Food crisis latest Ivorian concern

Dec. 29, 2010 at 7:32 AM

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The political impasse in the Ivory Coast is pushing impoverished citizens closer to poverty as food prices double during the crisis, bankers warn.

The U.N. Security Council has backed opposition leader Alassane Ouattara as the winner in a presidential election meant to unite a country divided by a 2002 civil war. Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, however, has refused to step down despite international pressure.

While the internationally community tries diplomacy to prevent the country from slipping back into civil conflict, street vendors, merchants and regular citizens are facing the brunt of the conflict as prices for such staple items as sugar, rice and flour soar, the United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN warns.

Ouattara, in an effort to pressure Gbagbo to step aside, called Monday for a general strike, though most Ivorians ignored the call in order to get some income during the crisis, the news agency warns.

The World Bank announced that it closed its Ivorian offices and stopped distributing funds. The African Development Bank warned in a joint statement with the World Bank that the political crisis in the Ivory Coast was hurting its citizens.

"The sustained crisis in the Ivory Coast will drive many more Ivorians further into poverty and hurt stability and economic prosperity in the West African sub-region," the statement said.

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