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Aided by locksmith, Ouattara's new envoy moves into Ivorian embassy in Paris

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-01-25

Aided by a locksmith, the man chosen by the internationally recognised Ivorian leader to serve as ambassador to Paris forcibly moved into Ivory Coast's embassy on Tuesday. Ally Coulibaly then flashed the victory sign from the balcony.

The man chosen by internationally recognised Ivorian leader Alassane Ouattara to serve as the Ivory Coast's ambassador to Paris, Ally Coulibaly, had to enlist the aid of a locksmith to move into his country’s embassy in the French capital on Tuesday.

Couliably has accused his predecessor, Pierre Kipré – who was named by the incumbent president, Ouattara's rival Laurent Gbagbo – of refusing to give up his post, although he has vacated the embassy. Coulibaly “entered the premises on Avenue Raymond-Poincaré [in Paris’ 16th district] by breaking down the door and the locks,” according to FRANCE 24 journalist Alexandra Renard.

“Ally Coulibaly arrived around noon, surrounded by about fifty supporters who were yelling and singing,” Renard said. Riot police standing only metres away “reacted very gently”, she said. “They let the crowd move into the premises and set up.”

Coulibaly then appeared on the balcony of the building, making a two-fingered victory sign. Only minutes later, Ouattara supporters made their way to the embassy’s annex on nearby Boulevard Suchet, where the scene was repeated. “They broke in, but no one was there and the lights were off,” Renard said of the scene.

Ouattara supporters then left the embassy for the residence of Gbagbo’s former ambassador Kipré, located in the Hotel Masseran in the 15th district of Paris, but they were unable to enter the building because security blocked access. Ouattara's supporters left, but pledged to come back on Friday to ensure Kipré’s departure.

Violent clash at Ivorian embassy

Earlier that morning, a violent confrontation had broken out between a man accused of being pro-Gbagbo and the largely pro-Ouattara crowd in front of the Ivorian embassy. “They beat me up, they broke my glasses!” the man told Renard. “These are killers, I tell you! Ivory Coast can’t be run like that, in disorder!” The man said he was a member of the Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire, which supported Ouattara’s candidacy in the second round vote on November 28.

Since French authorities accredited Coulibaly as the new Ivorian ambassador to Paris on January 20, tension has spiked between France and Gbagbo’s camp. Gbagbo, in turn, announced that France’s ambassador to Ivory Coast, Jean-Marc Simon, would have his accreditation revoked. French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie called Gbagbo’s announcement “devoid of any legal value”.

Gbagbo has rejected weeks of calls from the international community to step down after the UN-certified second-round vote result showed presidential rival Ouattara as the winner.

Date created : 2011-01-25

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