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Ivory Coast’s turmoil

By on December 18, 2010

Armand Djoualeu

African nations have promised Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo a “soft landing” in exile. International pressure is growing on Ivory Coast incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to cede power to his opponent Alassane Ouattara. The United Nations, Washington, African states and others say the election on 28 November was won by Mr Ouattara.

European Union leaders on Friday also called on Ivory Coast’s army to defect from Gbagbo to Ouattara, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy says Mr Gbagbo must stand down by “the end of the week” or face EU sanctions.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called for African nations to remove Mr Gbagbo by force if necessary. “Mr Gbagbo must be forced, even if it means using military means to get rid of him, because now he is just relying on military power, not the people’s power, to intimidate the people,” Mr Odinga told a news conference in Nairobi.

Rebels loyal to Ouattara exchanged fire with the army in Abidjan and elsewhere on Thursday while protests in Abidjan left at least 20 dead. Ouattara supporters seeking to seize the state broadcaster RTI on Thursday.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR is making contingency plans for an outflow of refugees. More than 4,000 people have already fled to neighbouring Liberia.
A possible stumbling block to Gbagbo leaving is fear of prosecution facing him and loyalists for past violence, notably attacks by his supporters on Ivory Coast’s French community in 2004, and death squad killings of opposition activists.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague, whose prosecutor this week named six suspects accused of being behind post-election violence in Kenya, has warned all actors in Ivory Coast’s conflict that they will be prosecuted for any abuses.

In Washington, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said a combined delegation from the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) would be in Abidjan soon “to continue to encourage President Gbagbo to step aside”.

About Armand Djoualeu

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