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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Ivorians shocked by president's pay
Presidential election campaign in 2000
The gap between rich and poor has widened
The salary of the Ivory Coast President, Laurent Gbagbo has been made public for the first time.

Most Ivorians have welcomed the move as an attempt to increase transparency at the top, but many have criticised what they consider to be exorbitant wages.


Big salaries for good-for-nothings... The state coffers will be empty before 2005

Le Nouveau Reveil
Mr Gbagbo earns 9.5m CFA francs (about US$15,000) a month, while his ministers get between four and seven million a month.

During his campaign for the presidential election two years ago, Mr Gbagbo had promised to reveal his earnings, something his predecessors did not do.

'Scandalous'

A newspaper close to his Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), Notre Voie, hails his initiative as a "break with the old order".

But most newspapers are shocked.

Mr Gbagbo's salary is "a scandalous amount for a poor country," says the independent Le Front.

A paper close to Alassane Ouattara's Rally of the Republicans (RDR), Le Patriote, says that "Gbagbo earns 273 times as much as someone on the minimum wage, and his ministers have had a 130% rise in pay".

Laurent Gbagbo
Gbagbo reportedly earns more than Jacques Chirac

The minimum wage in Ivory Coast is 35,000 CFA francs (about US$55).

"Big salaries for good-for-nothings... The state coffers will be empty before 2005 (when the next presidential election takes place)," says Le Nouveau Reveil, which is close to the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI).

The independent newspaper 24 Heures comments that Mr Gbagbo is better paid than Jacques Chirac, his opposite number in France, the former colonial power.

For Le Jour, the president's initiative "does not bring clear answers to the questions of ordinary people who feel they have been forgotten".

'Too much'

Residents of the main city, Abidjan, told the BBC's French service that Mr Gbagbo's wages were too high.

"Given the crisis the country is going through, 9.5 million is too much," one said.

"He should look at the unemployed," according to another.

A supporter of Mr Gbagbo said that the president, as the top civil servant, needed to earn a living commensurate with the importance of his position.

But all agreed that transparency was a good thing.

In May, Mr Gbagbo said in a television interview that he had not been paid since he came to power in October 2000.

Although he did not explain why, many thought it was an attempt to save money.

See also:

09 Jul 02 | Africa
06 Jul 02 | Media reports
30 Jun 02 | Africa
27 Jun 02 | Africa
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