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Pressure Mounts on Ivory Coast President to Step Down

Top U.N. envoy in Ivory Coast announced that Ouattara had won the disputed presidential election by an 'irrefutable margin.' The international community stepped up pressure on incumbent Laurent Opposition leader Gbagbo to concede defeat, 8 Dec 10.

In Ivory Coast, the government of internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, says it will take control of state institutions by the end of the week if incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, who also claimed victory in last month's election, continues to refuse to step down.

Pressure is mounting for Ivory Coast's incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to cede power to president-elect Alassane Ouattara, who was recognized by the United Nations as the winner of last month's presidential poll.

Amnesty International says security forces have killed more than 20 people since the November 28 presidential run-off. There are concerns the political stand-off could plunge the country back into civil war.

Soro says his government will march to the state television station, which is currently controlled by Mr. Gbabgo, to put in place a new general director. He says on Friday his Cabinet will meet in the official prime minister's office.

There was no immediate response from Mr. Gbagbo to this announcement.

Mr. Ouattara's prime minister, Guillaume Soro, said Monday his government cannot remain indifferent to growing insecurity and, what he called, the country's "catastrophic" financial situation.

Mr. Ouattara has requested that the West African Central Bank block Mr. Gbagbo's access to funds. The Central Bank groups eight former French colonies using the CFA franc as currency. An official at the Dakar-based bank declined to comment Tuesday on whether officials would discuss Mr. Ouattara's request at a planned meeting Wednesday in the Togolose capital, Lome.

Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Ouattara have set up rival governments and have the support of rival armed forces. Mr. Gbagbo is supported by senior military officers who control southern regions, Mr. Ouattara by former rebels who control northern regions.

Soro now heads Mr. Ouattara's government, which is based in an Abidjan hotel guarded by U.N. peacekeepers and former rebel fighters.

Tensions rose Monday in Abidjan when troops loyal to Mr. Gbagbo set up roadblocks a few hundred meters from the hotel housing Mr. Ouattara, barring access for most of the day. Sources say the U.N. envoy to Ivory Coast was able to defuse the situation.

The European Union has ramped up international pressure Monday by approving financial and travel sanctions on Mr. Gbagbo and his allies if he continues to cling to power. ECOWAS and the African Union have suspended Ivory Coast, and countries like France and the United States continue to call on Mr. Gbagbo to resign.

Mr. Gbagbo dismisses international support for Mr. Ouattara as foreign interference that threatens Ivory Coast's sovereignty.

Mr. Gbagbo says he is the president because Ivory Coast's constitutional council, which is led by a Gbagbo ally, annulled nearly 10 percent of all ballots cast as fraudulent, giving him 51 percent of the vote. But the United Nations certified the original electoral commission results that show Mr. Ouattara winning 54 percent of the vote.