I Coast needs huge economic help
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said yesterday said his country's economy will contract by seven percent this year because of the nation's political conflict and called for massive international aid.
Ouattara also said that mercenaries pose a threat to Liberia's presidential election this year and that he is seeking growing security cooperation with neighboring countries.
Ouattara is to meet US President Barack Obama and the heads of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington on Friday to discuss rebuilding the world's biggest cocoa producer from the conflict which left thousands dead after the November 28 election.
The Ivory Coast leader, who was backed by the UN as winner of the election but had to fight incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to take office, would not say how much he would be seeking, telling a press conference only that his nation needs "a lot of money."
Ouattara said national reconciliation was his priority and vowed that alleged massacres and rights abuses by all sides would be investigated and punished.
"Our main task after reconciliation is reconstruction because the country has been destroyed," he told a press conference after meeting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
"In the past 10 years there was no investment except in public money to buy arms and ammunitions," which Ouattara called an "abuse" which had badly damaged the country's development.
"This year because of the post-electoral crisis our economy will drop by seven percent so this needs massive support," he said.
According to some reports the new Ivory Coast government has estimated that it will need more than $25 billion of investment to rebuild the economy.
Ouattara said he had met the presidents of Ghana and Liberia in recent weeks to discuss security threats.
The Ivory Coast leader said that he and Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had agreed to boost border to security and to exchange information on mercenaries crossing from one country to another.
Liberia, devastated by its own civil war between 1989 and 2003, is to hold legislative and presidential elections in October.
Ouattara said the mercenaries "will become a greater threat for Liberia" and Ivory Coast, because of the elections.