• Short Summary

    More than fifteen years have passed since Ivory Coast gained its independence form France. During?

  • Description

    1974 GV Houphouet-Boigny arriving at stadium, waving to crowds from open car

    1960 (B/W) SV Houphouet-Boigny signing independence document, followed by French governor; and received key of independence (4 shots)

    TV INT Congregation at funeral service for General de gaulle in Notre Dame, Paris, and shots of Houphouet-Boigny seated during service (1970) (4 shots)

    (1971) SV President greeted at dam construction site; women applaud; tractors filling in dam works (5 shots)

    1970 SV President gives Christmas gifts to school-children (3 shots)

    1970 SV President enters chamber and greeted by Supreme Court president; judges look on during swearing-in ceremony; ministers applaud and congratulated President (6 shots)

    (1971) GV National Assembly; building (2 shots)

    CU President speaking in French (SOF IN "Avant do ...OUT... politique. (8 shots)

    (1975) Houphouet-Boigny accompanied by General Gowon and President Oul? Daddah enter; housemen around heads of state during signing of treaty (3 shots)

    CU Houphouet-Boigny signing & GV during signing

    SYNOPSIS: Ivory Coast President, Felix Houphouet-Boigny--here leading last year's independence anniversary festivities--celebrates his seventieth birthday this week, October the eighteenth. He's been Ivory Coast's only head of state since the country gained independence from France fifteen years ago.

    After a distinguished political career as Ivory Coast's representative in the French National Assembly for thirteen years, he led his nation into independent statehood on August the seventh, nineteen sixty. Monsieur Houphouet-Boigny had played a significant role in drafting the legislation towards independence for many of France's overseas possessions...and was a strong supporter of General Charles de Gaulle. In 1970, he joined many other world leaders to mourn the French President in Paris.

    Even after independence, President Houphouet-Boigny continued to emphasis the importance of links with France, welcoming French investment in Ivory Coast.

    Overseas aid and finance have assisted Ivory Coast in its post-colonial economic expansion and development. Projects like the Kossou Dam--providing hydro-electricity and irrigation--have made Ivory Coast into one of West Africa's most prosperous states.

    And President Houphouet-Boigny has retained the affection and respect of his people through stable government...and actions like this ...a distribution of Christmas gifts to outstanding scholars. With his own party, the Parti Democratique de Cote d'Ivoire, the country's only legal political organisation he's remained unchallenged at the ballot box in every election since independence. Nevertheless, two plots on his position ... and possibly his life ... were uncovered in the early nineteen sixties.

    In the last presidential election in nineteen seventy, he polled almost one hundred per cent ... an unchallenged candidate. Five years after this, his third inauguration, he is about to announce whether he'll stand again. The announcement is due on Wednesday three days before his birthday.

    In African affairs, President Houphouet-Boigny has maintained an outspoken stand on many issues.

    In nineteen seventy-one, he spoke out strongly in favour of dialogue with South Africa in what he described as "a perspective of peace through neutrality". Three years later he became one of Black Africa's first leaders to hold talks with the Pretoria Government when South African Prime Minister, John Vorster, paid a secret visit to the Ivory Coast capital, Abidjan. This meeting, and a reciprocal visit by an Ivory Coast Cabinet minister last month, have not pleased the country's more militant partners in the Organisation of African Unity.

    In regional affairs, Ivory Coast policies under President Houphouet-Boigny have helped strengthen West African relations. In May this year, he joined fourteen other Leaders to establish the wide ranging Economic Community of West African States ... President Houphouet-Boigny's achievements in office have been manifold and lasting. His record of continuous government is one many world leaders might envy.

    Initials BB/1910 EM/AU/BB/2005

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: More than fifteen years have passed since Ivory Coast gained its independence form France. During that time it has enjoyed one of the most stable political systems in the whole of the African continent, under the guidance of one leader, President Felix Houphouet-Boigny.

    This week (18 October), President Houphouet-Boigny will celebrate his seventieth birthday. Three days before--on Wednesday (15 October)--he will announce whether or not he is prepared to stand for election as Ivory Coast's leader for yet another term of office.

    Born in 1905 the son of a prosperous planter and descended from a long line of traditional tribal chieftains, M. Houphouet-Boigny's entry into the political arena came with the campaign to establish Ivory Coast's first agricultural trades union, dedicated to abolishing the system of forced labour among African workers.

    The success of the campaign in 1946 opened the way for the aspiring leader's 13 distinguished years as Ivory Coast's deputy in the French National Assembly. During this time he served for two years in the French government, a great honour for the representative of one of France's overseas territories.

    As the movement to end colonial rule in Africa gained momentum, M. Houphoust-Boigny played an increasingly significant role in the legislation giving internal self-government to France's overseas possessions. A strong supporter of General Charles de Gaulle, in 1958 he campaigned vigorously for acceptance of the de Gaulle constitution... and Ivory Coast, like all French African territories apart from Guinea, voted for autonomy within the French community.

    But in 1960, together with his associates on the Conseil de entente (Niger, Dahomey and Upper Volta), he decided that the situation had changed radically with the provision of special arrangements then being made for Mali. Ivory Coast and its three Conseil partners demanded full independence before negotiating new co-operation accords with France.

    Full independence came on 7 August 1960, when President Felix Houphouet-Boigny took formal possession of the ceremonial key symbolising Ivory Coast's entry into the free community of nations.

    His eminence at the ballot box since then has been complete. The Parti Democratique de Cote d'Ivoire is the country's only legal political organisation, and as its head, the President has enjoyed unchallenged an almost 100 per cent "yes" vote in all elections since 1960. The country's governmental stability compares favourably with the turmoil and upheavals in numerous other African states.

    In its post-independence years, Ivory Coast has experienced a highly successful period of economic expansion and development. Already a leading member of OCAM (the Francophone Organisation Africaine at Malgache), Ivory Coast joined with 14 other West African nations earlier this year in the formation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ... an organisation linking West Africa regardless of its different colonial traces.

    But what has possibly been President Houphouet-Boigny's most significant move over the past year, and longer, has been the opening of talks between Ivory Coast and South Africa. As early as 1971, he stood out openly for dialogue with the white-dominated state, and in September 1974 hosted South African President John Vorster during a secret visit to Abidjan. The visit was returned last month by Ivory Coast Information Minister, Mr. Laurent Dona-Fologo, but the move towards better relations with Pretoria has not pleased many of Ivory Coast's more militant co-members of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), who oppose any sort of dialogue with Mr. Vorster's regime.

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