Ivory Coast Crisis Affects Chocolate Prices

By Daily Guide

The price of chocolate could increase if the violence and political stalemate in Ivory Coast continue.

Prices of cocoa are already at an all time high and confectioners warn that the consumers would soon be paying more for chocolates if there is no resolution.

Ivory Coast is the world's largest producer and exporter of cocoa.

The international community has slapped embargoes on the Ivorian cocoa industry, stopping the export of the crop in a bid to cut off foreign exchange to former president Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters. Gbagbo has refused to cede power after losing elections last year.

The fighting has also paralyzed the country's biggest port, which exports much of the raw produce for chocolate.

Latest reports indicate that forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the would-be president of the West African nation, have taken the coastal cocoa town of San Pedro.

Hundreds of thousands of tons of cocoa beans are said to be in warehouses ready to be shipped to international markets.

As the political crisis escalates, ordinary Ivorians say they are paying the ultimate price for Gbagbo's stubbornness.

Cocoa farmers are forced to stockpile their crops, waiting for the impasse to end.

Beyond the economic hardships, the human impact continues to horrify observers.

'Ivory Coast has reached a boiling point,' says Human Rights Watch (HRW).

It said ordinary Ivorians and West African immigrants continue to be massacred by forces loyal to Gbagbo.

'We are extremely concerned about the potential for further human rights atrocities, given the killings on both sides,' said Daniel Bekele, who heads HRW in Africa.

Now, the United Nations (UN) has eventually beefed up its response against Gbagbo's regime, implementing tougher sanctions against him, his wife and three associates.

However, the Security Council fell short of referring Gbagbo and his supporters to the International Criminal Court.

Will sanctions work to shift Gbagbo out of power? Will West African nations take matters into their own hands and launch their own offensive? After all, the impact of this instability is felt far beyond the borders of Ivory Coast.

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