"At the end of my two-day stay, I would like to thank the Ivoirien authorities for the cordial welcome and the fruitful exchanges from which I have benefited here in Abidjan.
"IMF staff have been having discussions with the Ivoirien authorities-first in Abidjan, then in Washington, and again in Abidjan-over the last two months on an economic program that could be supported by Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance (EPCA) from the IMF. As announced on May 15, the negotiations have led to an agreement in principle that could be confirmed in the coming weeks once all elements are in place.
"Following the discussions I have been able to have with President Laurent Gbagbo, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, Minister of Economy and Finance Charles Diby, as well as several other high level officials, I am encouraged by the progress made on the political front, in particular the start made on implementing the Ouagadougou Agreement. I have noted that important milestones on the road map of the Agreement will be passed in the coming weeks, particularly regarding the disarmament of ex-combatants, the demobilization of militias, the redeployment of government services, and the identification of the population. Once these milestones have been passed, Côte d'Ivoire will genuinely move into the post-conflict era, leave the conflict behind it, and make a strong start on its economic and social recovery. This will also allow Côte d'Ivoire to obtain the concerted support from its external partners, including the IMF.
"The Ivoirien authorities have reiterated that the implementation of their economic program and the accompanying international support will allow Côte d'Ivoire to return to the path of sustained growth. Although from the outset of the crisis, the Ivoirien economy has demonstrated some degree of resilience, per capita incomes have deteriorated considerably and poverty has spread. A rapid resumption of strong growth-for which Côte d'Ivoire undoubtedly has the potential-is essential for reducing poverty and pursuing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
"At the heart of the economic policies discussed with the Ivoirien authorities is rigorous and transparent management of public finances to ensure the availability of the resources necessary for reunification, social services, and the rehabilitation of basic infrastructures. We also discussed the financing needs of the programs linked to emergence from the crisis, such as Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR), redeployment of government services, identification of the population, and organization of elections.
"All these elements form part of the financial program for 2007, for which the financing needs could be met through a concerted effort on the part of the international community, in particular the World Bank, the EU, the IMF, and other donors.
"I am encouraged by the assurances given by the government and the measures already taken to advance the process of ending the crisis, start the implementation of the economic program, and obtain the necessary financial support, including through an agreement in principle on the clearance of arrears to the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
"For its part, the International Monetary Fund remains ready to support Côte d'Ivoire in its efforts to emerge from the crisis and reconstruct the country. The sub region, Africa, and the international community need again a strong and prosperous Côte d'Ivoire."
IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT