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A New Tool for Squeezing the Regime in Cote d’Ivoire…and Preventing Odious Obligations

This is a joint post with Cindy Prieto.

As the Cote d’Ivoire standoff moves into Day Ten, pressure is mounting on Laurent Gbagbo who lost the election to Alassane Ouattara but refuses to stand down. The African Union and ECOWAS have suspended the country, and the United States and Europe have each threatened Gbagbo with financial sanctions, asset freezes, and travel bans unless he relents.

As cash becomes scarce and the junta more desperate, Gbagbo and his inner circle might try to quickly borrow money or start a fire sale. This would not only provide fuel for potential conflict, but also saddle the Ouattara government with new debts once they get in the seat. One additional way of squeezing Gbagbo and avoiding this outcome is contract sanctions, as proposed in the recent report of CGD’s Prevention of Odious Debt Working Group led by John Williamson, Michael Kremer, and Seema Jayachandran.