Compiled from the November 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.
Republic of Côte d’lvoire
Area: 322,500 sq. km. (124,500 sq. mi.); slightly larger than New Mexico.
Cities: Principal city—Abidjan (economic capital, de facto political capital). Capital—Yamoussoukro (official). Other cities—Bouake, Daloa, Gagnoa, Korhogo, Man, San Pedro.
Terrain: Forested, undulating, hilly in the west.
Nationality: Noun and adjective—Ivoirian(s).
Population: (2004 est.) 18,700,000.
Annual growth rate: 3.8%, with immigration.
Ethnic groups: More than 60.
Religions: Indigenous 10%–20%, Muslim 35%–40%, and Christian (Catholic, Protestant, and other denominations) 25%–35%.
Languages: French (official); five principal language groups.
Education: Years compulsory—school is not compulsory at this time. Attendance—57%. Literacy—51%.
Independence: August 7, 1960.
Government branches: Executive—president (chief of state and head of government). Legislative—unicameral National Assembly. Judicial—Supreme Court (3 chambers: judicial, administrative, auditing); Constitutional Council.
Political subdivisions: 19 regions, 58 departments, 196 communes.
Political parties: Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI), Parti Democratique de la Cote d’Ivoire (PDCI), Rassemblement des Republicaines (RDR), Union pour la Democratie et pour la Paix en Cote d’voire (UDPCI), numerous other smaller political parties operate in Cote d’voire.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
GDP: (2005 est.) $15.9 billion.
Annual real growth rate: (2005 est.) 0.8%. Real GDP declined by 3.8% in 2003 and rose by 1.6% in 2004.
Natural resources: Petroleum (offshore) discovered in 1977, production began in 1980; output in 2004 was 22,000 barrels per day. Gold mining began in early 1990s.
Agriculture: (27% of GDP, 2004) Products—cocoa, coffee, timber, rubber, corn, rice, tropical foods.
Industry: (21% of GDP, 2004) Types—food processing, textiles.
Services: (2004) 52% of GDP.
Trade: (2004) Exports (41% of GDP)—cocoa, coffee, timber, rubber, cotton, palm oil, pineapples, bananas. Major markets—U.S., France, Germany, Netherlands. Total imports (28% of GDP; U.S. imports, in 2003 $113.6 million)—consumer goods, basic foodstuffs (rice, wheat), capital goods. Major suppliers—France, Nigeria, Italy, U.S., Germany.
Cote d’Ivoire has more than 60 ethnic groups, usually classified into five principal divisions: Akan (east and center, including Lagoon peoples of the southeast), Krou (southwest), Southern Mande (west), Northern Mande (northwest), Senoufo/Lobi (north center and northeast). The Baoules, in the Akan division, probably comprise the single largest subgroup with 15%–20% of the population. They are based in the central region around Bouake and Yamoussoukro. The Betes in the Krou division, the Senoufos in the north, and the Malinkes in the northwest and the cities are the next largest groups, with 10%–15% each of the national population. Most of the principal divisions have a significant presence in neighboring countries.
Of the more than 5 million non-Ivoirian Africans living in Cote d’Ivoire, one-third to one-half are from Burkina Faso; the rest are from Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Liberia, and Mauritania. The non-African expatriate community includes roughly 10,000 French and possibly 60,000 Lebanese. As of mid-November 2004, thousands of expatriates, African and non-African, had fled from the violence in Cote d’Ivoire. The number of elementary school-aged children attending classes increased from 22% in 1960 to 67% in 1995
The early history of Cote d’Ivoire is virtually unknown, although it is thought that a Neolithic culture existed. France made its initial contact with Cote d’Ivoire in 1637, when missionaries landed at Assinie near the Gold Coast (now Ghana) border. Early contacts were limited to a few missionaries because of the inhospitable coastline and settlers' fear of the inhabitants.
In the 18th century, the country was invaded from present-day Ghana by two related Akan groups—the Agni, who occupied the southeast, and the Baoule, who settled in the central section. In 1843–44, Admiral Bouet-Will-iaumez signed treaties with the kings of the Grand Bassam and Assinie regions, placing their territories under a French protectorate. French explorers, missionaries, trading companies, and soldiers gradually extended the area under French control inland from the lagoon region. However, complete pacification was not accomplished until 1915.
Cote d’Ivoire officially became a French colony in 1893. Captain Binger, who had explored the Gold Coast frontier, was named the first governor. He negotiated boundary treaties with Liberia and the United Kingdom (for the Gold Coast) and later started the campaign against Almany Samory, a Malinke chief, who fought against the French until 1898. From 1904 to 1958, Cote d’Ivoire was a constituent unit of the Federation of French West Africa. It was a colony and an overseas territory under the French Third Republic. Until the period following World War II, goveernmental affairs in French West Africa were administered from Paris. France's policy in West Africa was reflected mainly in its philosophy of “association,” meaning that all Africans in Cote d’Ivoire were officially French “subjects” without rights to citizenship or representation in Africa or France.
During World War II, France's Vichy regime remained in control until 1943, when members of Gen. Charles de Gaulle's provisional government assumed control of all French West Africa. The Brazzaville Conference in 1944, the first Constituent Assembly of the French Fourth Republic in 1946, and France's gratitude for African loyalty during World War II led to far-reaching governmental reforms in 1946. French citizenship was granted to all African “subjects,” the right to organize politically was recognized, and various forms of forced labor were abolished.
A turning point in relations with France was reached with the 1956 Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre), which transferred a number of powers from Paris to elected territorial governments in French West Africa and also removed remaining voting inequalities.
In December 1958, Cote d’Ivoire became an autonomous republic within the French community as a result of a referendum that brought community status to all members of the old Federation of French West Africa except Guinea, which had voted against association. Cote d’Ivoire became independent on August 7, 1960, and permitted its community membership to lapse.
Cote d’Ivoire's contemporary political history is closely associated with the career of Felix Houphouet-Boigny, President of the republic and leader of the Parti Democratique de la Cote d’Ivoire (PDCI) until his death on December 7, 1993. He was one of the founders of the Rassemblement Democratique Africain (RDA), the leading pre-independence inter-territorial political party in French West African territories (except Mauritania).
Houphouet-Boigny first came to political prominence in 1944 as founder of the Syndicat Agricole Africain, an organization that won improved conditions for African farmers and formed a nucleus for the PDCI. After World War II, he was elected by a narrow margin to the first Constituent Assembly. Representing Cote d’Ivoire in the French National Assembly from 1946 to 1959, he devoted much of his effort to inter-territorial political organization and further amelioration of labor conditions. After his 13-year service in the French National Assembly, including almost 3 years as a minister in the French Government, he became Cote d’Ivoire's first Prime Minister in April 1959, and the following year was elected its first President.
In May 1959, Houphouet-Boigny reinforced his position as a dominant figure in West Africa by leading Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Upper Volta (Burkina), and Dahomey (Benin) into the Council of the Entente, a regional organization promoting economic development. He maintained that the road to African solidarity was through step-by-step economic and political cooperation, recognizing the principle of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other African states.
1999 Coup and Aftermath
In a region where many political systems are unstable, Cote d’Ivoire showed remarkable political stability from its independence from France in 1960 until late 1999. Under Felix Houphouet-Boigny, President from independence until his death in December 1993, Cote d’Ivoire maintained a close political allegiance to the West while many countries in the region were undergoing repeated mil-
itary coups, experimenting with Marxism, and developing ties with the Soviet Union and China. His successor, President Henri Konan Bedie, was familiar with the U.S., having served as Cote d’Ivoire's first ambassador to the U.S. Falling world market prices for Cote d’Ivoire's primary export crops of cocoa and coffee put pressure on the economy and the Bedie presidency. Government corruption and mismanagement led to steep reductions in foreign aid in 1998 and 1999, and eventually to the country's first coup on December 24, 1999.
Following the bloodless coup, General Guei formed a government of national unity and promised open elections. A new constitution was drafted and ratified by the population in the summer of 2000. It retained clauses that underscored national divisions between north and south, Christian and Muslim, that had been growing since Houphouet's death.
Elections were scheduled for fall 2000, but when the general's handpicked Supreme Court disqualified all of the candidates from the two major parties—the PDCI and Ras-semblement des Republicaines (RDR)—Western election support and monitors were withdrawn. The RDR called for a boycott, setting the stage for low election turnout in a race between Guei and Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) candidate Laurent Gbagbo. When early polling results showed Gbagbo in the lead, Guei stopped the process—claiming polling fraud—disbanded the election commission, and declared himself the winner. Within hours Gbagbo supporters took to the streets of Abidjan. A bloody fight followed as crowds attacked the guards protecting the presidential palace. Many gendarmes and soldiers joined the fight against the junta government, forcing Guei to flee. Having gained the most votes, Gbagbo was declared President. The RDR then took the streets, calling for new elections because the Supreme Court had declared their presidential candidate and all the candidates of the PDCI ineligible. More violence erupted as forces loyal to the new government joined the FPI youth to attack RDR demonstrators. Hundreds were killed in the few days that followed before RDR party leader Alassane Ouattara called for peace and recognized the Gbagbo presidency.
2001 Attempted Coup
On January 7, 2001, another coup attempt shattered the temporary calm. However, some weeks later, in the spring, local municipal elections were conducted without violence and with the full participation of all political parties. The RDR, which had boycotted the presidential and legislative elections, won the most local seats, followed by the PDCI and FPI. Some economic aid from the European Union began to return by the summer of 2001, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) re-engaged the government. Questions surrounding severe human rights abuses by the government during the presidential and legislative elections of 2000 remain unresolved (e.g., the mass grave at Yopougon), but day-to-day life began to return to normal. In August 2002, President Gbagbo formed a de facto government of national unity that included the RDR party.
2002 Country Divides
On September 19, 2002, rebellious exiled military personnel and co-conspirators in Abidjan simultaneously attacked government ministers and government and military/security facilities in Abidjan, Bouake, and Korhogo. In Abidjan, government forces stopped the coup attempt within hours, but the attacks resulted in the deaths of Minister of Interior Emile Boga Doudou and several high-ranking military officers. General Guei was killed under still-unclear circumstances. Almost immediately after the coup attempt, the government launched an aggressive security operation in Abidjan, whereby shantytowns—occupied by thousands of immigrants and Ivoirians—were searched for weapons and rebels. Government security forces burned down or demolished a number of these shantytowns, which displaced over 12,000 people.
The failed coup attempt quickly evolved into a rebellion, splitting the country in two and escalating into the country's worst crisis since independence in 1960. The rebel group, calling itself the “Patriotic Movement of Cote d’Ivoire” (MPCI), retained control in Bouake and Korhogo, and within 2 weeks moved to take the remainder of the northern half of the country. In mid-October 2002, government and MPCI representatives signed a ceasefire and French military forces already present in the country agreed to monitor the ceasefire line.
In late November 2002, the western part of the country became a new military front with the emergence of two new rebel groups—the Ivoirian Popular Movement for the Great West (MPIGO) and the Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP). MPIGO and MJP were allied with the MPCI, and the three groups subsequently called themselves the “New Forces.” In January 2003, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) placed approximately 1,500 peacekeeping troops from five countries—Senegal (commander), Ghana, Benin, Togo, and Niger—on the ground beside the 4,000 French peacekeepers. The troops maintained the east-west ceasefire line, known as the Zone of Confidence, dividing the country.
In late January 2003, the country's major political parties and the New Forces signed the French-brokered Linas-Marcoussis Accord (LMA), agreeing to a power-sharing national reconciliation government to include rebel New Forces representatives. The parties agreed to work together on modifying national identity, eligibility for citizenship, and land tenure laws which many observers see as among the root causes of the conflict. The LMA also stipulated a UN Monitoring Committee to report on implementation of the accord. Also in January 2003, President Gbagbo appointed Seydou Diarra as the consensus Prime Minister. In March 2003, Prime Minister Diarra formed a government of national reconciliation of 41 ministers. The full government did not meet until mid-April, when UN peacekeepers (UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire, or UNOCI) were in place to provide security for rebel New Forces ministers. On July 4, 2003, the government and New Forces militaries signed an “End of the War” declaration, recognized President Gbagbo's authority, and vowed to work for the implementation of the LMA and a program of Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR). On September 13, 2003, six months after the formation of the reconciliation government, President Gbagbo named politically neutral Defense and Security Ministers, after consulting with the political parties and New Forces.
2004 saw serious challenges to the Linas-Marcoussis Accord. Violent flare-ups and political deadlock in the spring and summer led to the Accra III talks in Ghana. Signed on July 30, 2004, the Accra III Agreement reaffirmed the goals of the LMA with specific deadlines and benchmarks for progress. Unfortunately, those deadlines—late September for legislative reform and October 15 for rebel disarmament—were not met by the parties. The ensuing political and military deadlock was not broken until November 4, when government forces initiated a bombing campaign of rebel targets in the north. On November 6, a government aircraft bombed a French military installation in Bouake, killing nine French soldiers and one American civilian. Claiming that the attack was deliberate (the Ivoirian Government claimed it was a mistake), French forces retaliated by destroying most of the small Ivoirian air force. Mayhem ensued for several days as anti-French mobs rioted in Abidjan and violence flared elsewhere. On November 15, 2004 the United Nations Security Council issued an immediate arms embargo on Cote d’Ivoire and gave leaders one month to get the peace process back on track or face a travel ban and a freeze on their assets. In April 2005, South African President Thabo Mbeki invited the leaders to South Africa for an African Union-sponsored mediation effort. The result was the Pretoria Agreement, signed April 6, 2005. The Pretoria Agreement formally ended the country's state of war, and addressed issues such as Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, the return of New Forces Ministers to government, and the reorganization of the Independent Electoral Commission. A follow-up agreement in June 2005 laid out another framework for disarmament, elections, and the adoption of legislation required under the Linas-Marcoussis Accord.
In September 2005, the government postponed presidential elections scheduled for October 30, 2005. In October 2005, the UN Security Council, via UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1633, endorsed an African Union decision to extend the Linas-Marcouissis peace process for an additional 12 months. As called for under 1633, a new Prime Minister, Charles Konan Banny, was selected by the international community and given broad powers designed to reunify the country. Banny selected a new cabinet in December 2005 in collaboration with the opposition, the President and the New Forces. Violent protests mounted by militias loyal to President Gbagbo in January 2006 against statements by UNOCI regarding the role of the National Assembly during the ongoing transition period threatened the independence of the Banny government and the ability of UNOCI and the International Working Group (created by the UN Security Council to oversee the peace process) to help the country achieve a stable, lasting reconciliation.
Initial steps toward disarmament and elections began in May 2006. The government began a pilot identification program for citizens and foreign residents lacking birth and nationality certificates. Government and rebel New Forces military formations began pre-groupment activities as a prelude to actual disarmament. Neither initiative was completed, and elections did not take place on October 31, 2006, as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1633. In November 2006, the UN Security Council issued a new resolution, 1721, which extended Prime Minister Banny's mandate for an additional 12 months. Prime Minister Banny was effectively blocked, however, from exercising control over the government as envisioned by the international community. President Gbagbo closed out 2006 with a speech to the nation in which he called for direct talks with the New Forces and the elimination of the Zone of Confidence.
Ouagadougou Political Agreement
On March 4, 2007, after weeks of closed-door negotiations led by Burkinabe President Compaore in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, President Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro announced they had agreed to a peace agreement aimed at reunifying the country and holding new elections. The Ouagadougou Accord foresaw a new transitional government and the re-launch of the stalled voter registration and identification process to enable elections to be held within 10 months. It also called for the near-immediate elimination of the Zone of Confidence; the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former combatants; and for ex-rebel and government forces to partially merge before the formation of a new army.
At the end of March, Soro was named Prime Minister, and several days later, a new cabinet—consisting of most of the ministers from the previous cabinet—was named. Since then, UNOCI has withdrawn from the Zone of Confidence and several mixed brigades of New Forces, national army soldiers, and impartial forces carry out joint patrols in its place. Government ministries (particularly Health, Education, Finance, and Interior) and officials are gradually returning to their posts in the northern part of the country, as are important economic actors, such as banks and utilities. In September 2007, a series of mobile courts began issuing birth certificates to those who never had them in a few areas of the country. This is the first step in identifying voters. No date has been set for national elections. The disarmament, demobilizaton, and reintegration of former combatants has begun on a limited scale. An integrated command center has been created, but is not fully functioning.
Cote d’Ivoire's constitution of the Second Republic (2000) provides for a strong presidency within the framework of a separation of powers. The executive is personified in the president, elected for a 5-year term. The president is the head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces, may negotiate and ratify certain treaties, and may submit a bill to a national referendum or to the National Assembly.
According to the constitution, the president of the National Assembly assumes the presidency for 45–90 days in the event of a vacancy and organizes new elections in which the winner completes the remainder of the deceased president's term. The president selects the prime minister, who is the head of government. The cabinet is selected by and is responsible to the prime minister.
The unicameral National Assembly is composed of 225 members elected by direct universal suffrage for a 5-year term concurrently with the president. It passes on legislation typically introduced by the president, although it also can introduce legislation.
The judicial system culminates in the Supreme Court. The High Court of Justice is competent to try government officials for major offenses. There is also an independent Constitutional Council which has seven members appointed by the president that is responsible for, inter alia, the determination of candidate eligibility in presidential and legislative elections, the announcement of final election results, the conduct of referendums, and the constitutionality of legislation.
For administrative purposes, Cote d’Ivoire is divided into 19 regions and 58 departments. Each region and department is headed by a prefect appointed by the central government. In 2002, the country held its first departmental elections to select departmental councils to oversee local infrastructure development and maintenance as well as economic and social development plans and projects. There are 196 communes, each headed by an elected mayor, plus the city of Abidjan with 10 mayors.
Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 2/1/2008
Pres.: Laurent GBAGBO
Prime Min.: Guillaume SORO
Min. of African Integration & Spokesperson of the Govt.: Amadou KONE
Min. of Agriculture: Amadou Gon COULIBALY
Min. of Animal Production & Fisheries: Alphonse DOUATI
Min. of Communications: Ibrahim Sy SAVANE
Min. of Construction, Urban Development, & Housing: Marcel Benoit Amon TANOH
Min. of Culture & Francophony: Komoe Augustin KOUADIO
Min. of Defense: Michel AMANI
Min. of Economic Infrastructure: PatrickACHI
Min. of Economy & Finance: Charles Koffi DIBY
Min. of Employment & Civil Service: Hubert OULAYE
Min. of Environment, Water Resources, & Forests: Daniel Ayissi AKA
Min. of Family, Women, & Social Affairs: Adjoua Jeanne Brou PEUHMOND
Min. of the Fight Against HIV/AIDS: Christine ADJOBI
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Youssouf BAKAYOKO
Min. of Higher Education & Scientific Research: Ibrahima CISSE
Min. of Industry & Private Sector Promotion: Amah Marie TEHOUA
Min. of Interior: Desire TAGRO
Min. of Justice & Human Rights & Keeper of the Seal: Mamadou KONE
Min. of Mines & Energy: Leon Emmanuel MONNET
Min. of National Education: Gilbert BLEU-LAINE
Min. of National Reconciliation & Institutional Relations: Sebastien Dano DJEDJE
Min. of New Technologies, Information, & Communication: Hamed BAKAYOKO
Min. of Planning & Development: Paul Antoine Bohoun BOUABRE
Min. of Public Health: Remi Allah KOUADIO
Min. of Reconstruction & Reintegration:Fatoumata BAMBA-HAMZA
Min. of Solidarity & War Victims: Louis Andre DAKOURY-TABLEY
Min. of Technical Education & Vocational Training: Moussa DOSSO
Min. of Territorial Admin.: Daniel Cheik BAMBA
Min. of Tourism & Handicrafts: Sidike KONATE
Min. of Trade & Commerce: Youssouf SOUMAHORO
Min. of Transportation: Albert Mabri TOIKEUSSE
Min. of Urban Development & Hygiene:Theodore Mel EG
Min. of Youth, Sports, & Leisure: Dagobert BANZIO
Ambassador to the US: Yao Charles KOFFI
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alcide Ilahiri DJEDJE
Cote d’Ivoire maintains an embassy at 3421 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007; tel: 202-797-0300.
Laurent Gbagbo has been President since October 26, 2000. Gbagbo took power following a popular uprising supporting his election victory after junta leader Gen. Robert Guei claimed a dubious victory in the 2000 presidential elections. General Guei had assumed power on December 25, 1999, following a military coup d'etat against the government of former President Henri Konan Bedie. Coup attempts in 2001 and 2002 escalated into a rebellion and crisis which culminated in the January 2003 signing of an accord for a power-sharing national reconciliation government. Implementation of the 2003 accord has made halting progress, and Cote d’Ivoire remains divided, with rebels occupying the northern half of the country. French Licorne and UNOCI peacekeeping troops observe a green line between government and New Forces positions.
Cote d’Ivoire's relations with the U.S. have traditionally been excellent, but have been somewhat strained since Section 508 restrictions curtailed nonhumanitarian aid following the December 1999 military coup. The restrictions were not lifted following the 2000 elections due to questionable governmental interference before and during the election.
Looking toward the country's future, the fundamental issue is whether its political system following the upheavals of recent years will provide for enduring stability, which is critical for investor confidence and further economic development. The political system in Cote d’Ivoire is president-dominated. The prime minister concentrates principally on coordinating and implementing the Ouagadougou Political Agreement.
However, political dialogue is much freer today than prior to 1990, especially due to the opposition press, which vocalizes its criticism of the regime. Beginning in 1990, Cote d′Ivoire evolved, with relatively little violence or dislocation, from a singleparty state. Opposition parties, independent newspapers, and independent trade unions were made legal at that time. Since those major changes occurred, the country's pace of political change had been slow, prior to the period of turmoil ushered in by the December 1999 coup.
Whether further democratic reform will take place, adequate to meet future challenges, is unknown. As is generally true in the region, the business environment is one in which personal contact and connections remain important, where rule of law does not prevail with assurance, and where the legislative and judicial branches of the government remain weak. The political system is becoming less centralized, with the president stepping out of his role as ruling party leader, while attempting to decentralize many legislative functions. President Gbagbo has promised less executive interference in the judicial system, but it still lacks basic strength and independence.
Cote d’Ivoire has a high population growth rate, a high crime rate (particularly in Abidjan), a high incidence of AIDS, a multiplicity of tribes, sporadic student unrest, a differential rate of in-country development according to region, and a dichotomy of religion associated with region and ethnic group. These factors put stress on the political system and could become more of a problem if the government does not succeed in implementing the Ouagadougou Political Agreement and if the economy does not return to consistent growth.
The Ivoirian constitution affords the legislature some independence, but it has not been widely exercised. Until 1990, all legislators were from the PDCI. The December 2000 National Assembly election was marred by violence, irregularities, and a very low participation rate. Largely because of the RDR boycott of the election to protest the invalidation of the candidacy of party president Alassane Ouattara, the participation rate was only 33%. In addition, the election could not take place in 26 electoral districts in the north because RDR activists disrupted polling places, burned ballots, and threatened the security of election officials. Following the legislative by-elections in January 2001, 223 of the 225 seats of the National Assembly were filled. The FPI held 96 seats, the PDCI 94 seats, the PIT 4 seats, very small parties 2 seats, independent candidates 22 seats, and the RDR—in spite of its boycott of the legislative elections—5 seats.
Until it took the reins of government in the 2000 elections, the FPI party was the oldest opposition party. Moderate in outlook, it has a socialist coloration but one which was more concerned with democratic reform than radical economic change. It is strongest in the Bete ethnic areas (southwest) of President Laurent Gbagbo. The PDCI's “core” region may be described as the terrain of the Baoule ethnic group in the country's center and east, home of both Houphouet-Boigny and Bedie; however, the PDCI is represented in all parts of Cote d’Ivoire. Former members of the PDCI's reformist wing formed the originally non-ideological RDR in September 1994. They hoped that former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara would run and prevail in the 1995 presidential election, but Ouattara was subsequently disqualified by Bedie-sponsored legislation requiring 5-year residency. The RDR is now strongest in the mostly Muslim north. The FPI and RDR boycotted the presidential election of October 1995 because of Ouattara's disqualification and the absence of an independent electoral commission, among other grievances. Their “active boycott” produced a certain amount of violence and hundreds of arrests, with a number of those arrested not tried for 2-1/2 years. These grievances remained unresolved, adding to the political instability leading to the 1999 coup and 2002 rebellion.
The Ivoirian economy is largely market-based and depends heavily on the agricultural sector. Between 60% and 70% of the Ivoirian people are engaged in some form of agricultural activity. The economy performed poorly in the 1980s and early 1990s, and high population growth coupled with economic decline resulted in a steady fall in living standards. A majority of the population remains dependent on smallholder cash crop production. Principal exports are petroleum, cocoa, coffee, cotton, pineapples, tuna, and tropical woods. Principal U.S. exports are rice and wheat, plastic materials and resins, kraft paper, agricultural chemicals, telecommunications, and oil and gas equipment. Principal U.S. imports are cocoa and cocoa products, petroleum, rubber, and coffee.
Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
Direct foreign investment plays a key role in the Ivoirian economy, accounting for between 40% and 45% of total capital in Ivoirian firms. France is overwhelmingly the most important foreign investor. In recent years, French investment has accounted for about one-quarter of the total capital in Ivoirian enterprises, and between 55% and 60% of the total stock of foreign investment capital.
By developing country standards, Cote d’Ivoire has an outstanding infrastructure. There is an excellent network of more than 8,000 miles of paved roads; good telecommunications services, including a public data communications network, cellular phones, and Internet access. There are two active ports. Abidjan's is the most modern in West Africa and the largest between Casablanca and Cape Town. There is regular air service within the region and to and from Europe and modern real estate developments for commercial, industrial, retail, and residential use. Abidjan remains one of the most modern and livable cities in the region. Its school system is good by regional standards and includes an international school—whose enrollment dropped sharply due to the November 2004 crisis—based on U.S. curriculum and several excellent French-based schools. Recent political and economic problems have delayed Cote d’Ivoire's planned public investment program. The government's public investment plan accords priority to investment in human capital, but it also will provide for significant spending on economic infrastructure needed to sustain growth. Continued infrastructure development has been brought into question because of private sector uncertainty. In the new environment of government disengagement from productive activities and in the wake of recent privatization, anticipated investments in the petroleum, electricity, water, and telecommunications sectors, and in part in the transportation sector, will be financed without any direct government intervention. A return to political and economic stability is critical if Cote d’Ivoire is to realize its potential in the region.
Major Trends and Outlooks
Since the colonial period, Cote d’Ivoire's economy has been based on the production and export of tropical products. Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries account for a substantial part of GDP and of exports. Cote d’Ivoire produces 40% of the world's cocoa crop and is a major exporter of bananas, coffee, cotton, palm oil, pineapples, rubber, tropical wood products, and tuna. The 1994 devaluation of the CFA franc and accompanying structural adjustment measures increased the international competitiveness of the agricultural, light industrial, and service sectors. However, reliance on commodity exports exposes the economy to the ups and downs of international price swings. To reduce the economic exposure to price variability, the government encourages export diversification and intermediate processing of cocoa beans. In recent years, petroleum exports have risen significantly, and petroleum is now the country's largest foreign exchange earner.
The 1994 devaluation of the CFA franc helped return Cote d’Ivoire to rapid economic growth until the slowdown evident by 1999. Increased aid flows, rigorous macroeconomic policies, and high international commodity prices, along with devaluation, yielded 6%-7% annual GDP growth rates from 1994–98. Cote d’Ivoire also benefited from Paris Club debt rescheduling in 1994, a London Club agreement in 1996, and the 1997 G-7 decision to include Cote d’Ivoire in the IMF-World Bank debt forgiveness initiative for highly indebted poor countries.
In the past several years, economic decline has resulted in declining living standards. Falling commodity prices along with government corruption and fiscal mismanagement brought the economy to its knees by the end of 1999. At that point, the coup d'etat and the subsequent institution of the military junta government caused the loss of foreign assistance. Private foreign investment declined precipitously. Government internal and external debt ballooned. As a result, the Ivoirian economy contracted 2.3% in 2000. The government signed a Staff Monitoring Program with the IMF in July 2001, but plans for a subsequent Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility were disrupted by the onset of the crisis in September 2002. The signs of economic and business recovery were encouraging in the mid-year of 2002, but the political and social crisis that began in September 2002 undermined all the efforts to resume cooperation with international donors. The economy has been in a slow decline since the outbreak of the armed rebellion in late 2002, with a cutoff of most external assistance (except humanitarian aid), mounting domestic and foreign arrearages, and a drastic slowdown in foreign and domestic investment.
The country is in substantial arrears to the World Bank and other international financial institutions. GDP growth is anemic, reaching 1.6% in 2005, buoyed largely by growing oil and gas revenues, along with steady cocoa exports. Strong economic growth is not expected until peace is firmly reestablished and international financial institutions conclude agreements to reduce the country's large debt profile. However, with the gradual reintegration of the country, the economy in the north may begin to revive after a prolonged slump caused by the four-year-long division of the country.
Since the outbreak of the rebellion in September 2002 that split the country, the military has reorganized. The former system that broke down the country into four military regions no longer exists. The 21,000-man Ivoirian armed forces (formerly FANCI, now called the Ivorian Defense and Security Forces—FDS) include an army, navy, air force, gendarmerie, and specialized forces. The Joint Staff is assigned to the FDS headquarters in Abidjan.
The gendarmerie has 8,000 men. It is a national police force which is responsible for territorial security, especially in rural areas. In times of national crisis the gendarmerie could be used to reinforce the army. The gendarmerie is commanded by a brigadier-general.
Cote d’Ivoire has a brown-water navy whose mission is coastal surveillance and security for the nation's 340-mile coastline. It has patrol craft that operate in limited fashion along the coast and smaller vessels used to control immigration and contraband within the lagoon system. The operational capability of naval vessels has degraded since the war began.
The Ivoirian Air Force's mission is to defend the nation's airspace and provide transportation support to the other services. As noted above, in response to an FDS attack on a French base in Bouake in November 2004, French Licorne peacekeeping troops destroyed most of the Air Force on the ground. Currently, the Air Force has one transport/utility aircraft, two utility helicopters, and one attack helicopter.
A mutual defense accord signed with France in 1961 provides for the stationing of French forces in Cote d’Ivoire. The 43rd Marine Infantry Battalion is based in Port Bouet adjacent to the Abidjan Airport. Shortly after the beginning of hostilities in September 2002, France established a stabilization force, currently 3,000 troops, under “Operation Licorne.” Previously, France had approximately 500 troops stationed in Cote d’Ivoire. In January 2003, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) placed approximately 1,500 peacekeeping troops from five countries-Senegal (commander), Ghana, Benin, Togo, and Niger-on the ground beside the French peacekeepers. The troops maintained the east-west ceasefire line dividing the country. On April 4, 2004, ECOWAS troops became part of the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) which was authorized under UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1528. The authorized strength of the UNOCI operation is 8,115 personnel. UNOCI and Operation Licorne coordinate closely to fulfill the terms of UNSCR 1528 and subsequent resolutions. UNSCR 1739 extended the UNOCI and Licorne mandate until June 2007, and UNSCR 1765 extended the mandate until January 2008.
Throughout the Cold War, Cote d′Ivoire's foreign policy was generally favorable toward the West. The country became a member of the United Nations in 1960 and participates in most of its specialized agencies. It maintains a wide variety of diplomatic contacts. It sought change in South Africa through dialogue and was the first country accredited to post-apartheid South Africa. In 1986, Cote d′Ivoire announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Israel.
France remains Cote d′Ivoire's single most important foreign partner. President Houphouet-Boigny, who was a minister in the French Government prior to independence, insisted that the connection with France remain strong. Concrete examples of Franco-Ivoirian cooperation are numerous: French is Cote d′Ivoire's official language; Cote d′Ivoire adopted the French legal system; a French marine infantry brigade stationed in Abidjan augmented security; thousands of French expatriates continue to work and live in Cote d′Ivoire; and the CFA franc currency is tied to the euro. However, the September 2002 events injected strain into the relationship, as the Ivoirian Government criticized France for its perceived failure to uphold its commitment under the 1961 mutual defense treaty by helping government forces recapture rebel-held areas. However, the French did send additional forces—reaching a total of around 4,000 troops as of fall 2003—to secure the ceasefire line between regular government and rebel forces. The French contingent was joined by a force provided by various member states of ECOWAS that totaled over 3,000 as of fall 2003. Anti-French riots erupted in Abidjan in late January-early February 2003, but bilateral relations subsequently improved amidst ongoing French military and diplomatic efforts to promote a peaceful resolution of the crisis. As noted above, relations with France deteriorated substantially after the events of November 2004.
The Ivoirian Government has traditionally played a constructive role in Africa. President Houphouet-Boigny was active in the mediation of regional disputes, most notably in Liberia and Angola, and had considerable stature throughout the continent. In 1996-97 Cote d′Ivoire sent a medical unit to participate in regional peacekeeping in Liberia, its first peacekeeping effort. Cote d′Ivoire's hopes to expand its involvement in regional peacekeeping efforts were derailed by the December 1999 coup. Still a regional economic powerhouse, Cote d′Ivoire hopes to retake its place in promoting regional stability when the resolution of its current crisis permits. In May 2004, Cote d′Ivoire joined the Community of Sahel and Saharan States (CENSAD).
Cote d’Ivoire belongs to the UN and most of its specialized agencies; the African Union; West African Economic and Monetary Union; ECO-WAS; African Mauritian Common Organization; Council of Entente Communaute Financiere Africane; Non-aggression and Defense Agreement; Nonaligned Movement; African Regional Satellite Organization; InterAfrican Coffee Organizations; International Cocoa Organization; Alliance of Cocoa Producers; African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries; and Association of Coffee Producing Countries. Cote d’Ivoire also belongs to the European Investment Bank and the African Development Bank; it is an associate member of the European Union.
U.S.-Ivoirian relations have traditionally been friendly and close. Some strain has resulted from the Section 508 restrictions on nonhumanitarian aid imposed on Cote d’Ivoire following the December 1999 coup. Because of Ivoirian governmental interference in the 2000 presidential elections, the Section 508 restrictions were not lifted. The U.S. participates in the international effort to assist Cote d’Ivoire in overcoming its current crisis, providing more than a quarter of the funding for the UN peacekeeping mission that helps to maintain the ceasefire. The U.S. has also provided modest economic support fund (ESF) assistance to promote democracy. The U.S. is sympathetic to Cote d’Ivoire's desire for rapid, orderly economic development as well as its moderate stance on international issues. Bilateral U.S. Agency for International Development funding, with the exception of self-help and democracy and human rights funds, has been phased out, although Cote d’Ivoire continues to benefit to a limited extent from regional West African programs. The country remains a major beneficiary of U.S. assistance in combating HIV/AIDS, as it is one of 15 focus countries under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). With assistance under PEPFAR likely to total some $85 million in FY 2007, this is by far the largest U.S. assistance program in Cote d’Ivoire. Ivoirian eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been with-drawn, following the political impasse resulting from the 2002 rebellion.
The U.S. and Cote d’Ivoire maintain an active cultural exchange program, through which prominent Ivoirian Government officials, media representatives, educators, and scholars visit the U.S. to become better acquainted with the American people and to exchange ideas and views with their American colleagues. This cooperative effort is furthered through frequent visits to Cote d’Ivoire by representatives of U.S. business and educational institutions, and by visits of Fulbright-Hays scholars and specialists in various fields. A new U.S. Embassy chancery compound opened in July 2005.
A modest security assistance program that provides professional training for Ivoirian military officers in the U.S. has been suspended by the Section 508 restrictions.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Last Updated: 2/19/2008
ABIDJAN (E) Riviera Golf, 01 B.P. 1712, Abidjan 01, Cote d’Ivoire, APO/FPO 2010 Abidjan Place, Dulles, VA 20189-2010, (225) 22.49.40.00, Fax (225) 184.108.40.206, INMARSAT Tel 8816-3145-4594 (Iridium), Work-week: M-F 8:00-17:00, Website: http://abidjan.usembassy.gov.
|DCM OMS:||Christney Fail|
|AMB OMS:||Nancy Alain|
|CDC:||Dr.:Bruce B. Struminger|
|RSO:||Francis J. Bray|
|DAO:||Col. Patrick Doyle|
Consular Information Sheet
January 14, 2008
Country Description: Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is a developing country on the western coast of Africa. The official capital is Yamoussoukro, but Abidjan is the largest city, the main commercial center, and where the Ivorian government and the U.S. Embassy are located. Cote d’Ivoire is a republic whose constitution provides for separate branches of government under a strong president.
The country has experienced continued, periodic episodes of political unrest and violence, sometimes directed against foreigners, since 2002 when a failed coup attempt evolved into an armed rebellion that split the country in two. Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro signed the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA) in March 2007 and a new government was formed with Soro as Prime Minister. Implementation of the accord has been slow and although the political situation has improved, it still has not returned to normal. UN and French peacekeepers remain in the country.
Tourist facilities in and near Abidjan, the commercial capital, are good; accommodations in many other locations are limited in quality and availability.
Entry Requirements: A passport is required, but U.S. citizens traveling to Cote d’Ivoire for business or tourism do not require visas for stays of 90 days or less. To stay longer than 90 days, the visitor may still enter without a visa, but then must apply for a “visa de sejour” at the National Police Headquaters within 90 days of arrival. If the intent is to establish a residence in Cote d’Ivoire, the visitor must apply for a “carte de sejour” at the Office d'Identification Nationale (Note: “Cartes de sejour” are not issued to children under the age of 16, who are documented on their parents' visas). An international health certificate showing current yellow fever immunization is required for entry into Cote d’Ivoire. Without it, the traveler may be required to submit to vaccination at the airport health office before clearing immigration, at a cost of 5,000 CFA (a little over $10). Travelers may obtain the latest information and details on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, 2424 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007, telephone (202) 797-0300. There are honorary consulates for Cote d’Ivoire in San Francisco, Stamford, Orlando, Houston and Detroit. Overseas, travelers should inquire at the nearest Ivorian embassy or consulate.
Foreign travelers are sometimes approached at ports of entry by individuals with offers to expedite passport control and customs, and are then asked to pay an exorbitant fee, both for the service and for the passport and customs officers. Travelers to Cote d’Ivoire are advised that there is no need to pay a police officer or customs officer at the airport for any service rendered during an arrival or departure, and they should not surrender their passports or other important documents to anyone except easily identifiable government officials in uniform.
Safety and Security: Cote d’Ivoire has been unstable since a coup in 1999, and territorially divided since 2002. Although the Zone of Confidence dividing the country was abolished following the signing of the OPA, the New Forces effectively still control the northern and some western parts of the country. There are many road checkpoints manned by security forces and militia in both the government-controlled and New Forces-controlled portions of the country. Soldiers and militia members check documents and frequently demand cash for permission to pass. Cote d’Ivoire's border with Liberia is open, but border controls are extensive.
Political instability has contributed to economic stagnation and high unemployment, exacerbating social tensions and creating the potential for labor unrest and civil disorder. There have been recurring episodes of violence, some of them severe. In November 2004, there was a brief resumption of hostilities followed by widespread attacks against people and property in Abidjan and elsewhere. Many of these attacks were directed against French and other expatriates, and thousands fled the country. Brief episodes of significant civil unrest in Abidjan and some of the other population centers occurred in late 2005 and again in late 2006. Americans should avoid crowds and demonstrations, be aware of their surroundings, and use common sense to avoid situations and locations that could be dangerous. While the OPA serves as a roadmap to steer the country out of its political crisis, coup attempts or the resumption of hostilities, although unlikely, could occur.
Swimming in coastal waters is dangerous and strongly discouraged, even for excellent swimmers. The ocean currents along the coast are powerful and treacherous, and numerous people drown each year.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs' web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.
Crime: Crime continues to be a major security threat for Americans living in Cote d’Ivoire. Grab-and-run street crime and pick pocketing in crowded areas are widespread. Armed carjacking, robberies of businesses and restaurants, and home invasions are common, and they often target expatriate residents who are perceived as wealthy. Armed criminals use force when faced with resistance. Travelers displaying jewelry and carrying cameras are especially at risk. Travelers are advised to carry limited amounts of cash and only photocopies of key documents. While there have been relatively few reported cases of sexual assault, given the general climate of criminality, the actual rate of assault may be much higher than that which is reported. There were allegations of sexual assaults during the November 2004 civil strife. Given the strong anti-French sentiment, people of non-African appearance may be specifically targeted for violence. Avoid large gatherings and political demonstrations, as they can turn violent quickly.
Travel outside of Abidjan or at night is strongly discouraged, and it is particularly dangerous to visit Abidjan's Treichville, Adjame, Abobo, and Plateau districts after dark. The DeGaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges in Abidjan are dangerous areas for pedestrians. Inadequate resources and training limit the ability of the police to combat crime. Many hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and supermarkets provide security guards to protect clients and vehicles.
Take the same common sense precautions in Abidjan that you would in any metropolitan area in the United States. Stay in well-lit areas and walk confidently at a steady pace on the side of the street facing traffic close to the curb. Avoid crowds, mass transit, doorways, bushes, alleys and sparsely populated areas. If you go out at night and need transportation, take an Orange metered taxi. Be discreet about your transactions, especially in sight on the street. Normal spending habits of Westerners appear extravagant.
Credit card use in Cote d’Ivoire is limited, particularly outside Abidjan, but credit card fraud is an increasing problem. Unless the credit card transaction is electronically performed in view of the individual, you should not use your credit cards in paper transactions.
Business fraud is rampant and the perpetrators often target foreigners, including Americans. Schemes previously associated with Nigeria are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Cote d’Ivoire, and pose a danger of grave financial loss. Typically these scams begin with unsolicited communication (usually e-mails) from strangers who promise quick financial gain, often by transferring large sums of money or valuables out of the country, but then require a series of “advance fees” to be paid, such as fees for legal documents or taxes. Of course, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. A common variation is the scammer's claim to be a refugee or émigré of a prominent West African family, or a relative of a present or former political leader who needs assistance in transferring large sums of cash. Still other variations appear to be legitimate business deals that require advance payments on contracts. Sometimes victims are convinced to provide bank account and credit card information and financial authorization that drains their accounts, incurs large debts against their credit, and takes their life savings.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud is common sense—if a proposition looks too good to be true, it probably is a scam, particularly if one has never met the correspondent. You should carefully check and research any unsolicited business proposal before committing any funds, providing any goods or services, and undertaking any travel. A good clue to a scam is the phone number given to the victim; legitimate businesses and offices provide fixed line numbers, while scams typically use only cell phones. In Cote d’Ivoire, most cell phone numbers start with zero.
It is virtually impossible to recover money lost through these scams.
Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while over-seas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.
The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
Medical Facilities and Health Information: Abidjan has privately-run medical and dental facilities that are adequate but do not fully meet U.S. standards. Good physician specialists can be found, though few speak English. While pharmacies are well stocked with medications produced in Europe, newer drugs may not be available. Medical care in Cote d’Ivoire outside of Abidjan is extremely limited. Malaria is a serious health problem in Cote d’Ivoire. For more information on malaria, including protective measures, see the Centers for Disease Control Travelers' Health web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel.
The avian influenza or “Bird Flu” virus (H5N1) has been confirmed in animals in Cote d'voire as of June 2006. For more information regarding Avian Influenza, please visit the CDC's Internet site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's internet site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Cote d'vo-ire is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Serious traffic accidents, one of the greatest threats to U.S. citizens in Cote dIvoire, occur regularly in Abidjan. Unsafe road conditions, unskilled drivers, and poorly maintained and overloaded vehicles create very poor driving conditions. Speed limits, signals, and yielding for pedestrians and cyclists are not respected. Drive defensively, watch out for public transportation vehicles that stop and start without warning, and be especially cautious at intersections because traffic lights often malfunctio
If you must drive at night, beware of vehicles without headlights and/or taillights, and pedestrians and bicycles along the roadside. In case of an accident, do not move your vehicle until a police officer tells you to do so. However, if there is no other vehicle to take the injured to a hospital, or if you believe your life is in danger from others at the site of the accident, go to the nearest hospital or police station.
Abidjan has a poor public transportation system; if you travel by bus, use only the “Express line. In Abidjan, taxis are readily available, inexpenssive (metered), but poorly maintained and notorious for not respecting the rules of the road. Communal taxis (“woro-woro”), used only within the limits of each commune, are not metered and are dangerous. Local vans (“Gbaka”) should not be used because they are frequently involved in accidents.
Criminals usually steal vehicles when the driver is in or near the vehicle, so car doors and windows should be kept locked. While stopped in traffic, allow enough room between your car and the one in front to maneuver out if needed. Before getting into your car, look around to see if there is anyone paying unusual attention, and if someone appears to be watching, don't go to your vehicle, but go get assistance. When getting into or out of your vehicle, do so as quickly as possible as this is when you are most vulnerable to carjacking.
If you are the victim of a carjacking, do not resist. Try to remain calm and give the carjackers what they want, which is usually the vehicle and any valuables that you may possess. Experience shows that criminals usually don't use violence unless they are confronted with resistance. Furthermore, it is not uncommon to take an occupant, usually a woman or child, as hostage to ensure their safe escape; the hostage is usually released unharmed. This is a very difficult situation, so use your best judgment at the time to decide your course of action.
A newer phenomenon is the staged accidental “bumping” accident. If your vehicle is “bumped” from the rear or the side, stay locked inside because this ruse is used to get the driver out and leave the vehicle free for carjacking. If you have a cell phone, call for assistance. If you feel your safety is in jeopardy, report the accident at the nearest police station as soon as possible. Try to get the license number for any other vehicle involved.
Emergency services such as ambulance service (SAMU) exist in Abidjan and larger towns, but such service is unreliable. Call 185 or 22-44-55-53. In smaller towns there is usually no ambulance service available, but ambulances may be dispatched from larger towns.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Cote d’Ivoire's Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for the oversight of Cote d’Ivoire's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov.
Special Circumstances: Ivorian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, call (212) 354-4480, e-mail [email protected] org, or visit http://www.uscib.org
If traveling to another West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) country, expatriate residents leaving Cote d′Ivoire must declare the amount of currency being taken out of the country; if going to any other country, tourists are prohibited from taking more than 500,000 CFA francs (approximately $1,000), and business operators two million CFA francs (approximately $4,000), without government approval. Even with authorization, there is a cash limit of $4,000 for tourists and $5,500 for business people, with any surplus in travelers or bank checks.
Carry a photocopy of your U.S. passport, visa, and entry stamps. Also, carry your international driver's license with you, especially if you drive. An American driver's license is not valid for driving in Cote d’Ivoire.
Government corruption remains a serious problem in Cote d′Ivoire, and has an impact on judicial proceedings, contract awards, customs, and tax issues. Security forces (police, military, gendarmes) routinely stop vehicles for traffic violations and security checks. If you are stopped, politely present your identification. If you are stopped at one of these check points for any reason and asked to pay a “fine” to these uniformed officials, politely refuse and present your photocopy of your U.S. passport, visa, and entry stamp. Taking pictures is prohibited near sensitive installations, including military sites, government buildings such as the radio and television stations, the Presidency building, the airport, and the DeGaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges in Abidjan.
Cote d’Ivoire recognizes dual nationality if acquired at birth. Americans who also are Ivorian nationals may be subject, while in Côte d'Ivoire, to certain aspects of Ivorian law that impose special obligations on citizens of that country.
Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Cote d'Ivo-ire' laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Cote d′Ivoire are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.
Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.
Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Cote d’Ivoire are urged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Cote d'Ivo-ire. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in the Riviera Golf neighborhood of the Cocody section of Abidjan, east of the downtown area. The Embassy's postal address is 01 B.P. 1712 Abidjan 01, and the main telephone number is 22-49-40-00. The Consular Section fax number is 22-49-42-02, and more information is on the Consular pages of the Embassy's web site at http://abidjan.usembassy.gov.
December 5, 2007
This Travel Warning is being issued to remind U.S. citizens of the ongoing safety and security concerns in Cote d’Ivoire and to urge Americans to exercise extreme caution while traveling in Cote d’Ivoire. This supersedes the Travel Warning of June 1, 2007.
Cote d’Ivoire continues to experience periodic episodes of political unrest and violence, sometimes directed against foreigners, since a 2002 failed coup attempt that evolved into an armed rebellion and split the country in two. Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro signed the Ouagadougou Political Accord (OPA) in March 2007 and a new government was formed with Soro as Prime Minister (PM).
Although implementation of the accord has begun, the political situation has not returned to normal. In June 2007, rockets were fired at the PM's plane while it was in Bouake. Four people were killed but the PM was unharmed; this incident underscores the potentially volatile political situation in Cote d’Ivoire. UN and French peacekeepers remain in the country.
The security situation continues to be poor and unpredictable throughout the country, particularly in the western part of Cote d’Ivoire. In May 2007, Embassy personnel traveling in western Cote d'voire were subject to unprovoked violence from non-military personnel. Crime poses the highest risk for foreign visitors in Abidjan, including mugging, robbery, burglary and car jacking. Visitors should be careful when stopped in heavy traffic or at impromptu roadblocks due to the threat of violent robbery.
Given the tense and potentially volatile security situation, the Department of State urges American citizens to exercise extreme caution should they travel to Cote d’Ivoire, and to take special care when traveling outside Abidjan. Shops and businesses are open, and overland travel between the large population centers in both the traditionally government-controlled south and the formerly rebel-controlled north is possible. The airport currently operates normally and handles a number of flights by regional and European carriers. Land routes to the Ghanaian border are open. The Department of State continues to prohibit minor dependents from accompanying U.S. government employees assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan. Embassy employees are asked to limit their travel within Abidjan and to avoid travel at night. Private Americans are urged to follow the same guidelines.
U.S. Embassy personnel must obtain prior approval before traveling more than 35 kilometers outside of Abidjan. Some of those requests may be denied, or multi-vehicle convoys may be required for security reasons. Americans should ensure that their vehicles are fully fueled and that they have adequate cooking fuel, food, and water to last several days.
The U.S. Embassy is located in the Riviera Golf neighborhood of the Cocody section of Abidjan. The Embassy may close to the public temporarily from time to time in response to security developments. U.S. citizens who remain in, or travel to, Cote d’Ivoire despite this Travel Warning should consult the Department of State's latest Country Specific Information for Cote d’Ivoire and the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert at http://travel.state.gov. Americans should register with the U.S. Embassy by completing a registration form on-line at https://-49-42-02. Americans in Cote d’Ivoire who need assistance should contact the Embassy at (225) 22-49-40-00. American citizens may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions in Cote d’Ivoire by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from all other countries.
Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.
Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.
Adoption Authority: The government offices responsible for adoption in Côte d'Ivoire are the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Justice. The Department of Social Welfare, sub-unit of the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs has jurisdiction over the child's identification process, the home study and the issuance of a certificate authorizing the orphanage to release the child to the adoptive parent(s). Any request related to an adoption issue should be directed to:
Mme La Directrice
Direction de la Protection et Promotion Sociales
Ministére de la Famille et Des Affaires Sociales
BP V 124, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Tel: (225) 20 217 626 or 20 213 348
The Ministry of Justice handles the second and final part of the adoption process. Once the child is in the adoptive parent's custody, the adoptive parents must request the legal guardianship and thereafter, either the simple adoption or the plenary adoption. This procedure must be initiated through the Court of First Instance of Abidjan. However please note that only a full adoption is considered a valid adoption for U.S. immigration purposes. Request for information should be directed to:
Monsieur le Président
Tribunal de Première Instance
BP V 33 Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
Tel: (225) 20 223 586
Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: In Cote d’Ivoire, a single person and a married couple are both eligible to adopt, providing the following requirements are met, the prospective adoptive parent (s) must be thirty (30) years old and must be 15 years older than the adoptive child; a prospective adoptive couple must be married for at least five years, and both individuals must consent to the adoption.
Residency Requirements: The adoption process requires a mandatory home study and an six-month integration period. Therefore, the court expects the prospective adoptive parent(s) to establish residency in Côte d'Ivoire. However, the prospective parent(s) may be from a foreign country. In such cases, they must explain the circumstances preventing them from establishing a temporary residency abroad and should submit proof that they visit the child regularly and provide for his/her care.
Time Frame: The process may be finalized within a year.
Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are no private adoption agencies in Côte d'Ivoire. All adoption matters are processed through the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Justice. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan maintains a list of attorneys who handle inter-country adoptions.
Printed copies of this list are available at the U.S. Embassy, however it is important to note that the Embassy cannot recommend the services of any private attorney.
Adoption Fees: The adoption process involves fees associated with the medical examination as well as for court procedures. As of June, 2006, the average cost of the medical examination ranges from US$ 69.00 in public medical facilities to US$93.00 in private clinics. Court fees consist of US$59.00, which must be paid by the adoptive parent(s) to register the case for a hearing. The total cost for issuance of a new birth certificate and a passport, is approximately US$50.00. This fee includes the purchase of a revenue stamp of US$0.97 for issuance of the birth certificate, and a revenue stamp of USS 49.00 for an Ivorian passport.
Adoption Procedures: Persons interested in adopting a child from Côte d'Ivoire must first identify a child. This can be done with the assistance of the Department of Social Welfare, which is a sub-unit of the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs, or by directly contacting the administration of an orphanage. Once the prospective adoptive parent(s) have identified a child for adoption, the orphanage's administrator transmits the case to the Department of Social Welfare, which will conduct a home study. Upon completion of the home study, the Department drafts its recommendation and gives a written authorization (Autorisation de Sortie de la Pouponniere) to the orphanage to release the child to the adoptive parent(s). The file is then forwarded to the court for adjudication. A first hearing is scheduled by the “Judge of Guardianship” verify the circumstances surrounding the adoption as well as to hear the intent for adoption by both the biological and adoptive parent(s). The biological parent(s) plays a crucial role in the process, because they must consent to the adoption in writing. The written consent is a required document, and must be submitted when the request for adoption is submitted to the Court.
There are two types of adoptions in Cote d’Ivoire: the simple adoption and the full adoption (“Adoption Plénière”). The full adoption awards complete custody to the adoptive parents and breaks any existing familial relationship between the adopted child and the birth parent(s).
Once the birth parents have, in writing, irrevocably released the child for adoption, a permanent parent-child relationship is created and this adoption gives the adopted child the same rights as a child born to the adoptive parent. On the contrary, the simple adoption can be compared to a court decision granting legal custody of the child, to the adoptive parent. It would be, for instance, a case where the biological parent is incapable of providing proper care and partly delegates his/her parental rights to a third party. After a satisfactory review of the six-month integration period, a second hearing is scheduled where the judge issues a preliminary decree called the legal guardianship or “Ordonnance de Garde Juridique en vue d'Adoption.” A simple adoption or the final adoption request may be requested by the adoptive parents upon the completion of the compulsory six-month period during which they have lived with the adopted child. Once the adoption decree is issued, the adoptive parents will apply for a new birth certificate by contacting the civil registry (“Mairie”) which has jurisdiction over their place of residence. The birth certificate is required for the issuance of a passport.
Required Documents: The documentary requirements for foreign adoptions in Côte d'Ivoire are as follows.
- The prospective parent(s) should address a written request either to the Ministry of Family and Social Affairs, Department of Social Welfare or directly to the court having jurisdiction if the child has already been identified. In the request, the adoptive parent(s) must give the reasons for their desire to adopt and must indicate the age and the gender of the child.
- Birth certificates of the adoptive parent(s).
- Marriage certificate for married couples.
- Proof of income.
- Consent for adoption in writing with the signature(s) of the biological parent(s), if known, duly attested by a Notary Public.
- Medical certificate confirming sterility if this is the basis for adoption.
- Recommendation of the social welfare service of the local administration (following a home study at the place of residence), with details about the prospective adoptive parents, history of their marriage, living conditions, family and personal motivation for adoption, and income. A U.S. home study may be useful if translated in into French; however, it will not waive the local home study requirement.
Embassy of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire
2424 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Washington, D.C. 20007,
Telephone: (202) 797-0300.
There are honorary consulates for Cote d’Ivoire in San Francisco, Stamford (CT), Orlando, Houston and Detroit.
U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.
U.S. Embassy Abidjan
01 B.P. 1712, Abidjan 01 Côte d'Ivoire
Tel: (225) 22-49-40-00
Fax: (225) 22-49-42-02
Additional Information: Specific questions about intercountry adoption in Côte d'Ivoire may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/ OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.