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Pressure mounts against Côte d'Ivoire "coup"
In an extraordinary meeting of state leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, Nigeria, today, outgoing President Gbagbo was ordered to "abide by the results of the second round of presidential elections, which gave the victory to Mr Ouattara, "and to yield power without delay, in the best interest of the Ivorian people."
Previously, several African governments had already condemned the "coup" by outgoing President Gbagbo. For example, the Botswana presidency already on Sunday issued a statement "congratulating Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the presidential elections of Côte d'Ivoire." The government of Botswana was "deeply concerned about African leaders who reject election results that are not in their favour," the statement added.
But also outside Africa, pressure against defeated President Gbagbo is increasing. US President Barrack Obama today urged President Gbagbo to step down, saying that otherwise, Côte d'Ivoire could not count on US support. He had told this to Mr Gbagbo in a letter to the Ivorian leader.
Also the European Union (EU), Côte d'Ivoire's main cooperation partner, warned Mr Gbagbo of consequences should he not step down. EU "Foreign Minister" Catherine Ashton warned the block could development aid estimated at euro 255 million and impose sanctions against the Ivorian government.
Meanwhile, the UN - which has around 9,000 peacekeepers stationed in Côte d'Ivoire - today gave its full support to Mr Ouattara's election victory. "The Ivorian people have chosen Mr Alassane Ouattara with an irrefutable margin as the winner over Mr. Laurent Gbagbo," the UN Representative in the country, Young-Jin Choi told a news conference in Abidjan.
The UN representative further publicly rebutted Mr Gbagbo's claims of irregularities point by point, noting that even if contested tally sheets were thrown out, it was still "clear that Mr Ouattara had won."
At UN Headquarters in New York it was yesterday reported that the world body was to "step up diplomacy in support of" Mr Ouattara. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon fully supported statements by his representative, Mr Choi, and backed the pro-Ouattara campaign.
By staff writers
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