France forgives Ivory Coast's debt worth $4bn

Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara says cancellation of the debt will help the West African country develop.

    Ivory Coast's president says France's decision to forgive $4.67bn in debt will help his impoverished country develop.

    Alassane Ouattara was in Paris on Thursday, meeting Francois Hollande, France's president, two days after the agreement to cancel the debt by the former colonial master.

    That deal stems from an earlier decision by a group of Western creditor nations called the Paris Club.

    Ouattara took office after disputed November 2010 elections that left thousands dead in post-vote violence. His predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, is now facing international charges of crimes against humanity.

    France's decision prompted pro-Gbagbo supporters in Paris on Monday to protest against French backing of the ousting of the former president, who they see as the country's rightful leader.

    Around 100 demonstrators assembled in the square in front of the Saint Philippe-du-Roule church, but police began to arrest the Gbagbo supporters once they refused to leave the park.

    While playing Ivorian music and dancing, the protesters chanted anti-Ouattara and anti-imperialist slogans. Scores were loaded onto at least three police buses. 

    National Police surrounded the triangular park from all sides, cordoning off demonstrators inside and outside of the area where people would be forcibly removed.

    Most of those arrested were of Ivorian origin, although a few non-African French activists were also taken away.

    Ivory Coast headed to the brink of civil war in early 2011 when Gbagbo refused to concede defeat after losing the presidential runoff vote to Ouattara.

    After months of violence, Ouattara was sworn in as president in May 2011, but tension between his supporters and Gbagbo's remain high.

    French and UN troops fought along side those of Ouattara during a months-long offensive that toppled Gbagbo.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Agencies


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