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Economy of Cote d'Ivoire

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.

Infrastructure
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.

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. Total imports ($9.1 billion f.o.b.)--fuel, consumer goods, basic foodstuffs (rice, wheat), capital goods. Major suppliers-- Nigeria, France, China.

Geography of Cote d'Ivoire

Cote d'Ivoire is located on the south side of the West African bulge. Its 550-kilometer (340-mi.) coastline on the Gulf of Guinea has heavy surf and no natural harbors. A series of coastal lagoons fringes the southeast. The nation's capital was legally changed to Yamoussoukro in 1983, although the seat of government remains in Abidjan.

Abidjan is the commercial and population center of the country and also is the terminus of the 1,150-kilometer (716-mi.) railway that connects Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, with the Gulf of Guinea. Early 20th-century attempts to dig a canal through the sandbar blocking the Ebrie lagoon from the sea were unsuccessful, but in 1950 the Vridi Canal, begun in 1936, was completed. The canal opened the Port of Abidjan to deep-draft vessels, and traffic increased by 50% almost immediately. A second deepwater port, San Pedro, was dedicated in 1972.

In the western half of the country, dense forest extends to the sea; scrub savanna covers a narrow strip stretching from Fresco to the Ghana frontier. A lush tropical forest extends inland to a line about halfway between Dimbokro and Bouake; significant cash crops-coffee, cocoa, tropical woods, and bananas-are grown there. North of the forest lies an inland savanna zone of sandy soils, where vegetation is sparse and the landscape unbroken. Cotton is a key cash crop grown here. Only the Guinea Highlands in the northwest, which rise 1,460 meters (4,800 ft.) above sea level, break the monotony of the inland plain.

The southern part of Cote d'Ivoire falls into the tropical zone, with hot, humid weather and heavy rains. Daily temperatures vary from a minimum of 22 C (72 F) to a maximum of 32 C (91 F), and the heaviest rains generally fall between mid-April and mid-July, with a shorter rainy season in October and November. As one moves north from the coast, the weather gets drier and the climate grows more savanna-like. Temperature differences become more extreme, with nighttime temperatures in January dipping as low as 12 c (54 F) and daytime temperatures in the summer rising to above 40 C (well into the hundreds).

Official Name: Republic of 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.
Climate: Tropical

Government of Cote d'Ivoire

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.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS
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.

Political Parties
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.

Principal Government Officials
President--Laurent Gbagbo
Prime Minister--Guillaume Soro
Foreign Minister--Youssouf Bakayoko
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.

Type: Republic.
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, 58 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.

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History of Cote d'Ivoire

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 Assignee 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 by two related Akan groups--the Agnes, who occupied the southeast, and the Bales, 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, pacification was not accomplished until 1915.

French Period
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 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 representation in Africa or France.

During World War II, the 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 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.

Independence
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 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 remain 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.

Reunification Attempts
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, when UN peacekeepers (UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire, or UNOCI) were in place to provide security for rebel New Forces ministers. 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-Marcouissis 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. Violent protests mounted by militias loyal to President Gbagbo in January 2006 against statements by UNOCI regarding the role of the National Assembly during the ongoing transition period 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 Accord 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 ex-rebel and government forces to partially merge before the formation of a new army.

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 the Zone of Confidence and several mixed brigades of New Forces, national army soldiers, and impartial forces carry out joint patrols in its place. 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. 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. The disarmament, demobilizaton, and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants has begun on a limited, primarily symbolic scale. Both the government's armed forces and New Forces leadership no longer believe DDR will be completed before elections. An integrated command center has been created, but is not fully functioning and suffers from a lack of funding and direction.

People of Cote d'Ivoire

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. In November 2004, thousands of expatriates, African and non-African, fled from violence in Cote d'Ivoire. Subsequently, many expatriates slowly returned.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Ivoirian(s).
Population (2011 est.): 21,504,162.
Annual population growth rate: 3.8%, with immigration.
Ethnic groups: More than 60.
Religions (2008 est.): Muslim 38.6%, Christian 32.8%, indigenous 11.9%, none 16.7%.
Languages: French (official); 60 native dialects, of which Dioula is the most widely spoken.
Education: Years compulsory--school is not compulsory at this time. Attendance--57%. Literacy (2000 est.)--48.7%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--64.78 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy--56.8 years.

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About Us

Travel Document Systems, Inc. (TDS) is a leading visa and passport processing agency. For over 30 years we have served travel professionals, tour operators, and cruise lines, as well as corporate and individual international travelers. TDS specializes in travel that involves visas for more than one country.