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Ivory Coast Table of Contents

Ivory Coast


Growing Economic Problems

The worldwide economic recession at the beginning of the 1980s caused the prices of cocoa and coffee, CŰte d'Ivoire's principal exports, to drop sharply, resulting in a significant economic slowdown. Combined with soaring commercial interest rates, the recession abruptly truncated the growth of the Ivoirian economy and exacerbated tensions in the labor force, where underemployment and unemployment had become acute. In mid-1978 complaints about inflation, the public debt, decreasing exports, the role of foreigners in the economy, and the succession question appeared in antigovernment tracts distributed in Abidjan. Popular manifestations of discontent with the regime's rigid policies, as well as with declining revenue, high urban unemployment, and the atrophied one-party political system, continued into the early 1980s. As was by now typical, HouphouŽt-Boigny dealt quickly with the complaints by proposing more rapid Ivoirianization and steps to decentralize and democratize local administrations. The government also trimmed the budget of several development programs.

Perhaps foreseeing political problems, HouphouŽt-Boigny took steps to consolidate further his own control. In 1980, again running unopposed, he was elected to a fifth term in office. In the same year, the Seventh Party Congress of the PDCI, following instructions from the president, abolished the post of PDCI secretary general and established HouphouŽt-Boigny as the party's executive chairman, assisted by the new nine-member Executive Committee of the Political Bureau.

Data as of November 1988