Ivory Coast: A battle over financial signature

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Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley, Governor of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), was forced to resign over the weekend by the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), which took place in Bamako, Mali. Dacoury-Tabley has been accused of failing to implement the institution’s decision to recognize only the signature of Alassane Ouattara, president elect of the Ivory Coast.

Last Saturday, the Conference of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) sought and obtained the resignation of Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley, Governor of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), in Mali.

Concerned about the non-implementing of decisions made at the Council of Ministers on December 23, 2010, following the November 28 presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire, a communique read by WAEMU Commission President Soumaila Cisse indicated that the conference had “noted” Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley’s “resignation.”

Confirming that he had been given the boot after serving the regional monetary group for 35 years, Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley announced that he was “deeply saddened for the institution.” “I think,” he said, “that a much better decision than this could have been taken. I remain committed to this institution. I believe in the monetary union and I hope the days ahead will not be dark for our union.”

A Gbagbo accomplice

The departure of the BCEAO governor, a Laurent Gbagbo appointee, does not come as a surprise following the council’s endorsement and recognition of Alassane Ouattara’s signature. Prior to his departure, Mr. Dacoury-Tabley was accused by Alassane Ouattara for failing to adhere to decisions reached by WAEMU’s Council of Ministers.

And notwithstanding the Bank’s decision, President Laurent Gbagbo’s administration is believed to have received disbursements amounting to more than 80 billion CFA francs, according to several sources within the Union.

Commenting on Mr. Dacoury-Tabley’s resignation, Guillaume Soro, Ivorian Prime Minister and Alassane Ouattara’s representative at the summit, said that “the situation had become untenable” at the BCEAO.

Meanwhile, Jean-Baptiste Compaore, current vice-governor of BCEAO, has been named as the interim Governor of the institution. He was appointed by Alassane Ouattarra. “We are leaving satisfied that the decision-making power [over who appoints the governor, ed.] remains with Côte d’Ivoire,” said Guillaume Soro. He also lauded WAEMU for confirming “president Alassane Ouattara’s signature” as being valid for the Ivory Coast.

Hostile Climate

The sacked BCEAO governor has, however, defended himself. “The decision over the signature (…) was met with major difficulties related to the security situation [of Côte d’Ivoire], and the fact that those in power still run the entire state machinery,” Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley argues. “Under such circumstances, it was highly impossible for the central bank to implement all decisions taken by the Commission in Bissau [Guinea].”

According to Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley, an Ivorian national, he had informed WAEMU of the situation. “I reported the difficulties encountered by the institution in its implementation of the Bissau decisions on a regular basis […] in the hope that the Commission would give new instructions, guidance and support to help apply the Bissau measures. But that was not the case.”

Dacoury-Tabley also believes that the non-implementation of these measures were misperceived. “Some of the difficulties we encountered led to many people thinking that the central bank was refusing to implement the Bissau decisions. But our officers worked in a hostile climate that made it impossible to implement those decisions.”

Reports from Côte d’Ivoire say that staff of the Central Bank of West African States are under constant threat from Gbagbo’s supporters.

The former Governor asserts that in Côte d’Ivoire, “the whole administration–treasury, customs, taxes (…)–continues to be in the hands of the [Gbagbo] government,” whilst arguing that his departure is as a result of a “lack of understanding” of the enumerated facts.

Meanwhile, Laurent Gbagbo’s government has rejected the “forced resignation” of Philippe-Henri Dacoury-Tabley, who has also been placed on the European Union sanctions list.

Some elements close to Mr. Gbagbo have evoked a possible pull-out from the WAEMU zone. A few weeks ago, they had talked about introducing a separate currency for the country.

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