Ivory Coast expels British, Canadian ambassadors

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo in 2007
Image: VOA News.

The incumbent leader of the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, is expelling the Canadian and British ambassadors, according to state television.

State television reports the envoys are being expelled as a reciprocal measure, as the respective countries did not recognise Gbagbo's leadership. This is following his decision not to step down despite international recognition of rival Alassane Ouattara winning the November 2010 presidential election. Canada withdrew recognition of Louis L.B. Bony — Gbagbo's ambassador to Canada — on December 29, with the United Kingdom following suit on December 31. In addition, France, the former colonial power of the Ivory Coast, has stated that it will recognise Ouattara's appointee, as has the United Nations.

Although the ambassadors have been expelled, their diplomatic privileges will not be revoked until such time as they leave the Ivory Coast.

Outtara, who won 54% of the vote, which was backed by the United Nations and the country's Electoral Commission, remains under protection by UN peacekeepers, in a hotel in the main city and former capital of Abidjan.

The Foreign Office of the United Kingdom issued a travel warning in force for the Ivory Coast last month, advising British nationals to "leave by commercial means, if safe to do so", due to the threat of "widespread instability in Abidjan and other major cities. The Foreign Office [of the UK] continues to advise against all travel to Cote d'Ivoire".

In a separate incident, the United States announced that US citizens were to be barred from dealing financially with Gbagbo, and that the assets of Gbagbo, his wife and three aides, had been frozen. Gbagbo retains control of the state army and media.


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