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Africa
Kenya warns Cote d'Ivoire leader
Kenyan PM calls on African nations to oust Ivorian incumbent president Gbagbo if he refuses to step down.
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2010 10:01 GMT

International pressure has been mounting on Laurent Gbagbo, Cote d'Ivoire's incumbent president, to step down, with Kenya saying he should now be forced out of office.

Raila Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister, on Friday called for African nations to oust Gbagbo by force if necessary.

"Mr Gbagbo must be forced even if it means using military means to get rid of him because now he is just relying on military power, not the people's power, to intimidate the people," Odinga told a news conference in Nairobi.
 
"The African Union should develop teeth."

Cote d'Ivoire was thrown into crisis after its November 28 presidential runoff, with both candidates claiming victory. Alassane Ouattara has been recognised by the international community as the winner and has formed a parallel government holed up in an Abidjan hotel.

France has issued a weekend deadline for Gbagbo to surrender his presidential post or face international sanctions and Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has called on the incumbent to step aside for Ouattara.

The United States has said it is ready to impose travel sanctions on Gbagbo, his inner circle and their families within days, while at least one African nation is said to have offered him exile.

"There is at least one African offer of a soft landing, but it is up to him to take it," William Fitzgerald, the state department official in charge of West African affairs, told the Reuters news agency in an interview.

'Little effect'

But Al Jazeera's Ama Boateng, reporting from Abidjan, said that Gbagbo has "heard these threats before".

"We've heard them from the African Union, we've heard them from the United Nations, we've heard them from pretty much every international voice," Boateng said. "And so far, that has had very, very little effect."

A spokesman for Gbagbo told the Reuters news agency that the presidential claimant would not step down after being handed the runoff victory after the constitutional council annulled hundreds of thousands of votes in pro-Ouattara areas.

"President Gbagbo is going nowhere. He was elected for five years and he will only leave power in 2015," Alain Toussaint said in London.

"France, the United States, the EU want to carry out a plot, a constitutional coup d'etat, and we say 'No' ... we can't allow foreign governments to interfere in our affairs."

The election has been followed by violent protests in Abidjan and other cities. Ouattara's camp said 30 people died in clashes on Thursday while Gbagbo's spokeswoman said 20 died, including 10 police officers killed by protesters.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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