The massive price rises of basic food stuffs over the last few years are an international phenomenon.
The people in Ivory Coast have shown that struggling against this is not only possible, but can be successful.
Hundreds of thousands of people, mainly women, demonstrated in the streets of Abidjan – the capital of Ivory Coast – against the massive price rises of food and fuel. The demonstration was met with a brutal response from the police. They baton charged the crowd and used teargas. The police shot live bullets into the demonstration killing one woman and seriously injuring ten others.
The crowd defended themselves by burning tyres. They pleaded with the police to cross the lines and join the demonstration.
After two days of mass protest president Gbagbo was forced to give in and reduce the price for staple foods and petrol.
The high increase in prices of staple foods means people are going hungry every day. Josette Sheeran, leader of the UN world food programme, commented on the emergence of a new kind of food crisis: “We see more hunger in the cities than ever before. We see often that while there is enough food on the shelves, people are going hungry because they cannot afford to buy it”
Protests like this are increasing across the whole of Africa. In countries like Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Senegal similar protest movements against price rises have taken place in the last few weeks.
What happened in Ivory Coast is a victory for the workers and poor. It will raise the self confidence and consciousness of the people and could clear the way for new protests and mass movements.