Ivory Coast’s Ouattara, Pledging Democracy, to Ask Obama for Aid

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said he will ask U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington this week for some of the “massive support” his country needs after a decade of civil war.

Ouattara, who is scheduled to confer with Obama on July 29, said the economy of the world’s leading cocoa producer would contract by 7 percent this year as a result of violence following the disputed presidential election in November. Incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to cede power to Alassane, was captured in April and Ouattara took office in May.

“Our main task after reconciliation is reconstruction because the country has been destroyed,” Ouattara told reporters at the United Nations in New York today. “In the past 10 years there was no investment. The average growth was 2 percent.”

Ouattara said he will also appeal in Washington for support from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In meetings today with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other officials and diplomats, he aimed to reassure them of his commitment to democracy, his plan to prosecute any of his followers who committed crimes during the conflict, and his efforts to reconcile with Gbagbo supporters.

“I am the president of all Ivorians,” Ouattara said. “We want the rule of law. Justice will be for everyone, with no distinctions.”

Gbagbo, under arrest at a presidential residence in the northern part of the country, would be treated with “dignity,” Ouattara said, adding that some criminal charges against him likely would handled by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Elections Planned

Ouattara’s plea for aid, including about $25 million to hold parliamentary elections late this year, came as his government reported collecting 36 percent more taxes than projected over the past three months. In addition, cocoa prices fell in New York today on speculation that supplies from Ivory Coast will be larger than initially estimated.

Ouattara’s visit to the UN coincided with a vote by the Security Council to extend for a year the mandate of the world body’s peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast. The UN has 9,417 soldiers and civilian police in the country to monitor its borders, enforce an arms embargo, protect civilians and assist with political reconciliation.

The president said that he expects parliamentary elections to be held in late November or early December, and that he is waiting now for Gbagbo’s political party to nominate its share of members of the national electoral commission.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner at the United Nations at wvarner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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