest) of President Laurent Gbagbo. The PDCI's "core" region may be described as the terrain of the Baoule ethnic group in the country's center and east, home of both Houphouet-Boigny and Bedie; however, the PDCI is represented in all parts of Cote d'Ivoire. Former members of the PDCI's reformist wing formed the originally non-ideological RDR in September 1994. They hoped that former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara would run and prevail in the 1995 presidential election, but Ouattara was subsequently disqualified by Bedie-sponsored legislation requiring 5-year residency. The RDR is now strongest in the mostly Muslim north.
The FPI and RDR boycotted the presidential election of October 1995 because of Ouattara's disqualification and the absence of an independent electoral commission, among other grievances. Their "active boycott" produced a certain amount of violence and hundreds of arrests, with a number of those arrested not tried for 2-1/2 years. These grievances remained unresolved, adding to the political instability leading to the 1999 coup and 2002 rebellion.
The Ivoirian economy is largely market-based and depends heavily on the agricultural sector. Between 60% and 70% of the Ivoirian people are engaged in some form of agricultural activity. The economy performed poorly in the 1980s and early 1990s, and high population growth coupled with economic decline resulted in a steady fall in living standards. A majority of the population remains dependent on smallholder cash crop production. Principal exports are petroleum, cocoa, coffee, pineapples, tuna, rubber, and tropical woods. Principal U.S. exports to Cote d'Ivoire are rice and wheat, plastic materials and resins, kraft paper, agricultural chemicals, telecommunications, and oil and gas equipment. Principal U.S. imports from Cote d'Ivoire are cocoa and cocoa products, petroleum, rubber, and coffee.
Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
Direct foreign investment plays a key role in the Ivoirian economy, accounting for between 40% and 45% of total capital in Ivoirian firms. France is overwhelmingly the most important foreign investor. In recent years, French investment has accounted for about one-quarter of the total capital in Ivoirian enterprises, and between 55% and 60% of the total stock of foreign investment capital.
By developing-country standards, Cote d'Ivoire has an outstanding infrastructure. There is a network of more than 8,000 miles of paved roads; good telecommunications services, including a public data communications network, cellular phones, and Internet access. There are two active ports. Abidjan's is the most modern in West Africa and the largest between Casablanca and Cape Town. A smaller port is located in San Pedro. There is regular air service between countries within the region and to and from Europe. Modern real estate developments exist for commercial, industrial, retail, and residential use. Abidjan remains one of the most modern and livable cities in the region. Its school system is good by regional standards and includes several excellent French-based schools and an international school based on U.S. curriculum.
Recent political and economic problems have delayed Cote d'Ivoire's planned public investment program. The government's public investment plan accords priority to investment in human capital, but it also will provide for significant spending on economic infrastructure needed to sustain growth. Continued infrastructure development has been brought into question because of private sector uncertainty. In the new environment of government disengagement from productive activities and in the wake of recent privatization, anticipated investments in the petroleum, electricity, water, and telecommunications sectors, and in part in the transportation sector, will be financed without any direct government intervention. A return to political and economic stability is critical if Cote d'Ivoire is to realize its potential in the region.
Major Trends and Outlooks
Since the colonial period, Cote d'Ivoire's economy has been based on the production and export of tropical products. Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries account for a substantial part of GDP and of exports. Cote d'Ivoire produces 40% of the world's cocoa crop and is a major exporter of bananas, coffee, cotton, palm oil, pineapples, rubber, tropical wood products, and tuna. The 1994 devaluation of the CFA franc and accompanying structural adjustment measures increased the international competitiveness of the agricultural, light industrial, and service sectors. However, reliance on commodity exports exposes the economy to the ups and downs of international price swings. To reduce the economic exposure to price variability, the government encourages export diversification and intermediate processing of cocoa beans. In recent years, petroleum exports have risen significantly, and petroleum is now the country's largest foreign exchange earner.
The 1994 devaluation of the CFA franc helped return Cote d'Ivoire to rapid economic growth until the slowdown evident by 1999. Increased aid flows, rigorous macroeconomic policies, and high international commodity prices, along with devaluation, yielded 6%-7% annual GDP growth rates from 1994-98. Cote d'Ivoire also benefited from Paris Club debt rescheduling in 1994, a London Club agreement in 1996, and the 1997 G-7 decision to include Cote d'Ivoire in the IMF- World Bank debt forgiveness initiative for heavily indebted poor countries.
In the past several years, economic decline has resulted in declining living standards. Falling commodity prices along with government corruption and fiscal mismanagement brought the economy to its knees by the end of 1999. At that point, the coup d'etat and the subsequent institution of the military junta government caused the loss of foreign assistance. Private foreign investment declined precipitously. Government internal and external debt ballooned. As a result, the Ivoirian economy contracted 2.3% in 2000. The government signed a Staff Monitoring Program with the IMF in July 2001, but plans for a subsequent Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility were disrupted by the onset of the crisis in September 2002.
The signs of economic and business recovery were encouraging in the mid-year of 2002, but the political and social crisis that began in September 2002 undermined all the efforts to resume cooperation with international donors. Economic growth has been negative or low each year since the outbreak of the armed rebellion in late 2002, with a cutoff of most external assistance (except humanitarian aid), mounting domestic and foreign arrears, and a drastic slowdown in foreign and domestic investment.
The World Bank announced in April 2008 that Cote d'Ivoire had paid fully its arrears, paving the way for new assistance. GDP growth reached 1.7% in 2007 and 2.3% in 2008, buoyed largely by growing oil and gas revenues. Strong economic growth is not expected until peace is firmly reestablished.
In March 2009, Cote d'Ivoire reached the decision point for debt relief under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The IMF approved a U.S. $565.7 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility. The IMF Board noted Cote d'Ivoire's satisfactory performance under its two Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance programs and called for continued reforms toward HIPC completion point.
THE NATIONAL SECURITY FORCES, MILITARY, AND GENDARMERIE
Since the outbreak of the rebellion in September 2002 that split the country, the military has reorganized. The former system that broke down the country into four military regions no longer exists. The more than 30,000-man Ivoirian Defense and Security Forces (FDS) include the army, navy, air force, gendarmerie, police, and other para-military forces (customs and water and forest police). The Joint Staff is assigned to the Ivorian National Armed Forces (FANCI) headquarters in Abidjan, commanded by a major-general. The 13,000-man FANCI is deployed in a series of six sub- headquarters that are generally arrayed along the ex-Zone of Confidence under the command of the Operations Theater Command based in Yamoussoukro. A large portion is still based in Abidjan.
The gendarmerie has approximately 12,000 men. It is a national police force which is responsible for territorial security, especially in rural areas. In times of national crisis the gendarmerie could be used to reinforce the army. The gendarmerie is commanded by a major-general.
Cote d'Ivoire has a brown-water navy whose mission is coastal surveillance and security for the nation's 340-mile coastline. It has a few patrol craft that operate in limited fashion along the coast and smaller vessels used to control immigration and contraband within the lagoon system. The operational capability of naval vessels has degraded since the war began and the navy is not able to carry out its assigned mission outside of the general area of Abidjan.
The Ivoirian Air Force's mission is to defend the nation's airspace and provide transportation support to the other services. As noted above, in response to an FDS attack on a French base in Bouake in November 2004, French Licorne peacekeeping troops destroyed most of the Air Force on the ground. Currently, the Air Force has two presidential jets, one transport/utility aircraft that is not regularly utilized, one utility helicopter, and one attack helicopter. The government sometimes contracts with civilian helicopter companies to transport government/military personnel in Cote d'Ivoire.
Although the customs, national police, and water and forest police are technically part of the FDS, they continue to conduct their normal functions and follow the instructions of their regular hierarchy. Operationally, police follow the commands of the Minister of Interior, Customs falls under the Ministry of Finance, and Water and Forest Police falls under the Ministry of Environment.
A mutual defense accord signed with France in 1961 provides for the stationing of French forces in Cote d'Ivoire. The 43rd Marine Infantry Battalion is based in Port Bouet adjacent to the Abidjan Airport. Shortly after the beginning of hostilities in September 2002, France established a stabilization force, eventually numbering several thousand, under "Operation Licorne." Previously, France had approximately 500 troops stationed in Cote d'Ivoire. In January 2003, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) placed approximately 1,500 peacekeeping troops from five countries-- Senegal (commander), Ghana, Benin, Togo, and Niger--on the ground beside the expanded French force. On April 4, 2004, ECOWAS troops became part of the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI), which was authorized under UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1528. The troops maintained the east-west ceasefire line dividing the country until the dismantling of the ex-Zone of Confidence in September 2007, at which time the strength was decreased. The French Licorne troops' primary mission as of 2008 was as a rapid reaction force for UNOCI. UNOCI and Operation Licorne have coordinated closely to fulfill the terms of UNSCR 1528 and subsequent resolutions. UNSCR 1739 extended the UNOCI and Licorne mandate until June 2007, UNSCR 1765 extended the mandate until January 2008, UNSCR 1795 extended the mandate until July 2008, and UNSCR 1842 extended the mandate until January 31, 2009. On January 27, 2009 UNSCR 1865 extended the mandate of UNOCI and Licorne until July 31, 2009; however, UNOCI troops would be drawn down by 10% and Licorne by a significantly larger margin. UNSCR 1865 reduced the level of authorized military personnel from 8,115 to 7,450. The mandate of UNOCI and French forces supporting it was most recently extended on June 30, 2010, set to expire on December 31, 2010.
A modest security assistance program that provides professional training for Ivorian military officers in the U.S. has been suspended as a result of sanctions under Section 608 of the Foreign Assistance Act. Ivoirian officers continue to participate in African and regional seminars funded by the U.S. Government, such as Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) and ECOWAS programs.
Throughout the Cold War, Cote d'Ivoire's foreign policy was generally favorable toward the West. The country became a member of the United Nations in 1960 and participates in most of its specialized agencies. It maintains a wide variety of diplomatic contacts. It sought change in South Africa through dialogue and was the first country accredited to post- apartheid South Africa. In 1986, Cote d'Ivoire announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Israel.
France remains Cote d'Ivoire's single most important foreign partner. President Houphouet-Boigny, who was a minister in the French Government prior to independence, insisted that the connection with France remain strong. Concrete examples of Franco-Ivoirian cooperation are numerous: French is Cote d'Ivoire's official language; Cote d'Ivoire adopted the French legal system; a French marine infantry brigade stationed in Abidjan augmented security; thousands of French expatriates continue to work and live in Cote d'Ivoire; and the CFA franc currency is tied to the euro. However, the September 2002 events injected strain into the relationship, as the Ivoirian Government criticized France for its perceived failure to uphold its commitment under the 1961 mutual defense treaty by helping government forces recapture rebel-held areas. However, the French did send additional forces--reaching a total of around 4,000 troops as of fall 2003--to secure the ceasefire line between regular government and rebel forces. The French contingent was joined by a force provided by various member states of ECOWAS that totaled over 3,000 as of fall 2003. In 2009, the French began the reduction of their troop level in Cote d'Ivoire. By June 2009, French Licorne was to number around 900. Anti-French riots erupted in Abidjan in late January-early February 2003, but bilateral relations subsequently improved amidst ongoing French military and diplomatic efforts to promote a peaceful resolution of the crisis. As noted above, relations with France deteriorated substantially after the events of November 2004, but have since improved markedly.
The Ivoirian Government has traditionally played a constructive role in Africa. President Houphouet-Boigny was active in the mediation of regional disputes, most notably in Liberia and Angola, and had considerable stature throughout the continent. In 1996-97 Cote d'Ivoire sent a medical unit to participate in regional peacekeeping in Liberia, its first peacekeeping effort. Cote d'Ivoire's hopes to expand its involvement in regional peacekeeping efforts were derailed by the December 1999 coup. Still a regional economic powerhouse, Cote d'Ivoire hopes to retake its place in promoting regional stability when the resolution of its current crisis permits. In May 2004, Cote d'Ivoire joined the Community of Sahel and Saharan States (CENSAD).
Cote d'Ivoire belongs to the UN and most of its specialized agencies; the African Union; West African Economic and Monetary Union; ECOWAS; African Mauritian Common Organization; Council of Entente; Communaute Financiere Africaine; Non-aggression and Defense Agreement; Nonaligned Movement; African Regional Satellite Organization; InterAfrican Coffee Organizations; International Cocoa Organization; Alliance of Cocoa Producers; African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries; and Association of Coffee Producing Countries. Cote d'Ivoire also belongs to the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank; it is an associate member of the European Union. Cote d'Ivoire joined the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 2001.
U.S.-Ivoirian relations have traditionally been friendly and close. Some strain initially resulted from the Section 608 restrictions on nonhumanitarian aid imposed on Cote d'Ivoire following the December 1999 coup. Because of Ivoirian governmental interference in the 2000 presidential elections, the Section 608 restrictions were not lifted. The U.S. participates in the international effort to assist Cote d'Ivoire in overcoming its current crisis, providing more than a quarter of the funding for the UN peacekeeping mission that helps to maintain the ceasefire. The U.S. has also provided modest economic support fund (ESF) assistance to promote democracy. The U.S. is sympathetic to Cote d'Ivoire's desire for rapid, orderly economic development as well as its moderate stance on international issues. Bilateral U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding, with the exception of self-help and democracy and human rights funds, has been phased out. The country remains a major beneficiary of U.S. assistance in combating HIV/AIDS, as it is one of 15 focus countries under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). With PEPFAR assistance totaling approximately $120 million in FY 2009, this is by far the largest U.S. assistance program in Cote d'Ivoire. Ivoirian eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was withdrawn in 2005 because of Government of Cote d'Ivoire actions in 2004.
The U.S. and Cote d'Ivoire maintain an active cultural exchange program, through which prominent Ivoirian Government officials, civic leaders, media representatives, educators, artists, and scholars visit the U.S. to become better acquainted with the American people and to exchange ideas and views with their American colleagues. This cooperative effort is furthered through visits to Cote d'Ivoire by representatives of U.S. business and educational institutions, experts in various fields, and Fulbright-Hays scholars. A new U.S. Embassy chancery compound opened in July 2005.
A modest security assistance program that provided professional training for Ivoirian military officers in the U.S. has been suspended by the Section 608 restrictions.
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Wanda L. Nesbitt
Deputy Chief of Mission--Julia Stanley
Management Officer--Robert Ensslin
Political/Economic Counselor--Mary Townswick
Economic Officer--Kendall Moss
Political Officer--Tanya Salseth
Consular Affairs Officer--Barbara Ensslin
Defense Attache--LTC Patrick Doyle
Public Affairs Officer--Sita Chakrawarti
The U.S. Embassy is located at Riveria Golf, Cocody, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (tel. 225. 22-49-4000, fax. 22-49-4323); mailing address is 01 B.P. 1712, Abidjan 01, Cote d'Ivoire.
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings. Country Specific Information exists for all countries and includes information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.
For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov/, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov/. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.
The Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.
The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4-USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778); TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793. Passport information is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. You may speak with a representative Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) and a web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/trav el/default.aspx give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. The CDC publication "Health Information for International Travel" can be found at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentYellowBook.aspx.
Further Electronic Information
Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at http://www.state.gov/, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website http://www.osac.gov/
Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.
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|Article Type:||Country overview|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2011|
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