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IFC Helps Bank of Africa Côte d’Ivoire Support Trade, Small Business Growth

Posted by African Press International on December 17, 2013

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, December 17, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has committed a $2 million trade finance guarantee to Bank of Africa Côte d’Ivoire and signed an agreement to provide the bank with advisory services to help it increase lending to smaller businesses in the country.

IFC’s support for BOACI will help hundreds of the bank’s small business clients gain financing to engage in cross-border trade, or to take loans to buy equipment or material for expansion. IFC’s advisory support program aims to help BOACI grow its portfolio of small business loans by 20 percent by 2016.

Lala Moulaye, Director General of the BOACI, said, “The trade finance guarantee from IFC will allow us to better support Côte d’Ivoire’s smaller importers and exporters. This partnership will help BOACI finance smaller businesses, grow its SME portfolio, and enhance its presence in international markets.”

Peer Stein, IFC Access to Finance Advisory Director, said, “IFC’s partnership with BOACI will help strengthen Côte d’Ivoire’s financial infrastructure and its small business sector, which plays a critical role in job creation and the health of the country’s economy. IFC is committed to Côte d’Ivoire’s long-term growth and our investments in the country are expected to total $250 million this fiscal year.”

IFC’s one-year advisory support program is specifically designed to help BOACI improve its market knowledge of the SME sector, roll out an SME strategy, and improve its risk management framework. IFC will also train about sixty BOACI staff on risk management and working with SMEs.

The $2 million trade finance facility, provided by IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program, will allow BOACI to establish working partnerships with a number of major international and regional confirming banks in the program, strengthening regional trade.

Although Côte d’Ivoire is one of the strongest and most diversified economies in West Africa, its smaller businesses still struggle to obtain the financing and support they need to expand or take on more employees.

IFC’s partnership with BOACI is part of its broader strategy to help Côte d’Ivoire’s smaller businesses more easily obtain financing and access training opportunities. IFC is also supporting growth in Côte d’Ivoire’s power, tourism, and agribusiness sectors and, with the World Bank, is advising the country on investment climate reforms.

 

SOURCE

International Finance Corporation (IFC) – The World Bank

 

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Violence against journalists condemned by UNOCI

Posted by African Press International on November 22, 2013

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, November 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire and Head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Mrs Aïchatou Mindaoudou, condemns the attack against Mr. Désiré Gnonsiohoué of Tomorrow Magazine, on 14 November 2013, which resulted in his death. UNOCI presents its condolences to the victim’s family, the Magazine, and the corporation of journalists in Côte d’Ivoire.

UNOCI expresses concern and condemns the kidnapping of Mr. Dieusmonde Tadé, a journalist with the daily newspaper, Le Nouveau Réveil, between 18 and 19 November 2013.

UNOCI urges the competent authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that those who carried these acts be identified and brought to justice.

UNOCI appeals to all those concerned to work to ensure freedom of information and expression, as well as the right to be informed through a free and plural press.

 

SOURCE

Mission of UN in Côte d’Ivoire

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Presenting its action plan to Chief of UNOCI

Posted by African Press International on November 18, 2013

The Association of Women Lawyers of Côte d’Ivoire presents its action plan to Chief of UNOCI

 

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, November 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Association of Women Lawyers of Côte d’Ivoire, led by its president, Mrs Aimée Zebeyoux, general advocate of the Supreme Court, on Wednesday, 13 November 2013, met with the head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Mrs Aïchatou Mindaoudou, at the Mission’s headquarters in Sébroko, Abidjan.

Mrs Aimée Zebeyoux said that they had come to present the action plan of their association to Mrs Mindaoudou. «We need to revise our texts and our status in accordance with the legal norms, to provide an impetus for legal consultation and rethink the Association of Women, » she said at the end of their discussions with the Special Representative.

In conclusion, the president of the Association pleaded for support from the UN Mission in order to implement their projects.

 

SOURCE

Mission of UN in Côte d’Ivoire

 

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Discussing possible collaboration

Posted by African Press International on November 18, 2013

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, November 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire and Head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Mrs Aïchatou Mindaoudou, on Wednesday, 13 November 2013, met with the head of a delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Georges Comminos.

Georges Comminos, who came to present the activities of the ICRC in Côte d’Ivoire, said he highlighted the areas in which the two organisations complement each other and the possibility of collaboration.

«The ICRC is an organisation independent of the United Nations. However there are areas, especially in terms of humanitarian action, for which we discussed developing responses for the communities living in Côte d’Ivoire. In prisons for instance where ICRC is very active and in the west of the country, where we have a number of humanitarian programmes, it is important to see how we can collaborate and draw up strategies complementary to the work of UN agencies and UNOCI in order to attain our objectives, » explained Mr. Comminos.

The head of the regional delegation of the ICRC said he was satisfied with the discussions and in general, the level of cooperation between ICRC and UNOCI and with the different humanitarian agencies of the United Nations.

 

SOURCE

Mission of UN in Côte d’Ivoire

 

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A long road ahead for justice in Côte d’Ivoire

Posted by African Press International on May 4, 2013

ABIDJAN,  – Wary of a backlash, Côte d’Ivoire’s government has hesitated to charge its own supporters of crimes committed during the 2010-2011 poll violence, something that has raised doubts about its commitment to impartial justice, say analysts. 

The government’s National Commission of Inquiry into the conflict has accused both the Côte d’Ivoire Republican Forces (FRCI – now part of the army) and fighters loyal to deposed president Laurent Gbagbo, of crimes. It said FRCI was responsible for 727 deaths while Gbagbo’s forces killed 1,452 people.

In June 2011, two months after taking power, President Alassane Ouattara set up the Special Inquiry Unit – a special court – to try violence suspects. Prosecutors have charged more than 150 Gbagbo supporters but just a handful from FRCI.

Analysts argue that this lack of even-handedness is due to Ouattara’s weak grip on the army which is largely made up of fighters who backed him during the poll chaos. Many of the fighters are also loyal to Guillaume Soro, a former rebel leader and now the National Assembly president.

Christophe Kouamé, head of the Ivoirian Civil Society Convention, said the slow pace of justice was because “social divisions are so deep that the president is certainly wary of rekindling conflict.”

“The one-sided approach to accountability is likely due in part to the president’s still tenuous hold over the entire military,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in an April report.

“Pursuing justice may prove to be deeply unpopular, including among segments of the population who believe that the forces loyal to President Ouattara who committed serious crimes were justified in doing so,” it added.

Only recently did the government go after its loyalists. In April, the trial of 33 FRCI troops – charged with crimes against the population, including premeditated murder, voluntary and involuntary homicide and theft – opened before a military court in the commercial capital Abidjan. Two soldiers were handed prison sentences on 2 May.

Other moves against FRCI members seem likely following the April exhumation of bodies from 57 mass graves across Abidjan. Thirty-six of those graves, containing the bodies of people killed during the post-election violence, are in the city’s Yopougon District which was a Gbagbo stronghold.

FRCI has also been accused of atrocities in the west. In March, a judge tasked with investigating a July 2012 attack on a camp for the displaced in the west of the country visited the scene to identify mass graves. According to the International Human Rights Federation (FIDH), there are 13 mass graves in 12 different sites containing the bodies of people who were summarily executed during the attack.

HRW West Africa researcher Matt Wells said the trial of the soldiers was “an important step forward in Côte d’Ivoire’s fight against impunity. But the Ivoirian authorities need to also pursue the more sensitive cases involving FRCI for which victims have seen no justice, particularly the grave crimes committed during the post-election crisis.”

A good start?

Observers and rights groups have urged the government to be even-handed in pursuing justice, to avert the threat of unrest. However, achieving equitable justice in Côte d’Ivoire is a long and difficult process, warned Kouamé.

“We should be realistic. Côte d’Ivoire has a long way to go. We are not going to change things in one or two years,” he told IRIN.

“The fact that the government is taking responsibility for the killings committed by the forces that supported it is a good thing. This is a good start.”

To attain fair justice, the government should target foot soldiers and low-level commanders in both the Ouattara and Gbagbo camps, and then work its way through the chain of command, Florent Geel of FIDH’s Africa bureau, told IRIN.

Such an approach would help “build the confidence of the victims in the system and also develop the experience and the expertise of the local judicial authorities to be able to go up the chain of command,” said Param-Preet Singh, senior international justice counsel at HRW.

“We are not asking for perfect justice immediately. Impatience will not help. But there is need for political will to move things forward, as well as concrete and visible proof that things are moving forward,” said Geel, stressing that the government “must demonstrate that people who committed crimes must be made accountable”.

However, another analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the government should instead go after senior commanders in both camps.

“You can’t try every Tom, Dick and Harry,” said the analyst. “The authorities should target top and middle-level people and focus on people that were in a position of command, [involved in] policy-making and financing.”

Transitional justice

More than a decade of violence and instability has heightened impunity and weakened the justice system in Côte d’Ivoire. “Impunity and lack of justice have led many people to conclude that there is no solution other than taking up arms,” said Geel.

Justice Minister Gnenema Coulibaly recently told reporters that the government inherited a dysfunctional justice system and announced a broad plan to reform the sector by 2015.

“A transitional justice process is vital for any country recovering from a situation like Côte d’Ivoire’s to ensure guarantee of non-repetition,” said Mohamed Suma, head of the International Centre for Transitional Justice office in Côte d’Ivoire.

“The risk of not doing anything is too much for the country,” he told IRIN.

In the second half of 2012, Côte d’Ivoire was rocked by a series of attacks targeting army bases, police stations and other targets in Abidjan and elsewhere. The government blamed the deadly raids on Gbagbo supporters exiled in Ghana and Liberia, but they deny responsibility.

In March, at least 14 people were killed in a spate of attacks in the country’s volatile western region where long-standing land and ethnic disputes have repeatedly sparked violence.

Simone Gbagbo

Côte d’Ivoire handed over Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in November 2011 for trial over crimes he allegedly committed during the post-election violence that claimed at least 3,000 lives, but it is yet to surrender Gbagbo’s wife, Simone, despite the court’s arrest warrant issued in November 2012. Simone Gbagbo is charged with crimes against humanity.

The government is concerned that Simone would be able to get in touch with former regime officials if she is out of its hands, a Western observer told IRIN on condition of anonymity.

“The authorities have two options: they can surrender Simone Gbagbo or challenge the admissibility of her case before the ICC. They have done neither,” said HRW’s Singh.

“It is okay to try her in Côte d’Ivoire if she can get a fair trial and if the ICC agrees that the national authorities have the ability to do so, but they have to respond.”

om/ob/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Calls for the tackling of unrest

Posted by African Press International on April 26, 2013

ABIDJAN,  – After recent attacks in Côte d’Ivoire’s volatile western region in which more than a dozen people were killed, the authorities announced new security measures, but observers say more than a military response is required.

In the latest spate of armed raids in March, at least 14 civilians and soldiers were killed. The region saw some of the worst fighting during the country’s 2010-2011 post-election conflict. In 2012, at least 10 civilians and seven UN peacekeepers were killed. Weeks later gunmen raided and torched the last remaining internally displaced persons (IDP) camp hosting some 5,000 people.

At the start of 2012 there were 186,000 IDPs in Côte d’Ivoire, most of them in the country’s western region. An estimated 45,000 people remained displaced by the end of 2012.

Ethnic rivalries, and disputes over land that are worsened by political rivalry, have turned western Côte d’Ivoire into a tinderbox. Mistrust and enmity have often degenerated into violence. Greater efforts are needed to reconcile communities, restore confidence and address grievances, say observers.

“The government must fully appreciate this problem and bring a lasting solution,” Francis Niangoran, a lecturer at Abidjan’s Sainte-Marie Teaching Institute, told IRIN. “Aid groups are faced with recurrent population displacements, organizing their return, distributing relief aid – it’s a vicious circle.”

While on a visit to the west following the attacks, Interior and Security Minister Hamed Bakayoko announced an emergency security plan to bolster troop numbers, set up attack brigades and equip them with modern radios as well as build an additional police station.

“When you travel across the region, you see ill-equipped soldiers. They don’t even have radios. The telephone network is also unreliable and they cannot use their mobile phones,” said Séraphin Zégnan, who fled the western Petit Guiglo area to the commercial capital Abidjan after an attack in the area in 2012.

Army chief Soumaila Bakayoko, also visiting after the attacks, said a permanent military base would be set up in the region. In 2012, the government formed a 600-strong force to secure the western region. The force is backed by both the UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire and the UN mission in neighbouring Liberia.

“The government has the will to end the instability in the west – only it seems to lack the military capacity to achieve that. The western region is a difficult zone to secure and there is need for better trained and better equipped troops,” said Rodrigue Koné of the Centre for Research and Action for Peace (CERAP), an Ivoirian organization.

Others are also sceptical about the military efforts.

“Moving from a security plan to an emergency security plan is to play with words rather than having a real will to resolve the problem. It is proof that the government is unable to contain the situation. It doesn’t know where and how to tackle the problem,” said Niangoran.

The Interior and the Defence Ministries declined to comment.

A matter of trust

Alexandre Neth Willy, secretary-general of the Ivoirian Human Rights League (LIDHO), told IRIN that the use of drones as recently requested by Côte d’Ivoire’s UN ambassador Bamba Youssoufou “will not be sufficient to solve the problem. The confrontations, recriminations and hatred are deeper [in the west] than in the rest of the country.

“On the one hand there’s a need to build confidence among the people themselves and on the other between the people and the army.”

CERAP’s Koné said: “Today the majority of the people in the west consider the army as the government’s militia. They have not overcome the events of the post-election crisis and the army has not been able to gain their confidence.”

He argued that the government should work to forge an army with a national outlook following the deep divisions caused by the post-election unrest.

Who are the gunmen?

Residents of the region – an area covering 73,000sqkm and home to nearly seven million people, or a third of the country’s population – say that apart from gunmen attacking from neighbouring Liberia, there are several armed groups operating inside the region with bases in the forests.

These militias fought for current President Alassane Ouattara during the violent dispute with his erstwhile election opponent Laurent Gbagbo, they say.

“The most famous of these armed groups is headed by Amadé Ourémi, a Burkinabé, who with his 1,000 fighters, is extending his area of operations without the slightest response from the authorities,” said Fabien Dotonin, an administrator in the western Duékoué District.

“The authorities in Abidjan make threatening statements about dislodging him. But once they come to the west, they neatly avoid talking about the problems caused by Ourémi or even meeting him, yet this is a typical case which if resolved will help a great deal in easing the security crisis,” he added.

Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan on 4 April said all those occupying government forests will be expelled by the army, but so far no action has been taken.

aa/ob/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

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