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World

UN slaps sanctions on Ivory Coast leader Gbagbo

The United Nations Security Council has imposed travel bans and asset freezes on incumbent Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo and his associates in an effort to force him to cede power to rival Alassane Ouattara.

Laurent Gbagbo

Gbagbo postponed a planned address to the nation Wednesday night

The UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution aimed at forcing out incumbent Ivorian leader Lauren Gbagbo by imposing sanctions on him and his closest associates.

The resolution, which was drafted by France and Nigeria, was passed after forces loyal to rival Alassane Ouattara, captured the capital Yamoussoukro and entered the port town of San Pedro, the world's largest hub for the export of cocoa. Ivory Coast is the world's largest cocoa producer.

Ouattara is widely recognized as the winner of last November's presidential elections, but Gbagbo has been clinging to power, resulting in months of fighting that has left at least 460 people dead and around one million displaced.

The EU and the US have already imposed sanctions on Gbagbo and his associates.

'Die is cast'

France's ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, warned that the situation in Ivory Coast was "worsening by the hour," and that "this resolution is maybe the last message we wanted to send to Gbagbo, which is very simple: Gbagbo must go."

Ivorians gather at a bus station to depart from Abidjan

Up to a million Ivorians have fled their homes

His Nigerian counterpart, Joy Ogwu echoed that view. "In my view, the die is cast by this resolution," she told journalists.

The resolution also reaffirmed that the 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast, known as UNOCI, should protect civilians, but did not go so far as to endorse the use of force unless there was an immediate threat of physical violence.

A failed coup against Gbagbo nine years ago left pro-Ouattara rebels in control of the north of the country and Gbagbo in charge of the south.

In the past three days, Ouattara's fighters have rapidly moved south of a cease-fire line that has split the country in two since 2002.

Author: Nicole Goebel (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner

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