France urges its citizens to leave Ivory Coast | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 31.12.2010
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France urges its citizens to leave Ivory Coast

Fearing that violence could break out due to a political standoff, the French government has urged its citizens to temporarily leave Ivory Coast. Families with children in particular are encouraged to quit the country.

UN troops

UN troops are guarding Ouattara's hotel

The French Foreign Ministry has urged its citizens living in Ivory Coast to temporarily leave the country as the threat of violence due to the country's political crisis continues.

"Although foreign nationals are not at present threatened, the French authorities renew their advice ... to all French citizens who can, in particular families with children, to temporarily leave Ivory Coast," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Tension in Ivory Coast has been high in the weeks following the country's presidential election on November 28. Although Alassane Ouattara is widely recognized internationally as the winner of the election, incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refuses to give up power.

A delegation from the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) that traveled to Ivory Coast on Tuesday was unsuccessful in its attempt to persuade Gbagbo to step now. Prior to the visit of the presidents of three ECOWAS nations, the West African bloc had indicated that it would use military force if necessary.

International support

On Friday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in an interview with BBC that Gbagbo should not underestimate the determination of the international community, and that the UK would be supportive of a military intervention that was sanctioned by the United Nations.

Laurent Gbagbo

Gbagbo refuses to step down

This did not mean he was suggesting that British troops would be sent to help, Hague said.

The United Nations has peacekeeping troops stationed at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, which is housing Ouattara's government.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement on Thursday warning against attacks on the peacekeepers, and that UN forces were authorized to use " all necessary means to protect its personnel, as well as the government officials and other civilians at these premises of the hotel."

The UN reports that at least 173 people have been killed in post-election violence.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP, AP, Reuters)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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