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Ivory Coast bank shuts as fears grow

People waited in line in front of a branch of the pan-African bank Ecobank in Abidjan yesterday. People waited in line in front of a branch of the pan-African bank Ecobank in Abidjan yesterday. (Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images)
Associated Press / February 17, 2011

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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — A third bank shut its doors yesterday amid a political crisis in Ivory Coast, as residents in the commercial hub lined up at banks to try to withdraw their savings amid rumors of a cash shortage.

British bank Standard Chartered confirmed in an e-mail yesterday that it had suspended its operations in Ivory Coast, joining two other banks, BICICI and Citibank, and the regional stock exchange.

Crowds formed outside several banks, which swung their large metal gates closed to prevent the front doors from being rushed.

Two months after a contested presidential election that led incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo to refuse to cede power, international financial pressure supporting his opponent, Alassane Ouattara, has finally made its presence felt.

A manager at the Ivorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry who requested anonymity said he was certain nearly every bank would close in coming days.

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