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Sarkozy calls for Gbagbo to quit by end week

By Agence France-Presse

BRUSSELS, December 17, 2010 (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday called for incumbent Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo to quit office by the end of the week to avoid sanctions. Failing departure, he and his wife Simone would be added to a list of Ivorians being targeted by European Union sanctions, the French head of state said at an EU summit.

"Laurent Gbagbo and his wife hold their destinies in their hands. If, by the end of the week, he, Laurent Gbagbo -- and his wife -- has not left the post he is occupying in violation of the will of the Ivorian people, they will be added by name on the list of sanctions," Sarkozy said at the close of a two-day summit.
Gbagbo has refused to leave office since being defeated for the presidency by rival Alassane Ouattara in a November 28 poll. Ouattara's victory has been recognised by the international community -- including the African Union and the United Nations Security Council.

"What is happening in Ivory Coast is perfectly inadmissible," Sarkozy added.

"Elections have taken place under the control of the United Nations, they were validated by the United Nations. And even better all the African nations have recognised Alassane Ouattara's election," he said.

The EU this week threatened to slap an assets freeze and visa ban on Gbagbo cronies, with a list of 18 names to be considered at meetings in Brussels on Monday.

Eleven of the 18 on the list obtained by AFP are close staff, military chiefs or the heads of the West African nation's controversial media. Diplomatic sources said EU states had been discussing whether or not to add Gbagbo's name to the list, with France notably opposed in order to keep an avenue open to wield pressure against the defeated Ivorian leader.

Sarkozy said that after sitting in office for a decade without holding an election "Gbagbo is clinging onto power, his supporters are firing, there were people killed in the streets of Abidjan. It's a scandal."

"There is no other possibility than for Gbagbo to leave as soon as possible an office he usurped," Sarkozy said. © 1994-2010 Agence France-Presse
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