Ivory Coast takes over foreign banks

Feb. 18, 2011 at 12:35 PM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Ivory Coast officials said they have taken control of foreign banks that suspended operations in the troubled African country.

Major banks, including Standard Chartered, BNP Paribas, Societe Generale and Citibank, suspended operations in the country this week, prompting the government takeover, the BBC reported Friday.

The takeover comes after sanctions meant to force incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to accept that Alassane Ouattara won last year's election. A U.N.-backed election commission said Ouattara won the election but the result was reversed by the country's Cabinet, and Gbagbo remains in power.

"President Laurent Gbagbo," a government statement said, "has made a decree that the Ivorian state take control, via a total and complete stake-holding in the capital of these banks."

Most of the cash machines in Abidjan are empty or out of commission, and cashing checks has been nearly impossible for several weeks, the BBC said.

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