Gbagbo Strong-Arms Banks, Cocoa Farmers for Cash

Stubborn Ivory Coast boss evades sanctions
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2011 1:21 PM CST
Simone Gbagbo sits in front of a portrait of her husband, Laurent Gbagbo, at a pro-Gbagbo rally at the Palace of Culture in the Treichville neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Jan. 15, 2011.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

(Newser) – Determined to stay in power despite the international sanctions pressing down on him, Laurent Gbagbo is pressuring banks to continue lending to him, and cocoa farmers to pay their export taxes in advance. “He’s looking for $90 million, from here to the end of the month,” said one cocoa businessman. Some bankers, meanwhile, tell the New York Times that he’s threatened to use military force against them if they stop buying government bonds.

One senior banker denied that report, but confirmed that Gbagbo was “chasing all over the place” for cash. Gbagbo lost the Ivory Coast’s recent presidential election, but he’s been stubbornly clinging to power. Regional leaders were hoping the sanctions would ensure they didn’t need to send troops to remove Gbagbo, but several banks appear to be cooperating with him to keep the money flowing to him—and from him to the military and civil servants he needs to hold onto power. The Times notes that he pays the two groups between $50 million and $100 million a month, and will remain relatively secure in the short-term if he can continue to do so.

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