Power Struggle Pushes Country Toward Civil War
Ivory Coast An interminable political deadlock teetered toward outright civil war as gun battles raged between troops loyal to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and supporters of his opponent, Alassane Ouattara. According to the U.N., Ouattara was the winner of the November presidential election. But Gbagbo, who has ruled Ivory Coast for almost a decade, refused to recognize the results, an act that plunged the country into crisis. Businesses in the commercial capital, Abidjan, are shuttered, and the global price of cocoa (of which Ivory Coast is the world's biggest exporter) has risen to a 32-year high. Reports are mounting of gangs of young Gbagbo supporters intimidating foreigners, local journalists and U.N. officials, while Gbagbo's troops and antigovernment militias clashed in Abidjan's environs, leaving dozens dead. Diplomats fear the conflict may escalate. Around 100,000 Ivorians have been displaced by the fighting so far.
World by the Numbers
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New area code planned for New York City--its seventh--as the city continues to run out of phone numbers
$380 million EQUATORIAL GUINEA
Price of a yacht reportedly ordered by the son of the country's dictator; it's almost three times what Guinea spends on education and health
150 NEW ZEALAND
Estimated age in years of a time capsule found in the city of Christchurch after it was hit by a devastating 6.3 earthquake
2,080 ft. JAPAN
Final height of a transmission tower under construction in Tokyo; it will be the tallest broadcast tower in the world
$3.8 million QATAR
Value of a diamond-studded purse, the world's most expensive, at an exhibition in Doha
Irish Voters Boot Out The Old Guard, But Its Successors Have Much to Do
The Fianna Fail party, which has dominated Irish politics for the better part of a century, suffered a historic defeat at the polls Feb. 25. Its victorious opponents, Fine Gael, in coalition with Labour, swept in atop a wave of public fury at a government that presided over the catastrophic 2008 collapse of Ireland's economy. The country faces a high unemployment rate and crippling national debt.
Sarkozy Reshuffles His Cabinet. Can the New Ministers Rescue a Government Under Pressure?
President Nicolas Sarkozy made new appointments in several key Cabinet positions--his fourth such shake-up in a year. The most significant change: the axing of scandal-tarnished Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie (below), who had been in her position for only three months. Alliot-Marie's ties to prominent businessmen and political figures in Tunisia sparked controversy when protests gripped the North African nation and eventually unseated the long-ruling dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. Reports that Alliot-Marie privately backed Ben Ali to stay in power, contrary to public opinion in both countries, fueled widespread criticism of the Sarkozy government.
The Kids Are Not All Right