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EU Considers Sanctions on Ivory Coast Politicians


Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone during the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan (File)

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone during the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan (File)

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife are among 19 people to face European Union sanctions as the leadership crisis in the West African country continues.

At a Brussels press briefing, a spokeswoman said the European Union had finalized a list of Ivorians who face travel bans and other sanctions by the 27-member bloc.

She said Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone are among 19 people on the list. The European Union is expected to officially approve the sanctions list later this week.

Mr. Gbagbo and his entourage remain defiant, refusing to cede power following presidential elections last month. The United Nations and many foreign powers judge his rival Alassane Ouattara to be the winner.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for Mr. Gbagbo to step down by the end of this past week or face sanctions. On Saturday, Mr. Gbagbo demanded French and U.N peacekeeping forces leave the country - a call rejected by both parties.

In an interview with French media, France's Foreign Minister Michelle Aliot-Marie said Mr. Gbagbo had lost his mandate to make such demands.

Ms. Aliot-Marie said France's 900 Licorne peacekeepers would not get involved in the Ivorian conflict, but they would defend themselves if attacked.

Like the European Union, the United States and Canada are also considering sanctions against Ivory Coast. Analyst Philippe Moreau Defarges, of the Paris-based French Institute for International Relations, says sanctions will have a limited effect.

"I do not think it will make a major difference but it is symbolic. It shows it is clear, Mr. Gbagbo must leave," said Defarges. "He has lost the election. And in fact nobody [in the international community] wants to intervene directly or militarily."

The Ivorian conflict spilled over into former colonial power France, with clashes Sunday between Gbagbo and Ouattara supporters in Paris. In New York, the U.N. Security Council is to meet Monday to discuss the situation in Ivory Coast and the question of renewing the mandate of its peacekeeping force, which expires December 31.

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