Banks close doors in Ivory Coast

Feb. 16, 2011 at 12:30 PM
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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Two of the main banks in the Ivory Coast shut their doors as a political impasse drags on the financial security of the country, one of the banks said.

BNP Paribas in Paris, the parent bank of Ivorian BICIC, said in a statement that "legal uncertainty" created problems for normal financial activity in the country.

"It has thus decided to temporarily halt the bank's activities until further notice," the bank was quoted by CNN as saying. A division of Citibank followed suit.

Former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, the man recognized by the international community as the winner of a November election in the Ivory Coast, repeated calls for a boycott of cocoa this week to increase the pressure in incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.

The Ivory Coast is the world's largest exporter of cocoa, generating around $4.5 billion each year for the country economy.

Gbagbo refuses to step down despite international recognition that Ouattara won a November election meant to unite the country.

Civil war in 2002 divided the Ivory Coast into rebel-held north and pro-government south. African leaders trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the political crisis say the country is teetering on the brink of civil war once again.

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