Gbagbo told in no un­cer­tain terms to quit

Ivory Coast’s po­lit­i­cal stale­mate angers the US, EU and Kenya as clashes kill up to 30 peo­ple

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

ABID­JAN: Po­lice were out in force here yes­ter­day as sup­port­ers of the in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised win­ner of Ivory Coast’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion vowed to try once again to seize state in­sti­tu­tions af­ter a sim­i­lar at­tempt the day be­fore re­sulted in up to 30 deaths.

The streets of Abid­jan were nearly de­serted yes­ter­day.

Civil war threat­ens to reignite in this nation that was once an eco­nomic hub of west Africa, with the in­cum­bent pres­i­dent, Lau­rent Gbagbo, and op­po­si­tion can­di­date Alas­sane Ou­at­tara both claim­ing vic­tory in last month’s poll. The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity said Ou­at­tara won, but Gbagbo has re­fused to step down.

In the Ad­jame area, a neigh­bour­hood of Ou­at­tara sup­port­ers, Gbagbo’s sol­diers pa­trolled and fired in the air yes­ter­day. Burn­ing tyres were placed in roads.

Troops loyal to Gbagbo and forces back­ing Ou­at­tara en­gaged in clashes on Thurs­day in Abid­jan. Clashes also oc­curred in the cap­i­tal, Ya­mous­soukro, and in the north­ern town of Bouake and the cen­tral town of Tiebis­sou, said Traore Drissa, a lawyer who runs the Abid­jan-based Ivo­rian Move­ment for Hu­man Rights.

Ou­at­tara’s sup­port­ers were to march on govern­ment build­ings and hold a cabi­net meet­ing, said Guil­laume Soro, whom Ou­at­tara named as his prime min­is­ter.

“It is sad that in 2010 in our coun­try it’s not enough to win an elec­tion,” Soro said. “Even when you win this elec­tion, you are still obliged to con­front tanks to gov­ern. “This is un­ac­cept­able.” On Thurs­day, Ou­at­tara’s sup­port­ers tried to seize con­trol of the state tele­vi­sion build­ing.

They did not get close to it, as it was heav­ily pro­tected by Gbagbo’s troops. Po­lice and sol­diers sealed off streets around it with road­blocks and ar­moured per­son­nel car­ri­ers.

Ou­at­tara’s camp said 30 peo­ple died. Gbagbo’s peo­ple said 20 died, in­clud­ing 10 po­lice of­fi­cers, were killed by pro­test­ers.

Many hoped the elec­tions in the world’s top co­coa pro­ducer would re­unite the nation fol­low­ing a 2002-2003 war that split it in two.

Ohoupa Sesseg­non, a spokesman for Gbagbo’s party, ac­cused Gbagbo’s op­po­nents and France of be­ing be­hind T hursday’s vi­o­lence.

Dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in South Africa yes­ter­day, Sesseg­non claimed French sol­diers in­fil­trated the ranks of Ivo­rian sol­diers and posed as civil­ians dur­ing the protest to en­sure it was vi­o­lent.

‘It is sad that in 2010 in our coun­try it’s not enough to win an elec­tion’

Sesseg­non, an Ivo­rian, chairs the South African-Ivo­rian cham­ber of com­merce and is spokesman for the lo­cal chap­ter of Gbagbo’s party. He said he called a news con­fer­ence in Jo­han­nes­burg to try to rally other Africans to op­pose what he claimed was a French plot to top­ple Gbagbo.

He said Gbagbo has an­gered France by seek­ing trad­ing part­ners other than France.

Sesseg­non also ac­cused France of lob­by­ing other Western pow­ers to op­pose Gbagbo, and re­jected a call from Washington for Gbagbo to step down.

In Washington, a se­nior Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said the US and other na­tions told Gbagbo to step down and leave the coun­try within days or face travel and fi­nan­cial sanc­tions.

The Euro­pean Union is giv­ing Gbagbo un­til the week­end to leave the pres­i­dency or face EU sanc­tions and pos­si­bly pros­e­cu­tion by the In­ter na­tional Court of Jus­tice.

French Pres­i­dent Nicolas Sarkozy said yes­ter­day all EU na­tions unan­i­mously want Gbagbo to leave of­fice in the for mer French colony, or Gbagbo and his wife will face an as­sets freeze and visa ban.

He said Gbagbo was re­spon­si­ble for turn­ing one of Africa’s most sta­ble na­tions into one where in­no­cent peo­ple are shot in the streets by his sup­port­ers. There were in­ter na­tional courts to deal with such crimes.

Kenya’s prime min­is­ter yes­ter­day sharply crit­i­cised Gbagbo for il­le­git­i­mately hang­ing on to power and urged him to step aside. – Sapa-AP

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

UN sol­diers pa­trol a street in Abid­jan yes­ter­day.

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