Ivory Coast. The former rebels who rule the Ivory Coast’s northern half began their demobilization in May with the intention of disbanding their armed forces until the November presidential election. However, the disarmament took considerably longer than planned, and when the registration of voters also expired at the time, the country’s leader in November decided to postpone the election to 2009.
The presidential election, which would mark the end of years of conflict in the divided country, would have been held as early as 2005. The UN Security Council extended the mandate of the 8,000-strong peacekeeping force ONUCI until January 2009 and extended a series of sanctions against the country until October 2009. The sanctions include a ban on the sale of weapons to the Ivory Coast and the export of rough diamonds from the Ivory Coast. In addition, a number of individuals who are considered a threat to peace are punished with travel restrictions and frozen financial assets.
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Large price increases for food and fuel led to unrest on several occasions. President Laurent Gbagbo met the food price protests by cutting import duties and lowering taxes on a number of basic commodities. To compensate for a 10 percent reduction in sharply increased diesel and gasoline prices, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro ordered halved salaries for all ministers and heads of state-owned companies. Ministers’ trips abroad would be limited to the “absolutely necessary”.
The head of the local company, which in 2006 spread more than 500 tonnes of toxic waste on Abidjan’s dumps, was sentenced in October to 20 years in prison. A port official who provided the contract to the company was sentenced to five years in prison. Seven other defendants were acquitted. The Dutch company that shipped the waste to Ivory Coast avoided prosecution by paying US $ 200 million to the Ivorian state. 17 people died and thousands were injured by the toxic waste.
In December, a military court sentenced 84 soldiers to two years in prison for violence and looting during a payroll protest in September. Two men were sentenced to three years in prison and 18 defendants were acquitted.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Ivory Coast in 2008 was 20,532,839, ranking number 56 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.270% yearly, and the population density was 64.5690 people per km2.