Ivory Coast cocoa purchases hit again by post-election unrest

BARRICAES erected by opponents of Ivory Coast’s president in protest at last month’s disputed election have forced cocoa middlemen in western regions to reduce their purchases of beans, buyers have said.

Bean arrivals at ports in Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, fell by half early last week in the days after the October 31 presidential election, when clashes in the centre of the country killed more than 10 people.

Buying picked up later in the week but has taken a fresh hit since Monday, when young people in the west and southwest began barricading roads, a dozen buyers and middlemen told Reuters.

“All my trucks are staying in today. I don’t want to take a risk because if there’s a problem, the insurance won’t reimburse me,” said Tiemoko Coulibaly, a buyer in the southwestern town of Tai.

A security source said there had been no major violence in the west, where some of the worst fighting occurred during Ivory Coast’s 2010-11 civil war, but that tensions were high.

The United Nations said on Tuesday that the number of refugees who had fled Ivory Coast since the election had more than doubled in the past week to over 8,000, with most crossing the western border into Liberia.

The director of a cocoa export company in the commercial capital Abidjan said the situation would slow purchases, but it was not yet clear by how much.

President Alassane Ouattara was officially certified on Monday as the winner of the election, but his main opponents have refused to recognise his victory, saying he did not have the right to stand for a third term in office.

Some of those opponents now face criminal charges for creating a rival government. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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