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World leaders pile pressure on Gbagbo to step down

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-12-18

As Ivory Coast’s leadership crisis drags on, world leaders, led by the UN, the EU and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, called on Ivorian incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo to admit defeat before the end of the weekend.

Incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo must admit defeat and quit his post following last month’s disputed presidential election, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Friday.

The call came as the EU and France threatened to impose more sanctions and urged army chiefs in the West African country to defect to Alassane Ouattara, whom the international community overwhelmingly recognises as the legitimate president.
“There was a clear winner. There is no other option," Ban Ki-Moon told reporters in New York. “The efforts of Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters to retain power and flout the public will cannot be allowed to stand. The international community must send this message - loud and clear. Any other outcome would make a mockery of democracy and the rule of law.”
Meanwhile, a statement published at the end of an EU summit “called on all Ivorian leaders, both civilian and military who have not yet done so, to place themselves under the authority of the democratically elected president, Mr Alassane Ouattara.”
Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, Ivory Coast’s former colonial ruler, gave Gbagbo 48 hours to step down.

“If, by the end of the week, he, Laurent Gbagbo - and his wife - has not left the post he is occupying in violation of the will of the Ivorian people, they will be added by name on the list of sanctions,” he warned.

“There is no other possibility than for Gbagbo to leave as soon as possible an office he usurped,” Sarkozy added.

Deadly violence

Ivory Coast’s economic capital Abidjan was a “ghost town” on Friday following clashes between troops loyal to the rival presidential contenders on Thursday.

At least 30 people were killed during the day as former rebels loyal to Ouattara's Prime Minister Guillaume Soro fought fierce gun battles with Gbagbo's government security forces in the sky scraper-lined city.

It was the first major outbreak of deadly violence since the November 28 presidential run-off.

On Friday the tension remains high although there have been so far no reports of fighting in the city.

“Abidjan is a ghost town,” said FRANCE 24’s Cyril Vanier, reporting from Ivory Coast. “The shops are closed and very few people are venturing out into the streets.

“The army controls all routes leading in and out of Ouattara strongholds. The situation remains very tense.”

In the wake of the disputed results, both Gbagbo and Ouattara have sworn themselves into office and appointed cabinets.

Another African emissary in town for talks

The West African nation has been in crisis since the Nov. 28 run-off. The political stalemate has ground economic activity in the world’s largest cocoa-growing nation to a halt.

In the latest attempt to resolve the situation, Jean Ping, chairman of the African Union

Commission, is set to hold talks with Gbagbo and Ouattara in Abidjan on Friday.

Ping’s visit follows earlier mediation efforts by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who failed to broker a resolution.

The AU - and the international community – is facing difficulties in trying to get Gbagbo to step down.

“It’s not clear what specific bargaining chip, if any, John Ping has when he begins his negotiations,” said Vanier.

Following Thursday’s violence, the US warned Gbagbo that he has “limited time” to cede power to his rival Ouattara.

Date created : 2010-12-17


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