Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Ivory Coast Leader Takes Office, Conflict Continues

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After an intense, months-long power struggle --- Ivory Coast officially has a new president. Alassane Ouattara took his oath of office Friday, by the same council that once refused to recognize his victory.

Reports say the ceremony was tense -- conducted by Constitutional Council President Paul Yao N'Dre -- an ally of the very resistant former president Laurent Gbagbo -- who swore in the incumbent leader leader last November after rejecting reports of Ouattara’s victory. (Video: CCTV)

But France 24 reports -- even with Ouattara in power -- the country is still in turmoil. And Gbagbo is yet to answer for his alleged crimes against humanity since the election.

“The former president was captured in a dramatic showdown with opposition troops, and has since been under house arrest in the country’s north. On Friday, he faces questions from a prosecutor for the first time. Its part of the criminal investigation.”

While Ivory Coast prosecutors question Gbagbo, the Wall Street journal reports a UN investigation has been launched to inspect the site of an alleged massacre in an Abidjan neighborhood.

“In the normally bustling district of Youpougon, two U.N. tanks guarded the short dusty road that led to a field where children once played soccer and marriage receptions were held. An official said at least 44 dead bodies were now buried in mass unmarked graves there, surrounded by looted shanty homes and a mosque with a caved-in roof.”

And moving forward, Ouattara will also have to address the financial health of Ivory Coast. Banks - reliant upon foreign money to fund exports --closed during the violent power struggle. The Financial Times reports -- it’s a slow recovery process.

“But as ports reopen and exports of cocoa, palm oil, rubber and oil pick up, the slow reopening of the banking system and the prospect of debt relief – as well as an injection of about $400m in back pay for civil servants and the promise of hundreds of millions of dollars from international donors – all count in the country’s favour.”

Friday’s swearing-in was a simple ceremony. A formal service will take place in Ivory Coast later this month.
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