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01.04.2009 Ivory Coast

$3bn debt relief for Ivory Coast

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF)has agreed to write off $3bn (£2bn) of Ivory Coast's $12.8bn national debt.

President Laurent Gbagbo described the measure, under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, as good news and thanked France for its support.

He said the weight of the debt had become a "grave mortgage on the very future" of the country.

The IMF said a big reform programme was needed for the nation to benefit fully from the relief and qualify for more.

Last Friday, the IMF agreed to lend Ivory Coast $565m, attached to strict conditions relating to poverty reduction and financial transparency.

Ivory Coast is still recovering from an armed rebellion in 2002 which split the nation in two.

Despite numerous peace deals, the main players in the conflict have struggled to find a lasting political solution.

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