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Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire gained its independence from France in 1960. French is the official language, but the multiethnic population speaks sixty native dialects, of which Dioula is the most common. The Akan are the largest ethnic group. In 1983 the capital moved from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro, although Abidjan remains the commercial and administrative centre. From its independence until a military coup overthrew the Government in 1999, Côte d'Ivoire was a prosperous economy. The years since have been marked by rebellions, coup attempts and civil war. The United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) was deployed in 2004 to facilitate the implementation of the 2003 peace agreement signed by Ivorian parties to end the civil war. Progress was made in the integration of former rebel forces into the Ivorian army, but elections were delayed until 2010. In those United Nations-certified elections, incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo was ousted by Alassane Ouattara, who won with 54.1 per cent of the vote. Gbagbo refused to accept the outcome and between November 2010 and April 2011 the country descended into civil war. Gbagbo was forcibly removed from office by Ouattara supporters aided by UN and French forces and now awaits trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity committed during the post-election period.

Following the 2010 Presidential election and the ensuing political crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, UNOCI has remained on the ground to support the new Ivorian Government. In line with the improved security situation and greater political stability, the UN Security Council has progressively lowered UNOCI’s troop levels since 2012. The next presidential elections are due in 2015 and President Ouattara intends to run. He has focused his presidency on rebuilding the country’s infrastructure and establishing economic and political stability. Côte d'Ivoire is the world’s largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans and a significant producer and exporter of coffee and palm oil – agriculture employs some two-thirds of the population. The Government is trying to boost gold and oil production - the latter was discovered in 2012.

Côte d'Ivoire is a member of La Francophonie, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States. Australia’s diplomatic representation to Côte d'Ivoire is from the High Commission in Accra, Ghana.

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