- civil war - France - Ivory Coast - Laurent Gbagbo - Switzerland
Gbagbo denounces Western 'conspiracy' to remove him
Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo has denounced a Western "conspiracy" to oust him and likened his situation to that of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe as his rival for the presidency called for a general strike on Monday.
“There is a conspiracy against me,” said Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo in an interview with French daily Le Figaro, published Monday. The incumbent Ivorian president has refused to bow to international pressure and step down after a disputed presidential run-off on Nov. 28.
Both Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara have claimed victory in the election, but most members of the international community, including the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, have recognised Ouattara as the legitimate president.
Last Friday, the west African regional bloc ECOWAS threatened to oust Gbagbo by force if he did not step down voluntarily.
In response to this ultimatum, a defiant Gbagbo told Le Figaro, “This would be the first time that African countries would be ready to go to war against a country because an election went badly!”
Calling Ivory Coast a “modern nation,” in which he had been constitutionally elected, he compared it to other African countries with electoral troubles. “If one went to war in all these cases, I believe that Africa would be perpetually at war,” he said.
The 65-year-old leader said that in Ivory Coast, “the UN and its head [of mission] had shown themselves to be partisan”. He named “above all” the French and US ambassadors as the principal actors in a conspiracy against him.
With an ECOWAS delegation due in Abidjan on Tuesday, Gbabgo said he was open to discussion, though adding that “the rules of the country” made him the legitimate president.
“We are not afraid”, he said. “We are in the right. Until what point are those who threaten us prepared to go?”
Gbabgo added, “And when one goes through what I have, one tells oneself that Mugabe wasn’t totally wrong”.
Zimbabwe’s strongman Robert Mugabe has held on to power for nearly 23 years despite defeat in a 2008 election, overseeing his country’s ruinous economic downfall.
Some 14,000 Ivorians have already fled the country after scores died in clashes between the Gbagbo and Ouattara camps, the UN said over the weekend. Ouattara’s supporters have called for a general strike in Ivory Coast starting Monday.