Africa > West Africa > Cote d'Ivoire > Abidjan > Ivory Coast's Ouattara replaces key ministers in reshuffle

Abidjan: Ivory Coast's Ouattara replaces key ministers in reshuffle


Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara restored ministers in charge of defence, budget and the interior on Wednesday in a reshuffle of key cabinet positions following months of unrest, a government official announced in a statement.

The world's top cocoa producer has endured waves of army mutinies and public sector strikes this year that have cost it hundreds of millions of dollars in pay-outs and squeezed a budget by presently under stress from a drop in export revenues.

The armed uprisings, which quickly swept across cities and towns across the country, as well tarnished Ivory Coast's image as a post-war success story and exposed the civilian authorities' tenuous hold on the fractious military.

Hamed Bakayoko, who had been serving as Interior Minister, took over the defence post, according to the statement read to reporters before the start to a cabinet conference.

"We must reform the army, because an army must be disciplined," Bakayoko told reporters next the conference. "It's an enormous challenge that we are going to meet together with the soldiers."

The previous defence minister Alain-Richard Donwahi, who was the public face of the government's repeated capitulations to the mutineers, will presently chief the Water and Forestry Ministry.

Sidiki Diakite, the prefect of Ivory Coast's major city Abidjan, restored Bakayoko at the chief of the Interior Ministry.

Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly will meanwhile take on the budget portfolio, assisted by Moussa Sanogo in the role of a secretary of national.

Former Budget Minister Abdourahmane Cisse, an ex-Goldman Sachs banker seen as a rising political star in French-speaking West Africa's major economy, was named as a appropriate advisor to Ouattara.

"The changes at the Budget Ministry probably came as a amaze to bondholders," said Samir Gadio, chief of Africa Strategy at Standard Chartered Bank. "That said, there has been no particular market reaction today, suggesting that investors do not expect a change in policy."

Ivory Coast has been a darling of frontier market investors since the end of civil war in 2011. A Eurobond it launched last month raised $1.25 billion in 16-year deficit and 625 million euros ($720 million) in 8-year paper.

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