Get results in 6 months, Ouattara tells Ivory Coast government

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Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara told his ministers yesterday they had six months to show results from reconstruction efforts after a violent election dispute that shook the top cocoa-growing nation.

Ouattara is struggling to restore law and order and put Ivory Coast’s economy back on track after a power struggle with former President Laurent Gbagbo tipped it back into civil war.

He has been engaged in meetings with ministers in the past two days to thrash out priorities for the next six months. Restoring security and basic services was at the top of the to-do list in a speech he gave on Tuesday.
“The most valuable thing for me is to see the actions agreed in this seminar effectively implemented and the members of government will be evaluated on their work,” Ouattara told his ministers at the close of the meeting on Wednesday.
“The next six months will be a period of action and I want (it) … to be visible to our citizens. We must move quickly.”

Analysts say Ouattara must deliver results quickly if he wants to win over people in almost half the country who supported Gbagbo. The dispute was triggered when Gbagbo refused to step down after losing the November election.

A decade of crisis and instability in Ivory Coast has paralysed public administration, discouraged investment and left many Ivorians with the feeling nothing is being done for them.

It still boasts some of the best roads and electricity in the region, but years of decay are starting to take their toll.

The conflict over the election put the economy into a tailspin. After 2.6 percent growth in 2010, a 7.5 drop is expected this year, due to months of zero exports.

Investors are eagerly watching Ouattara, a former deputy IMF director, for signs his economic expertise will put public finances back in order and enable the country to meet defaulted coupons on its US$2.3 billion Eurobond CI049648839=RRPS.

Ouattara did not mention debt service among his priorities.

Government spokesman Bruno Kone said ministers emerged from the session with a promise to tackle security problems and economic reforms in the next six months.

The government also pledged to “increase the fight against robbery” and devise a system for biometric identification of former rebel soldiers who helped Ouattara take power. Most are still at large and have been blamed for lingering insecurity.

Pledging greater transparency for public finances, the ministers promised to reform the cocoa sector, which feeds some 40 percent of world demand, and to publish audits of the chronically opaque industry.

They also pledged to publish figures on oil and gas revenues, the most significant government revenue earner after import duties. The figures were kept secret under Gbagbo.