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Ivorian Diplomat Urges World to “Listen” to President’s Concerns

  • Peter Clottey

Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, center, gestures during a photo opportunity with his newly-named cabinet, with Prime Minister N'Gbo Gilbert Marie Ake, front left, at the presidency in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Dec 7, 2010

Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, center, gestures during a photo opportunity with his newly-named cabinet, with Prime Minister N'Gbo Gilbert Marie Ake, front left, at the presidency in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Dec 7, 2010

A special advisor to embattled Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo told VOA there have been several indications the international community is interfering in Ivory Coast’s internal affairs, following the disputed 28th November presidential run-off vote.

Ambassador Yao Gnamien accused the international community, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of failing to “carefully listen” to Mr. Gbagbo’s concerns following the results of last month’s election.

Mr. Gbagbo told a state newspaper Friday that he wants to “sit down and talk” with his political rival about the situation. But, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara said Saturday that Mr. Gbagbo must first accept that he lost the election.

Supporters of Mr. Ouattara demanded Mr. Gbagbo resign before any negotiations to resolve the ongoing political impasse. But, this was rejected by Gbagbo aides.

“If we want to have good negotiations, nobody can say that President Gbagbo must resign because President Gbagbo has been declared president of Cote d’Ivoire by our Constitutional Court, which is really the same case in most of the African countries, (and) even in most developed countries. So, the main thing we have to follow is the rule of law,” said Ambassador Gnamien.

Earlier, an aide to Mr. Gbagbo said western envoys are trying to sway the army to support Mr. Ouattara. Interior minister Emile Guirieoulou said western envoys in Abidjan have approached senior Ivorian army officers with the goal of finding soldiers and police to back Mr. Ouattara.

Guirieoulou said Mr. Gbagbo's government “will not tolerate meddling” by outsiders in Ivory Coast's internal affairs.

Ambassador Gnamien said it is wrong for the international community to infringe on what he described as Ivory Coast’s sovereignty.

“When you have a dispute, first of all you have to listen to the two parties. We feel that the international community did not do it. They just took the version of the supporters of former Prime Minister Ouattara and they made their decision. What we are asking for is that (they) will listen to both parties so that we can make the final decision at the level of the international community,” said Ambassador Gnamien.

“If the international community wants to take its responsibility, it has to analyze the two points of view and to see which point of view is supported by the national law, by the constitution of Ivory Coast.”

Meanwhile, President Gbagbo is facing increasing international pressure to hand over power.

The U.N. Security Council, African Union, and Economic Community of West African States have all said Mr. Ouattara won last month's election. The United States has threatened sanctions against Mr. Gbagbo and his close supporters.

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