December 6, 2010 / 6:20 AM / 9 years ago

World Bank, AfDB to review Ivory Coast lending programs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank and African Development Bank on Sunday expressed “great concern and frustration” with the disputed election result in Ivory Coast and said they would review their lending programs to the West African nation.

U.N. police stand guard as supporters of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, former prime minister and candidate of the Rally of the Republicans (RDR) party, protest in front of the U.N. headquarters at the rebels' stronghold of Bouake, in central Ivory Coast December 5, 2010. Former South African leader Thabo Mbeki sought on Sunday to mediate an end to a dispute over Ivory Coast's presidential election that has threatened to trigger unrest in the divided West African nation. The Nov. 28 poll, designed to reunite a country split after a 2002-2003 civil war, has raised tensions as both incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and his challenger Ouattara have claimed victory and taken presidential oaths. REUTER/Luc Gnago

“In line with our policies, we will continue to closely monitor developments and reassess the usefulness and effectiveness of our programs given the breakdown in governance,” the development banks said in a joint statement.

The two banks provide loans and grants to support poverty-fighting programs in Ivory Coast.

An election meant to resolve a decade-long crisis in Ivory Coast seems instead to have deepened it, after Laurent Gbagbo was sworn in as president on Saturday even though his proclaimed election victory was rejected by world leaders.

His rival, Alassane Ouattara, named winner of the vote by an election commission, warned that denying him victory would risk throwing the country back into a north-south conflict.

African countries have sent former South African leader Thabo Mbeki to the capital of Abidjan to mediate.

Gbagbo ruled over the world’s top cocoa grower for a decade but faces international isolation and possibly sanctions after the United States, the United Nations, France, the European Union, the African Union, and West African bloc ECOWAS all rejected his claim of electoral victory.

The World Bank has tied the cancellation of $3 billion of Ivory Coast’s external debt, estimated at $12.5 billion, to the elections.

The World Bank and African Development Bank said a prolonged crisis in Ivory Coast would plunge more Ivorians deeper into poverty and hurt stability and economic prosperity throughout the region.

“We wish to continue working with the people of Ivory Coast in the fight against poverty but it is difficult to do so effectively in an environment of prolonged uncertainty and tension,” the banks said.

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