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US Freezes Assets of Ivory Coast's Gbagbo


United Nations troops from Niger drive past a billboard of Ivory Coast's internationally recognized elected leader Alassane Ouattara during a patrol in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 4 Jan 2011

United Nations troops from Niger drive past a billboard of Ivory Coast's internationally recognized elected leader Alassane Ouattara during a patrol in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 4 Jan 2011

The United States has frozen the assets of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down following the country's presidential run-off election in November.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday said Mr. Gbagbo's unwillingness to accept the official election results has created a crisis in Ivory Coast, where 210 people have been killed in post-election violence.

A Treasury Department official, Adam Szubin, said Mr. Gbagbo continues to demonstrate "wanton disregard" for the will and well being of the Ivorian people.

The United Nations, the United States, the African Union and other world powers recognize Mr. Gbagbo's rival, Alassane Ouattara, as the winner of the election. The West African bloc ECOWAS has threatened military action if Mr. Gbagbo refuses to step down.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday also froze the assets of Mr. Gbagbo's wife and some of his close associates.

A special adviser to Mr. Gbagbo, Ambassador Yao Gnamien says the freezing of those assets will not help resolve the political crisis.

In another development, Mr. Gbagbo's government said that it is expelling the British and Canadian ambassadors after those two countries said they no longer accepted Mr. Gbagbo's envoys.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gbagbo rejected the United Nations' call for as many as 2,000 more peacekeepers in Ivory Coast to calm the post-election turmoil stemming from Mr. Gbagbo's refusal to yield power.

Mr. Gbagbo's foreign minister, Alcide Djedje, said the nearly 10,000 peacekeepers should leave because they are violating the country's political neutrality.

Ivory Coast's internationally recognized president, Mr. Ouattara, reiterated his call Thursday to remove Mr. Gbagbo, saying special operations forces should take him out of office in a commando operation. Mr. Ouattara accuses Mr. Gbagbo of instigating violence following the November run-off.


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