Ivory Coasts president Laurent Gbagbo was
Wednesday urged to set a date for elections in order to ensure
that an IMF debt relief programme goes ahead without
Former prime minister Alassane Ouattara, one of the
main opposition presidential contenders, told Emerging
Markets that conditions [to hold free and fair
elections] have already been met, and that there was no
excuse for postponing them further.
Ivory Coast will qualify for full debt relief once it
reaches a completion point i.e. fulfilled various fiscal
and policy criteria under the Funds Highly
Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
Most of the criteria have been met. The IMF last November
waived two criteria on the overall fiscal balance and on
the non-accumulation of new external payment arrears and
in March granted additional interim debt relief.
But it is understood that the Fund still sees the lack of
elections a stumbling block that prevents the return to
A date for the elections is expected to be set [...]
but may not fall before the second half of the year, a
recent IMF review paper said.
Ouattaras assessment was harsher. We have
heard all sorts of nonsense as an excuse not to go to the
polls. We have had enough, he told Emerging
Gbagbo recently visited Ouattara and former head of state
Henri-Konan Bédié, who is also seeking to regain
the presidency, and pledged that he [Gbagbo] was in
favour of elections by the end of 2010, Ouattara
But now, predicting an election date would be like a
one billion dollar question, Ouattara said:
We have to avoid military adventures and avoid that
violence flares up again in the Ivory Coast.
Ouattara, a former deputy managing director of the IMF, says
he met Fund chief Dominique Strauss Kahn last year to plead the
cause of the Ivory Coast recovery and do everything to
give a chance to the country not to carry this debt burden for
many years.But it is impossible to come to a conclusion with
the Bretton Woods institutions before the elections, he
Ivory Coasts planning minister Paul-Antoine
Bohoun Bouabre told Emerging Markets Wednesday in an
exclusive interview that the country is ready to re-engage with
international markets, following its civil war. We will
almost have a brand new country, he said. As soon
as we bring the external debt to a reasonable level, we will go
to the external markets to support the needs in infrastructure.
It is going to be a great plus, he said. A five-year, $20
billion investment programme is in place.
On elections, Bohoun Bouabre was non-committal. The
government is not responsible for the electoral process,
Ouattara questioned the credibility of official statistics
and remained highly critical of the current governments
economic management. Structural reforms have not been
implemented in several sectors. Only a democratically elected
government would be able to solve these problems.