EU orders Gbagbo to quit by weekend

Brussels, Belgium (PANA) – French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday asked incumbent Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo to relinquish power before the end of this week warning that sanctions would be applied if he failed to comply.

President Sarkozy gave the ultimatum at the end of the summit of the European Union heads of State and government held in Brussels.

“If he (Gbagbo) does not leave power in violation of the will expressed clearly by Ivorian people, sanctions will be imposed on him,” French president said.

He said Gbagbo would be indicted by international courts if he insisted on his position to remain in power by force, especially as some 20 demonstrators supporting Alassane Ouattara, the rival candidate, were killed on Thursday by the security forces.

At the request of Paris, Gbagbo has again been put on the list of Ivorian leaders targeted by the sanctions imposed by EU, which includes a visa ban to Europe and the freezing of their assets in Europe.

Top European diplomats will meet in Brussels to decide on the attitude to adopt towards the regime of Laurent Gbagbo.

To the question whether France has taken measures to evacuate its nationals from Cote d'Ivoire, President Sarkozy said that security measures had been taken in this respect, but the major concern is that the will expressed by the majority of Ivorians be respected by Gbagbo who must leave office before Sunday.

Meanwhile, Gbagbo on Friday received the chairman of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, who has arrived in the troubled West African country to assess the political situation triggered by the controversial 28 November presidential run-off election.

Mr Ping, who arrived in the Ivorian economic capital, Abidjan, on Friday has also held talks with the special representative of the UN secretary-general in Ivory Coast, Young Jin Choi.

The Ivorian political crisis was exacerbated by clashes on Thursday in Abidjan between supporters of the internationally acclaimed winner of the election, Alassane Ouattara, and the state security forces, which left at least 20 people dead and many injured.

Cote d'Ivoire has been plunged into a deep political crisis following the declaration of the two candidates winners by two separate bodies.

Whereas the Independent Electoral Commission gave victory to Ouattara, the Constitutional Council quashed that verdict and declared Gbagbo winner after invalidating hundreds of thousands of votes in Ouatrtara's northern stronghold.

The Economic Community of West African States, African Union, European Union and United Nations have asked Gbagbo to relinquish power.
-0- PANA AK/TBM/SOC/MSA/MA 17Dec2010

17 december 2010 22:21:20




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