US outcry at Gbagbo cocoa grab

A move by Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo to take the cocoa sector into state hands “amounts to theft,” the US State Department said yesterday. Ivory Coast state television said that Gbagbo had issued a decree under which the state becomes the sole purchaser of cocoa in the world’s top grower and handles its export to world markets.

Cocoa futures have broken 30-year highs since a disputed election in November that has triggered a power struggle between Gbagbo and rival presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara, judged by the United Nations to have won.