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Houphouët-Boigny, Felix (1905–93)

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


President of the Ivory Coast (1960–94). The son of a tribal chief, he studied medicine at Dakar, Senegal and was a successful doctor, coffee planter and chief in the Ivory Coast. He became important politically in 1944, when he organized a union of African coffee planters, which in 1945 changed into the Parti Democratique de la Cote d'lvoire (PDCI), one of the earliest mass parties in Africa. Elected to the French National Assembly in 1946, where he successfully introduced a law to abolish forced labour in all French colonies, he held cabinet posts in several French governments from 1956–9. Houphouet became Prime Minister of the Ivory Coast in 1959 and President in 1960, on its independence. From that time the PDCI ruled the Ivory Coast as a one-party state, with a strictly controlled press. The remarkable stability of the country was due to French technical and financial aid, the presence of a French garrison and economic prosperity, though there was resentment among the educated at the slow pace of Africanization, with Frenchmen occupying many prominent positions in the civil service and the professions. Ivorians had an average income higher than anywhere else in Africa, except South Africa, but also the biggest per capita debt. The danger of exports relying so heavily on cocoa and coffee became apparent when the market collapsed in the 1980s. In 1990 he won a landslide victory ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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