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Côte d'Ivoire

AU chair calls for Gbagbo to step down

Reuters / Irada Humbatova

African Union chairman and Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika have called on Côte d'Ivoire leader Laurent Gbagbo  to "respect the will of the people" and stand down. Mutharika said he was "saddened" that Gbagbo was sworn in as president of Côte d'Ivoire even though results from the 28 November poll showed that opposition leader Alassane Ouattara had won the elections.

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"Mr Ouattara is the winner of the election," said Mutharika in a statement. "President Gbagbo should respect the will of the people through the ballot and therefore needs to stand down to avoid another bloodshed in Africa over power," he added.

Mutharika said he agreed with the 15-member regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) who suspended Côte d'Ivoire on Tuesday and called for Gbagbo to yield power.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy applauded the group's decision as "courageous" and "historic".

Despite calls and pressure from international observers for Gbagbo to step down, he remains installed in the presidential mansion.

Meanwhile, Guillaume Soro, the Prime Minister of Alassane Ouattara, said that Gbagbo "is not only a cheat but a dictator."

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