International Issues -
Once considered an oasis of politico- economic stability in conflict prone West Africa, Ivory Coast has gradually slipped into ethnic tension and war. After its independence (from France in 1960), President F�lix-Boigny maintained a careful balance between Muslim dominated northern regions (Mande & Voltaic ethnic groups) and predominantly Christian (Akan & Krou) south.
Economically, Ivory Coast was a leading producer & exporter of coffee, cocoa, palm oil and pineapples; and maintained a growth rate of nearly 10% in 1960-70, making it the fastest growing economy in the region. In post-Felix Ivory Coast, falling cocoa prices, opportunist political leadership and increasing disparity between the ‘North’ and the ‘South’ led to the rise of xenophobic nationalism. The UN’s Human Development Report notes that disparities widened due to skewed government support to favored groups. While Akan and Krou improved their position, Mande and Voltaic worsened by 1.19 times the national average in 1994 to 0.93 times in 1998. Ivory Coast’s downslide can be attributed to a complex matrix of social, economic and political quotients, but failure of political leadership to emerge as a fair player in bringing distributive economic justice remains the most important factor.