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Ivory Coast targets police, gendermarie in corruption crackdown

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Rebecca Blackwell/2011 AP

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast has launched several operations against corruption in the public services, particularly the police and gendarmerie, a persistent scourge in the country, the Minister for the Promotion of Good Governance announced Tuesday.

"The message is: beware of fraud, beware of racketeering, the state sees you," said Zoro Epiphane Ballo, head of the Ministry for the Promotion of Good Governance, Capacity Building and the Fight against Corruption, created last April.

According to the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, the world's leading non-governmental anti-corruption organization, Côte d'Ivoire has improved its performance since 2013 and ranks 104th out of 180 countries.

"Ivorians' perception of corruption has not improved," the minister acknowledged at a press briefing. He said corruption is "a major challenge to good governance, sustainable growth, peace and development.

Several sectors of the public service have already been targeted by operations aimed at collecting evidence of corruption.

The police and gendarmerie are particularly targeted for bribes taken from food vendors on the roads of Côte d'Ivoire.

"These practices have a definite effect on the rise in prices of consumer products. Racketeering is linked to the high cost of living," said Mr. Ballo, as many Ivorians complain about the price of foodstuffs.

The technical road control services are also considered a priority sector, while education, health and justice are also closely monitored by the ministry.

The results of these investigations have been transmitted to the authorities. Regarding the police and gendarmerie, the government commissioner, who is responsible for prosecuting military personnel who have broken the law, has been notified.

In a 2017 survey by Afrobarometer, one in two Ivorians said they paid bribes to police or gendarmerie officers to avoid problems, one in three paid government officials to obtain documents, and two-thirds considered reporting corruption to be dangerous because of the risk of reprisals.

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