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EXCLUSIVE: Ouattara says Gbagbo 'can stay' in Ivory Coast

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-01-07

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Alassane Ouattara dismissed calls for negotiations and said Gbagbo did not have to go into exile if he stepped aside. He also dismissed fears that military intervention could lead to a civil war.

In his first televised interview since the current post-electoral crisis broke out in Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara told FRANCE 24 on Wednesday that his presidential rival Laurent Gbagbo must cede power and if he did so, Ouattara would not force the Ivorian strongman into exile.

Furthermore, while Gbagbo has repeatedly warned that international military intervention in Ivory Coast could destabilise the region, Ouattara dismissed these fears.

Alassane Ouattara - Portrait

Ivory Coast will not 'ignite'

“Military intervention does not mean that the Ivory Coast will ignite,” said Ouattara, before adding: “All that needs to be done, as has been done in other African countries, is to come and get Gbagbo and remove him from the presidential palace.”

Speaking to FRANCE 24 from the Golf Hotel, a lagoon-side resort in the main Ivorian city of Abidjan that has become his government’s headquarters, Ouattara underlined however that he preferred a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Ouattara also dismissed any suggestion of trying to negotiate a power sharing deal with Gbagbo, maintaining that the incumbent’s recent negotiation offers were simply gimmicks to buy time.

'Gbagbo is trying to win time to recruit mercenaries'

“Laurent Gbagbo is trying to win time to recruit mercenaries and transfer suitcases full of money out of the country,” said Ouattara.

The international community has repeatedly called on Gbagbo to respect the outcome of the November 28 election and cede power to Ouattara. African leaders attempting to negotiate a solution to the power crisis have suggested sending the longstanding African leader into exile.

But in his interview with FRANCE 24, Ouattara said he would not force his arch rival to leave the country if Gbagbo's wish was to stay.

“I will welcome him to establish the terms of his stay in the Ivory Coast – or outside the country,” said Ouattara. “He’s at liberty to go or stay on Ivorian territory.”

On Christmas Eve, the West African regional grouping ECOWAS adopted a resolution threatening the use of military force if Gbagbo refused to accept the results of the November 28 polls. While both men claim to have won the runoff vote and have appointed their respective administrations, the international community has recognised Ouattara as the legitimate winner.

Gbagbo has accused the UN mission and a French military force in Ivory Coast of being involved in a campaign to topple him and interfere in Ivorian affairs.

DOES ECOWAS REALLY WANT TO SEND ITS TROOPS IN?

Date created : 2011-01-05

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