The Senegalese leader on Saturday said French troops - mandated by the United Nations to help separate warring government and rebel sides - should stay until the Ivory Coast had an elected government.

"I believe it would be wise if France could pursue its mission in Ivory Coast," Wade said.

"As far as Ivory Coast is concerned I think that French troops should stay there until political power has been established through elections in which Ivorians choose their true representative," he said.

Senegalese role

Senegal is overseeing west African peacekeeping forces in the Ivory Coast and has a large number of troops deployed in the country.

Violence has swept Ivory Coast
in recent days

In an interview published on Saturday, Wade said France's military presence was an indispensable factor in preventing massacres in the West African nation.

That presence has been violently challenged in the past week by supporters of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo after France retaliated for the killing of nine of its soldiers by carrying out air strikes obliterating Ivory Coast's fledgling air force.

Wade said the pacts establishing a French military presence in several African countries had been freely agreed to by independent countries, and to break them would risk undermining societies.
  
"I'm convinced that if the Ivorian authorities asked the French to leave, the French would leave without problems. So there is no need for violence."
  
He said that French troops had been fired upon "when they came to help restore peace, and attacking French people at their homes is absolutely inadmissible and unacceptable".