Protests force Ivory Coast tax cuts

Two days of violent demonstrations over food prices leave at least one person dead.

    Police used live ammunition and tear gas
    to disperse protesters in Abidjan [AFP]

    "All these measures should allow the government to bring prices for staple foodstuffs back to their level before the present increases," he said.

    'We are hungry'

    Many of the demonstrators in the Port-Bouet area of the city were youths or women shouting: "We are hungry" and "We want to eat."

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    Protesters said that the man who was killed appeared to have been shot.

    "I saw one young man dead. He had a big hole in his temple," one witness said. Police officials declined to comment.

    There were similar protests in the Cocody and Deux Plateaux neighbourhoods, home to several embassies as well as the presidential palace.

    "We are protesting against the high cost of living," Clarisse Mango, a roadside trader, told the Reuters news agency in Cocody.
       
    "Six months ago I had a business selling doughnuts. I bought a sack of flour at 14,000 CFA francs ($33.37). Two months ago a sack had gone up to 20,000 francs."

    Most shops were closed in the neighbourhood after at least a dozen people had been arrested when protests began on Monday.

    Soaring prices

    The unrest followed similar protests at the soaring prices of food in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mauritania, as well as Latin America and Asia.

    The United Nations Development Programme estimates that nearly 49 per cent of Ivory Coast's 19 million people live below the poverty threshold of $2 a day.

    "Before you could manage with 5,000 CFA a week," Margueritte Ahoule, a protester in her 60s, said.

    "Now 5,000 francs doesn't feed a family for two days."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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