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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Burkinabe-Ivorian border reopens

The governments of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso have reopened their common border, almost a year after it was closed when a civil war engulfed Ivory Coast.

A broadcast on Ivorian state television said all measures would be taken to ensure security and the free movement of people and goods.

A BBC reporter in Ouagadougou, Pierre Kazoni, says the move has been well received by the business community, rail workers and lorry drivers, who expect to resume their work across the border.

The decision followed a visit to Ivory Coast by Burkinabe Agriculture Minister Salif Diallo on Tuesday.

Border access is crucial for trade in landlocked Burkina Faso.

Trade

Our reporter says the border closure affected almost 30% of the Burkinabe population, whose income relied on cross-border trade, while cocoa and coffee farms in Ivory Coast have been idle for more than a year.

President Laurent Gbagbo
Mr Gbagbo's government accused Burkinabes of backing Ivorian rebels

Some 350,000 Burkinabe citizens who worked in Ivory Coast, mainly on the plantations, fled the country for Burkina Faso during the civil war. Ivorian military chiefs and rebels declared the war over on 4 July.

The decision to reopen the border sends a signal to people in both countries that Burkina Faso is no longer seen by Ivorians as supporting the rebels who oppose President Laurent Gbagbo. The allegation has always been denied by Burkinabe authorities.

The reopening of the border has been postponed three times since the border was closed last September.




SEE ALSO:
Burkina warns Ivory Coast
24 Oct 02  |  Africa
Wave of Ivory Coast arrests
29 Aug 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Burkina Faso
27 May 03  |  Country profiles
Burkina boosts schools access
12 Mar 03  |  Africa


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