Ivory Coast cocoa purchases have declined by half after protests emerged across the country in defiance to the October 31 presidential elections.

The protest have so far claimed the lives of dozens and President Alassane Quatara has been declared the winner with the opposition forming a rival government in defiance.

Middlemen who play a vital role in purchasing the crop from farmers in the hinterland then selling them to exporters in the commercial capital Abidjan say they have been unable to reach the farms due to barricades erected by protestors.

“All my trucks are staying in today. I don’t want to take a risk because if there’s a problem, the insurance won’t reimburse me,” said Tiemoko Coulibaly, a buyer in the southwestern town of Tai.

Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, remains in a volatile situation, with the United Nations confirming on Tuesday that more than 8,000 refugees have crossed the western border into Liberia.

The government denies there has been major violence in the western part of the country where most fighting occurred during the 2010-11 civil war.

President Alassane Ouattara was officially certified on Monday as the winner of the election, but his main opponents have refused to recognise his victory, saying he did not have the right to stand for a third term in office.

Some of those opponents now face criminal charges for creating a rival government.

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