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Félix Houphouët-Boigny

Félix Houphouët-Boigny (fālēks´ oofwā´-bwä´nye) (October 18, 1905 - December 7, 1993) was the first President of Côte d'Ivoire (1960 - 1993).

Under Houphouët-Boigny's ideologically moderate leadership, Côte d'Ivoire prospered economically due to a combination of sound planning, strong and moderate leadership, the maintenance of strong ties with the West (particularly France), and the development of the country's significant cocoa industry. Houphouët-Boigny moved the country's capital from Abidjan to his hometown of Yamoussoukro, and built the world's largest church there, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro.

Houphouët-Boigny was commonly known in the West as the "Sage of Africa" or the "Grand Old Man of Africa." In 1989, UNESCO created the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize for the "safeguarding, maintaining and seeking of peace."

After his death, conditions in Côte d'Ivoire deteriorated quickly. From 1994 until 2002 there were a number of coups, a currency devaluation, an economic recession, and beginning in 2002, the Civil war in Côte d'Ivoire.

Chronology

Houphouët-Boigny was born in Yamoussoukro in 1905, descended from wealthy Baoule chieftains, who possessed large cocoa and coffee plantations. He practiced medicine from 1925 to 1940, and then entered government service. He was elected chairman of the African Democratic Rally in 1946. From 1956-1957, he was minister delegate, involved in forming French colonial policy. He rose to prominence during the colonial period, when he founded the multinational party Rassemblement Démocratique Africain, which advocated independence for European colonies in Africa.

In 1960, Côte d'Ivoire achieved independence, and Houphouët-Boigny was president of the constituent assembly. In 1959 he became prime minister of the colonial parliament, and became president of the republic in 1960.

From 1960 to 1990, he was repeatedly elected president of Côte d'Ivoire for five year terms; however, no opposition parties were legal. During this period, Côte d'Ivoire grew to be the most stable and prosperous country in West Africa, due in large part to Houphouët-Boigny's strong and politically moderate leadership, and the maintenance of strong ties to France and South Africa.

In 1990 he was elected to his seventh five-year term and for the first time with the participation of legal opposition parties. He won with 89% of the vote. After that time, he grew increasingly feeble, and died in 1993 after a lengthy illness.

See also: List of Presidents of Côte d'Ivoire, Civil war in Côte d'Ivoirede:Félix Houphouët-Boigny fr:Félix Houphouët-Boigny nl:Félix Houphouët-Boigny

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