March 31st, 2011
03:31 PM GMT
The price of chocolate could increase if the violence and political stalemate in Ivory Coast continues. Prices of cocoa are already at an all time high and confectioners warn that the consumers could soon be paying more for chocolates if there is no resolution.
The West African country is the world’s largest producer and exporter of cocoa. The international community has slapped embargoes on the Ivorian cocoa industry, stopping exports of the crop, in a bid to cut off foreign exchange revenue to former president Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters. Gbagbo refuses to give up power after losing elections last year
The fighting has also paralyzed the country’s biggest port, which exports much of the raw produce for chocolate.
Latest reports indicate that forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the would-be president of the West African nation, have taken the coastal cocoa town of San Pedro. Hundreds of thousands of tons of cocoa beans are reportedly in warehouses, ready to be shipped to international markets.
As the crisis of leadership continues, ordinary Ivorians say they are paying the ultimate price for Gbagbo’s stubbornness. Cocoa farmers are forced to stockpile their crops, waiting for the impasse to end. However, the longer this goes on the longer they don’t get paid.
Beyond the economic hardships, the human impact continues to horrify observers.
“Ivory Coast has reached a boiling point,” says Human Rights Watch (HRW). It says ordinary Ivorians and West African immigrants continue to be massacred by forces loyal to Gbagbo. “We are extremely concerned about the potential for further human rights atrocities, given the killings on both sides,” says Daniel Bekele, who heads up HRW in Africa.
Now, the United Nations has eventually beefed up its response against Gbagbo’s regime, implementing tougher sanctions against him, his wife and three associates. However, the Security Council fell short of referring Gbagbo and his supporters to the International Criminal Court.
With both the economic and humanitarian situation reaching dire consequences for ordinary Ivorians, what is the solution? Will sanctions work to shift Gbagbo out of power? Will West African nations take matters into their own hands and launch their own offensive? After all, the impact of this instability is felt far beyond the borders of the Ivory Coast.
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