UK: Gbagbo cocoa nationalisation "a desperate act"

Wed Mar 9, 2011 11:37am GMT

* Cocoa future breaks through 30-year highs

* Calls on Gbagbo to "leave with dignity"

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, March 9 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo's move to nationalise the country's cocoa industry indicates his growing desperation, a British official said on Wednesday.

Ivory Coast state television reported on Monday that Gbagbo had issued a decree under which the state becomes the sole purchaser of cocoa in the world's top grower and handles its export to world markets.

"I think the nationalisation of the cocoa industry is a bad step for Mr. Gbagbo," Tim Hitchens, the Foreign Office's director for Africa, told Reuters in Addis Ababa.

"It's an act of desperation and I think it's very clear ... that a noose is tightening around the leadership in Abidjan," Hitchens added.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday taking the cocoa sector into state hands "amounts to theft."   Continued...

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