Africa Dev't Bank says to stay in Tunisia, for now

MAPUTO, May 15 (Reuters) - The African Development bank will remain based in Tunisia for at least two years because conditions are still not conducive for its return to Ivory Coast, the group said on Thursday.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, has urged the bank to return to its permanent headquarters in Abidjan after it relocated from there in 2003 when a civil war split the country in two.

The government signed a peace deal with rebel forces last year but the disarmament of fighters on both sides has stalled and long-delayed presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June look likely to be pushed back again.

The AfDB said at the end of an annual meeting in Maputo it had taken note of Ivory Coast’s progress towards peace and stability, but resolved that the situation was not right for an immediate return.

“(The AfDB) hereby extends the temporary relocation period for 12 months from 3 June 2008,” it said in a statement.

The continental lender also decided that it would give a year’s notice after a final decision on whether to move back to Abidjan was taken, to help ensure proper planning and an orderly transfer of operations. (Reporting by Gordon Bell; Editing by Jon Boyle)