Citizens of West Africa’s second-largest economy are for the first time experiencing the cooking-gas shortages and power cuts that used to be the preserve of their poorer neighbors. The country’s sizeable middle class has quietly begun to leave, while the number of street beggars has visibly increased. And an exodus of international banks from Ivory Coast prompted Gbagbo’s government to announce on Feb. 17 that it will nationalize two of the country’s biggest lenders. The question now, analysts say, is which of the two presidential claimants will best be able to capitalize on all of this social discontent.
The week began with the closures of the local units of BNP Paribas and U.S banking giant Citigroup, who cited security and liquidity concerns as their reasons for leaving the country. With other banks imposing a $100-a-day limit on cash machines, a run on banks ensued, prompting scuffles outside many larger branches. By Friday, all the international banks – including Standard Chartered Plc and Societe Generale – had shut shop.
“Nationalization is a sign of absolute desperation within Gbagbo’s regime,” a western diplomat tells TIME, asking to remain anonymous.
Read more here. Ivory Coast: Financial Noose Tightens As Defeated President Clings to Power, Time Magazine, Monica Mark
Q+A: Economic impact of Ivorian crisis on neighbors, Reuteurs Blog, Mark john
Waiting out a strongman in the Ivory Coast, FP Blog, Elizabeth Dickinson
Diamond Mining in Ivory Coast continues Unabated, The Israeli Diamond Industry
And also outside of Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda’s Museveni wins five-year term