“It celebrates the men and women who carried a great dream of freedom”
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“It celebrates the men and women who carried a great dream of freedom”
  • Lee Kyung-sik
  • 승인 2020.09.07 17:09
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Declares President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire on the Independence Day

The following message to the Nation from President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire, issued on the occasion of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the independence of Cote d’Ivoire, was contributed by the Embassy of Cote d’Ivoire in Seoul for publication by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
 

Ivorians, my dear compatriots,

Dear friends of Côte d'Ivoire,

Côte d'Ivoire is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its independence on Friday, August 7, 2020. This date marks an important date in the history of our country. It celebrates the men and women who carried a great dream of freedom for each of us. First of all, I have a thought for the founding father of the Ivorian Nation, our model, President Félix HOUPHOUËT-BOIGNY, and for his companions who, united and together, fought and obtained the independence of our country. The celebration of this 60th anniversary of the independence of our country is a tribute to their memory. This celebration is also a tribute to all these generations of men and women who have worked and who continue to work, sometimes at the cost of ultimate sacrifices, to build our beloved Côte d'Ivoire.

 

President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire
President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire

I am thinking in particular of all our farmer parents who make up the wealth of our country, of all our civil servants devoted to the service of the country, of our business leaders and agents of the private sector from all background, whose commitment and ingenuity are the dynamism of our economy, to our teachers at all levels who train our youth in the challenges of their time, to our doctors and health personnel who watch over us, to our Defense and Security Forces who give their lives to protect our own, to all our religious guides and traditional leaders, guardians of our values, to our artists and artisans who contribute to enrich and promote our culture, to our young people who aspire to a bright future, to our women, our mothers, our daughters and to all our compatriots who contribute to the life of the Nation.

 

President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire
President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire

My dear compatriots,

August 7 is also the time when the whole nation pays homage to the great servants of our country, to all these builders, illustrious or unknown, still active or missing.

In particular, I am thinking of those who have left us recently:

- to Chief Brigadier DEGRÉ Djédjé Simplice and his men, who fell in the field of honor, during the attack on the mixed post of the Army and Gendarmerie in Kafolo, in June 2020, while defending our ideal of peace and security;

- to President Charles KOFFI DIBY, Grand Servant of the country;

- to former Prime Minister Seydou Elimane DIARRA, great architect of dialogue and consensus;

- to Cheick BOIKARY FOFANA and Monsignor Pierre-Mary COTY, two men of God, defenders of the values ​​of love, tolerance, and fraternity.

 

Photo shows President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire (left) with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who was formerly the minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Korea.
Photo shows President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire (left) with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who was formerly the minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Korea.

I am also thinking of Prime Minister Amadou GON COULIBALY, statesman of great competence, model of loyalty, hard work, and selflessness. The emotion of his sudden demise on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, is still alive. However, his dedication and love for Côte d'Ivoire have been such that we must pursue, with determination, all the projects for which he has worked, with energy, for years. The national and international tribute that has been paid to him is the recognition of his value and the sacrifices made for our country.

May the souls of all our dead rest in peace.

My dear compatriots,

The celebration of this August 7, 2020 was to be an occasion of great joy. We planned to make it a moment to remember, with a large military and civilian parade in Yamoussoukro, our political capital. A parade of all the forces of the Nation to illustrate the progress made by our country in recent years.

Unfortunately, the health crisis linked to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has severely affected Côte d'Ivoire, like almost all countries in the world. Faced with this reality, we have decided to limit the celebration of the Independence Day 2020 to a symbolic ceremony of taking up arms on the esplanade of the Palace of the Presidency of the Republic. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic has led to the slowdown in economic activities, job losses in the private sector and a significant drop in income in the informal sector. The living conditions of vulnerable households have deteriorated.

 

Ambassador Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'Ivoire
Ambassador Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'Ivoire

The GDP growth rate, initially forecast at 7% in this year 2020, could drop significantly to 0.8% if the crisis lasts until the end of the year. We remain optimistic, however, because the foundations of our economy are solid.

The government reacted quickly with the establishment of a Health Response Plan, amounting to 95 billion 880 million CFA francs ($170,83 million), to curb the progression of the disease and an Economic Support Plan, Social and Humanitarian of 1,700 billion CFA francs ($ 3,028 billion). These plans, well-sized and adapted to the structure of our society, allow Côte d’Ivoire to control this pandemic and to support the populations and businesses affected by the crisis.

I would like, once again, to thank and congratulate all the health personnel, the police, the media and all the goodwill that remains mobilized to provide the support of the country to all the victims of this pandemic.

I bow to the memory of the dead. I reiterate my sincere condolences to their families.

Recent figures, communicated by the Watch Committee, chaired by the Minister of Health and Public Hygiene, show that even if cases of contagion are decreasing, this disease is still a reality; the pandemic is unfortunately not over. I, therefore, want to call, once again, every Ivorian, every people of our country, to responsibility and discipline, by applying barrier gestures, although the restrictive measures have been lifted. It is in the life of each of us.

 

My dear compatriots,

Dear brothers, dear sisters,

I would like to show my solidarity to all our compatriots who have lost loved ones or who were affected by the recent floods and landslides caused by the torrential rains which fell on the District of Abidjan and some towns inside the country. I salute, once again, the memory, courage and commitment of all our valiant soldiers who lost their lives defending the homeland during the attack on the mixed Army-Gendarmerie post in Kafolo.

I welcome the action of the General Staff of the Armies and our Defense and Security Forces, which made it possible to identify and arrest the perpetrators of this terrorist attack. I would like to reassure all our fellow citizens that faced with the terrorist threat, the National Security Council remains strongly mobilized. All measures are taken to secure our land borders, our air space and our maritime approaches as well as for the protection of our population throughout the national territory.

My dear compatriots,

Dear brothers, dear sisters,

This August 7, 2020 marks the 9th year of my management in the service of Côte d’Ivoire. Nine years during which we have worked tirelessly to put Côte d'Ivoire on an irreversible development path. We have thus pacified the whole country and brought peace and security to the entire territory. We have reformed and made our army more professional to face the current challenges of security and the fight against terrorism. We have redeployed our administration across the country, bringing the Nation closer to our fellow citizens and to the most remote locations. We have given a status to our traditional Kings and Chiefs in order to strengthen their role of mediation in the Republic. We have made our economy one of the most dynamic in the world, with good economic and financial policies and strong governance. We continue to work so that all our fellow citizens benefit from the fruits of growth.

Despite a particularly difficult context this year, we continued to implement the Priority Actions Program and major social projects. Thus, we have connected millions of our fellow citizens to electricity and drinking water. We have brought them closer to schools and health centers thanks to massive investments. We launched universal health coverage. We have substantially improved the income of our farmer parents, increased the salaries and the minimum wage of civil servants; we have financed the projects of young people and women for the happiness of millions of Ivorian families. We have provided our country with modern infrastructure and opened up hundreds of localities. We have relaunched social housing programs for Ivorian middle-class and low-income families. We have extended the social safety net program which now covers a good part of the national territory.

All these actions have made it possible to reduce poverty by 15.6 percentage points since 2011. Thus, the Regional Poverty Study of the ECOWAS and the World Bank confirms that Côte d'Ivoire has gone from poverty rate from 55.01% in 2011 to 39.4% in 2018. More than 4 million Ivorians have been lifted out of poverty. We must also continue the dynamic of economic transformation, one of the strong expectations of which remains the employment of young people and women as well as social development. Côte d'Ivoire must also look to the future. This is why the government is working to complete programming and strategic planning through, in particular, the finalization of Côte d'Ivoire 2030 Diagnostic and Strategy study, the National Development Plan (PND 2021-2025), and the Public Investment Plan (PIP 2021-2023).


My dear compatriots,

It is important that these performances can be maintained for the next few years, in peace and stability. And for peace, we have amnestied almost all the civilian prisoners of the post-election crisis; most of our fellow refugees have been repatriated, guaranteeing their safety, and facilitating the reintegration into the administration of those who were civil servants. This Thursday, August 6, 2020, I signed a decree granting a collective pardon. This pardon will benefit approximately 2,000 of our fellow citizens convicted of minor offenses.

My dear compatriots,

One of the major challenges of this year 2020 is also the presidential election of October 31, 2020. It is imperative that this electoral deadline be respected, to anchor democracy in our country. Yes, democracy is about holding elections on the dates set out in the Constitution. The government has been working on this for several months and important steps have already been taken. After the reform of the Independent Electoral Commission, the revision of the Electoral Code and the electoral list, our country is resolutely committed to free, transparent and peaceful elections. The recent decision of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights does not call into question the law establishing the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission). In this regard, I welcome the participation of all the opposition in the structures of the IEC, following this decision. The government's goal is that these elections allow us to definitively close the dark pages of our recent history that none of us want to relive. This is why I invite each political formation, each candidate, to also work to achieve this objective so that these elections are a great moment of peaceful and exemplary democracy.

My dear compatriots,

As far as I am concerned, as you know, I shared with the whole Nation, on March 5, in front of the Parliament in Yamoussoukro, of my will, although the new Constitution authorizes me to do so, not to apply for election and to hand over power to a new generation. Since this decision, I had started to organize my retirement; to make all the arrangements on a personal and political level. I had planned my life after the Presidency. I had undertaken to relaunch the activities of my Institute and to create the “International Foundation ADO”, its location is being finished. I thus envisioned putting my experience in economic matters and governance at the service of the country and institutions that wish to. At the political level, my decision led to the appointment, on March 12, 2020, of a candidate, team leader of this new generation of competent and dedicated executives, able to preserve our country's achievements in terms of peace and of progress. But, as the saying goes: “Man proposes, God disposes.” The recent tragic events, with the demise of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, leave a void in the team that I had put in place to pursue and consolidate the economic and social development program for which you trusted me.

Moreover, the very tight schedule, barely three months before the presidential election; the challenges we face for the maintenance of peace, national and sub-regional security as well as the need to curb the health crisis; the risk that all the gains, after so much effort and sacrifice made by the entire population, will be compromised; the risk that our country will decline in many areas; all of this leads me to reconsider my position. Faced with this case of force majeure and out of civic duty, I decided to respond favorably to the call of my fellow citizens asking me to be a candidate for the presidential election of October 31, 2020.

I am therefore a candidate for the presidential election of October 31, 2020.

I can assure you that this decision, carefully considered, is a duty that I accept in the best interests of the Nation, in order to continue to put my experience tirelessly at the service of our country. Given the importance I attach to my commitments and to the word given, this decision represents a real sacrifice for me, which I fully assume out of love for my country. With this decision, I also want to take the time to finish preparing for the succession. I also intend to strengthen the efforts to bring together and reconcile all our compatriots.

My dear compatriots,

Dear friends of Côte d’Ivoire,

In conclusion, I would like to say that despite the very specific context, the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the independence of Côte d'Ivoire remains a highlight for our country. 60 is the age of wisdom and achievement. In 60 years, our country has come a long way. Of course, as in all life, there have been ups and downs, but we can be proud of how far we have come and confident about the future. I am convinced that through the commitment and work of all the forces of the Nation, in unity and peace, we will succeed in building for ourselves and for our children a better Côte d’Ivoire.

I have faith in each of our fellow citizens, in our love for Côte d’Ivoire, our beautiful country. I am confident that we will find deep and strong reasons within ourselves to preserve the peace and stability of our country at all costs. It is for me both a hope and a very strong conviction.

Happy Independence Day to all of you.

Long live the Republic!

Long live Côte d’Ivoire!

May God bless our beautiful country!


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