Ban on Ivory Coast cocoa urged

Ban on Ivory Coast cocoa urged

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Supporters of Ivory Coast's incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo demonstrate in Paris (AP)

The man internationally recognised as the winner of Ivory Coast’s presidential election has called for a ban on cocoa exports to hit the finances of the country’s former leader who refuses to quit.

Cocoa is one of the country’s main exports and is a major source of wealth for incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo.

Election winner Alassane Ouattara called for the ban to run for a month.

“The government informs all the economic operators of the immediate halt to all coffee and cocoa exports,” his office said, adding that anyone who did not follow the order would be “subject to national and international sanctions”.

Mr Gbagbo lost a key ally on Saturday when the president of the regional central bank resigned under pressure amid accusations that he was funnelling funds to him despite a bank order to cut him off from state coffers.

It remains unclear whether Mr Gbagbo will be able to pay state salaries, due this week.

Mr Gbagbo’s government has already tried to order UN peacekeepers out of the country, claiming that they are no longer impartial after the UN certified election results showing Mr Ouattara won the November 28 presidential run off vote.

The UN Security Council voted on Wednesday to send an additional 2,000 troops.

The West African bloc of countries known as ECOWAS has threatened to remove Mr Gbagbo by force if negotiations fail, but has set no deadline.

Ivory Coast was divided into a rebel-controlled north and a loyalist south by a 2002-2003 civil war. The country was officially reunited in a 2007 peace deal, but the long-delayed presidential election was intended to help reunify the nation. But at least 260 people have been killed in violence since the vote.

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