Things are not boding well for the financial sector in the Ivory Coast. Just recently, five of the area´s leading banks closed. The closings have caused worries that the current money shortage will worsen for the West African nation, which has been in crisis since a late and much disputed November election. On Monday, Ivory Coast’s incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo was arrested at his Abidjan residence and the nation´s $2.3 billion bond fell one point as U.N. and French helicopters attacked forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo.
The banks – Access Bank, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Societe Generale and Standard Chartered – suspended operations. According to a press release from the Paris-based BICICI, which is owned by BNP Paribas, one of the banks tried to remain in operation to “best to serve clients despite the instability in Ivory Coast…But over these past few days, however, legal uncertainty has significantly increased and it is therefore no longer able to ensure legal and accounting security for its clients. It has thus decided to temporarily halt the bank’s activities until further notice.”
“The bank closings have intensified the hardship that the civil war is causing to the Ivorian working class because it is not possible for workers, who are not able to get to their jobs, to receive remittances from friends and relatives abroad. Many workers have been without food for three days or more, shuttered in their homes, fearing the civil war,” noted Rodney D. Green, Ph.D., chair and professor for the Department of Economics and executive director of Howard University Center for Urban Progress before Gbagbo´s arrest. “Those who dare to go to the market to try to find food face gunfire, and some have in fact been shot. With perhaps only 200 troops loyal to Gbagbo (Laurent Koudou Gbagbo was the president of Côte d’Ivoire from 2000 until 2011) defending him in his home, while Outarra’s (Alassane Dramane Ouattara was sworn in as president) forces surround the compound, the war may end soon with Gbagbo’s arrest. At that point, it will be possible for economic life to gradually return to normal, although the greater hand of French imperialism will surely temper this recovery.”
Since the election, anger has filled the streets. According to the UN, more than 33,000 people have fled to neighboring Liberia since the crisis began. Another 20,000 have been internally displaced.