According to the Associated Press, port officials have loaded Ivory Coast''s first shipment of beans in several months as the world''s largest cocoa producer resumed exportation now that the democratically elected president finally has taken office. Cocoa exports came to a halt in mid-January when internationally recognized president Alassane Ouattara called for an export ban to starve his rival financially, causing cocoa prices to skyrocket. Longtime leader Laurent Gbagbo had refused to cede power after losing the election, and the battle for the presidency left hundreds dead and nearly pushed the country back to civil war. Ouattara finally took the oath of office, a month after Gbagbo was ultimately forced from the presidential residence by pro-Ouattara fighters backed by French and U.N. forces. Most major exporters, including American firms Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, as well as Swiss firm Barry Callebaut, complied with Ouattara''s cocoa ban because the European Union had put sanctions against Ivory Coast''s ports, effectively preventing any exports from leaving the country. About 500,000 tons were held up during the conflict, roughly a third of the country''s projected crop of 1.4 million tons.