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Ivorian opposition's call for general strike falls flat

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-12-28

Most workers in Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan have ignored a call by presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara's (photo) party for a general strike strike to force Laurent Gbagbo out of power.

AFP - Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo saw off another challenge to his rule Monday as a call for a general strike fell flat and he prepared to face-down an ultimatum from West African leaders.

Gbagbo's rival Alassane Ouattara, who has been recognised as president by the international community but is trapped in his besieged headquarters hotel protected by UN peacekeepers, had called for a national shut-down.

But the sprawling commercial capital Abidjan, one of West Africa's biggest ports and the key to controlling the country, was as busy as ever, its streets snarled with traffic jams and its street markets packed with shoppers.

Ouattara's party had called on all citizens to stop work and to stay off until Gbagbo stepped down. "We should not let them steal our victory," said the RHDP party, in a statement signed by its director, Alphonse Djedje Mady.

But the statement came out late, and was not carried by the pro-Gbagbo state media. The incumbent's security forces keep the south of the country in an iron grip, and a previous attempt to stage a protest was met with deadly force.

Gbagbo's next challenge will be a meeting Tuesday with leaders from Benin, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone, who come carrying a message from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that Gbagbo must step down.

There seems little chance of that, however, and Gbagbo has warned that ECOWAS' threat of military action could plunge the region into war and endanger the millions of West African migrants living in Ivory Coast.

"If there is internal disorder, a civil war, there will be dangers, because we will not let our law, our constitution, be trampled on. People should get that idea out of their heads," Gbagbo told the French daily Le Figaro.

"We're not afraid. We are the ones who are attacked. We have the law on our side. How far are those attacking us prepared to go?" he demanded.

Date created : 2010-12-27

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