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Ivory Coast's Ouattara calls for end to EU sanctions

Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of last year's elections in Ivory Coast, has called for an end to EU sanctions on his country. Incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo still refuses to cede power.

ouattara soldiers

Pro-Ouattara fighters are keen to catch Gbagbo

Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of last year's presidential elections in Ivory Coast, has called on the European Union to lift sanctions against Ivory Coast in an effort to return the country to normalcy.

The cocoa-exporting nation has had many ports blocked by sanctions, which have affected the banking sector as well.

Ouattara also said he would try and get the country's water and electricity network back online. Ivory Coast's infrastructure has been damaged as fighting between Ouattara's forces and troops loyal to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo continue.

"These immediate priority decisions aim to secure the population and target the gradual recovery of economic activities," he said in a televised address Thursday night.

A spokesman for Gbagbo said Thursday that the Ivorian strongman would neither surrender nor cede power to Ouattara.

Toussaint Alain said he had spoken with Gbagbo, who has been holed up in his presidential bunker with the remnants of his followers for the past two days.

France, whose troops joined forces with UN peacekeepers in the attacks on Gbagbo's stronghold, said UN troops had surrounded what was left of Gbagbo's fighting force in a "limited area."

Negotiations break down

This comes after protracted negotiations to persuade Gbagbo to leave broke down.

"The negotiations which were carried out for hours yesterday between the entourage of Laurent Gbagbo and Ivorian authorities have failed because of Gbagbo's intransigence," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told parliament in Paris.

He had earlier said Gbagbo had "no future" and that it was "absurd" for him to hang on. As the former colonial power in Ivory Coast, France has taken a leading role in talks to persuade Gbagbo to hand over to his rival Alassane Ouattara and end the four-month standoff over November's contested elections.

The international community says Ouattara won the election but Gbagbo insists he was the victor and he refuses to sign a document recognizing Ouattara's victory.

Author: Rob Mudge, Matt Zuvela (Reuters, AP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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