January 28, 2011 / 11:46 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 1-Ouattara camp says no money to pay Ivorian debt

* No money in accounts to pay Ivorian debts -Ouattara camp

* Eurobond coupon grace period ends Monday, yield up

(Adds quotes, details)

ABIDJAN, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Ivorian presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara’s government team said on Friday there was no money in state accounts to pay the country’s debts, including an overdue Eurobond interest payment that must be made by Monday.

A spokesman for Ouattara’s parallel government said the coupon could be paid only when Ouattara gained full control of the country’s accounts at the West African central bank.

Ouattara was recognised by world leaders as the winner of a Nov. 28 election, but has struggled to get control of the country’s finances from incumbent Laurent Gbagbo who has resisted pressure to step down.

“Ivory Coast has no money to pay any debt at all,” Patrick Achi, a spokesman for Ouattara’s rival government, told Reuters, days before the grace period for the coupon for Ivory Coast’s $2.3 billion Eurobond due 2032 XS0496488395=R runs out.

Ivory Coast missed a $29 million coupon payment at the end of December. The bond’s yield reached a record 16.9 pct on Friday on expectations the coupon would not be paid on Monday, after which the bond would be in default.

Ouattara has been given official control over the country’s accounts at the West African central bank, the BCEAO, but regional leaders last week forced the bank’s governor to resign after complaints from Ouattara that he was continuing to allow Gbagbo access to the funds.

Gbagbo this week ordered the requisitioning of the bank’s offices in Ivory Coast in an effort to retain control of the operations in country.

“Where do you want us to get the money from?” Achi said. “As soon as we get control of the central bank account we will pay it, for sure.”

Achi said that Gbagbo has managed to drain some $500 million from the account since early December, when Ouattara was declared the election winner by United Nations-certified results, which were overturned by a pro-Gbagbo legal body.

Gbagbo, who retains control of the military and most state institutions, has rejected international appeals to stand down and dismissed threats by regional leaders to oust him. His government has said it is prepared to pay the Eurobond coupon after creditors recognize him as the legitimate president. [ID:nLDE70D1ES]

An analyst said that Gbagbo’s requisitioning of control over electricity distribution this week for national security interests had also pushed the yield of the bond up. (Reporting by David Lewis; editing by Richard Valdmanis and Catherine Evans)

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