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Cablegate: Political Party Youth Leaders Offer Little But

P 151651Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4378

UNCLAS ABIDJAN 000462


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON IV
SUBJECT: POLITICAL PARTY YOUTH LEADERS OFFER LITTLE BUT
RHETORIC

REF: ABIDJAN 396


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a country where over half of the
population is under 25 and job opportunities for young people
are scarce, political parties have had little trouble in the
recent past mobilizing youth for violent ends during times of
political crisis. In light of the looming November 30th
election deadline, the PolEcon Chief and PolOff met with
youth leaders from the major political parties to gauge their
opinions on how youth might play a role in the electoral
process given the current political climate. Although all of
the leaders agreed that youth unemployment continues to be a
serious problem, pre-election political party activities
offer little in the way of solutions. END SUMMARY

2. (SBU) The PolEcon Chief and PolOff met with youth leaders
from the three main political parties - the Front Populaire
Ivoirien (FPI), Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR), and the
Parti Democratique de la Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI) -- as well as
two of the smaller parties active in politics, the Parti
Ivoirien des Travailleurs (PIT) and the Mouvement des Forces
de l'Avenir (MFA). All were quick to state that unemployment
is a major problem for young people in Cote d'Ivoire.
Despite the consensus however, political parties are doing
little to address the problem. FPI youth president Navigue
Konate told Emboffs that the FPI has youth programs, but
cannot put them into place because the government is focusing
on elections and the "unicite des caisses" is not really
functional. (Note: "unicite des caisses" is the process
through which the government is trying to reassert its
authority to collect taxes in areas held by the New Forces.)
The only jobs available, says Navigue and PDCI youth
president Konan Bertin Kouadio, are in government -- a
situation which was exacerbated by the drop off in private
sector employment opportunities since the country's political
crisis began in 2002.

3. (SBU) Political parties' lack of programs targeting youth
have not dissuaded them from campaigning around the country,
trying to drum up support among their parties' younger
constituents. When Emboffs asked why youth projects are not
being implemented, the oft-repeated refrain was that nothing
substantive can happen until elections take place. The two
smaller parties (PIT, MFA) also cited a lack of funding.
Both PIT and MFA, however, had clear party platforms that
they outlined for Emboffs; the PDCI and RDR youth leaders
would not provide details.

4. (SBU) What all of the youth leaders did agree on was that
the possibility of seeing the types of violent youth mobs
that militant youth leader Ble Goude mobilized in 2004 has
considerably decreased (see Reftel). Although there are
still some "extremists" who are loyal to Ble Goude, Kouadio
(PDCI) says Ble Goude's influence with young people has
declined and he can no longer organize the sheer numbers of
people he once could. MFA youth leader Simeon Kpanhi and PIT
youth president Guillaume Tano both attribute this decline in
Ble Goude's influence to an overall change in young people's
perceptions. They believe that having seen Ble Goude and
other FPI leaders enrich themselves while their young
followers continue to remain poor has resulted in a steady
loss of support since the height of the crisis.


NESBITT

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