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Genocide Warning for the Ivory Coast…But where is our money?

January 20, 2011

The Ivory Coast has been in the news quite a bit lately.  A contested election in November has led to the country becoming very unstable.  Things have been getting progressively worse over the last few months.  The newest warning comes from two UN officials charged with monitoring genocide and mass atrocity:

We remain gravely concerned about the possibility of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing in Côte d’Ivoire. We believe that urgent steps should be taken, in line with the “responsibility to protect”, to avert the risk of genocide and ensure the protection of all those at risk of mass atrocities.

We are disturbed by allegations that the armed forces and militia groups that back opposing camps in the current political crisis are recruiting and arming ethnic groups allied to each camp. We are also deeply troubled by reports of continuing hate speech that appears to be aimed at inciting violent attacks against particular ethnic and national groups.

Reading their full comments leaves one with no doubt that things are getting very bad.  The question is, what is going to happen? Will things escalate into yet a third civil war in the last decade?  Will we see another Rwanda?  Will Ivorians lead their country back from the brink? Will the rest of the world will step in and help prevent things from getting out of hand?

In completely unrelated news, the London Club committee of commercial creditors cannot figure out why the Ivory Coast is not up to date on their bond repayments.  Apparently the Ivory Coast missed a payment that was due at the end of December and they are quickly approaching the end of the grace period which is at the end of this month.  For those of you who do not know, the London Club is part of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that

is an informal group of commercial banks that join together to negotiate their claims against a sovereign debtor. The debtor initiates a process in which a London Club “Advisory Committee” is formed. The Committee is chaired by a leading financial firm and includes representatives from other exposed firms. Upon signing of a restructuring agreement, the Committee is dissolved.

I know it may sound crazy to the London Club, but maybe, just maybe the Ivory Coast has been a bit busy with other things that they really haven’t had too much time to think about paying back loans.  Seriously, is there not a provision in the loan repayment that says if a country is on the brink of genocide that their loan is put on hold until the country becomes more stable?  Kids in college in the United States who take out loans for college have the option to defer their loan payments after college if they take certain kinds of jobs or continue their education.  I just think countries should get the same option.

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