PM calls for force to oust Gbagbo


UN forces patrol a street, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (AP)

A top opposition figure has urged the international community to use force to oust Laurent Gbagbo from Ivory Coast’s presidency after the disputed election.

Meanwhile, France has urged its citizens to get out of the West African nation amid growing fears of civil war.

The United Nations and other world leaders recognise Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the November 28 run-off vote. His prime minister, Guillaume Soro, urged the UN, European Union, African Union and others to consider intervening to push Mr Gbagbo out.

“It is obvious that there is one solution left – that of force,” Mr Soro told France’s i-tele television channel. He added that “200 people have been killed by the bullets of Liberian and Angolan mercenaries” in Ivory Coast but he did not elaborate and the numbers could not immediately be confirmed.

The UN said on Sunday that at least 50 people had been killed in Ivory Coast in recent days and the UN chief has also expressed concern about the recruitment of fighters from neighbouring Liberia.

But there appears to be little international interest in a military intervention. The United States and the EU are imposing sanctions targeting Mr Gbagbo, his wife and political allies and hundreds of UN peacekeepers have been protecting the hotel where Mr Ouattara is based.

Over the weekend Mr Gbagbo ordered all UN peacekeepers out of the country immediately in an escalation of tensions. But The UN considers Mr Ouattara president and is staying put, raising fears that UN staff and other foreigners could be targeted as tensions mount.

The US State Department has already ordered most of its staff to leave because of what officials called a deteriorating security situation and growing anti-Western sentiment. Germany has also recommended that its nationals leave.

At least 13,000 French people are currently believed to be in Ivory Coast, which maintains close ties to France and was once the crown jewel of its former West African colonial empire.

After a meeting in Paris with French president Nicolas Sarkozy, World Bank chief Robert Zoellick said loans had been halted to Ivory Coast. The World Bank’s aid commitment was £547 million as of January, according to the bank’s website.

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