ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Ivory Coast's president said Thursday he hopes to reduce unemployment by 2 million during his second term in office, backing a campaign promise that opponents said he failed to fulfill during his first term.
President Alassane Ouattara told The Associated Press that he had already started reducing unemployment in the agricultural sector.
Since Ouattara came to power in 2011, the cocoa-producing powerhouse has experienced economic growth. He campaigned on the impressive rebound, but critics say citizens have not benefited and many Ivorians complain about the high cost of living.
"Over the past four years I have reduced unemployment by two million people," he said, adding that a good part of that was in the agricultural sector. "Certainly in the next 5 years we should be able to reach this target to decrease unemployment by another 2 million."
Ouattara was a favorite going into the Oct. 25 presidential poll and easily won re-election, facing a divided opposition that failed to gain traction.
He also vowed to promote justice and reconciliation, though critics have said that such post-conflict reconciliation has been minimal, and justice one-sided.
After Ouattara defeated incumbent Laurent Gbagbo in 2010, Gbagbo's refusal to leave office led to months of fighting that killed more than 3,000 people and dragged on until Gbagbo's arrest in April 2011. Gbagbo is set to go on trial next year for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Ouattara said that everyone will be judged.
"In this country, there will be no impunity, no discrimination. All those who committed severe crimes are being pursued and they will be judged," he told AP.
The Ivory Coast president said he would also focus on changing the constitution with a referendum next year, and that he can guarantee a two-term presidential limit.