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Gbagbo supporters slam foreign sanctions

Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon

International sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo are “a threat to Ivory Coast”, says a top adviser to the recalcitrant Ivorian leader, while his interior minister told RFI that they “make me smile”.

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The US on Tuesday slapped a travel ban on some of Gbagbo’s allies, following sanctions imposed earlier by the European Union.

France, the European Union, the United Nations and the US have decided that Gbagbo should quit as president after last month’s election without bothering to hear his case, says his special adviser Yao Gnamien.

Laurent Gbagbo special adviser Yao Gnamien

“First of all before suspending any state you have to listen to the different parties involved in the conflict,” he told RFI. “So we cannot think that they can suspend Ivory Coast without listening to President Gbagbo or without listening to the two sides.”

Gnaniem accuses the European Unon of double standards and hits out at France's treatment of Roma people.

"In France when President Sarkozy used to send the Roma back to their country, the European Union they gave the floor to President Sarkozy to explain what was wrong. So how can they sanction a country without listening to what is going on?"

The African Union and the Ecowas group of African states also say Gbagbo lost the vote and have suspended Côte d’Ivoire from membership.

That enrages Gnaniem, who challenges Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, who is the current Ecowas chairman, to come to Côte d’Ivoire.

“No state should use threats or use of force so if Mr Goodluck Jonathan wants to know what is going on in Cote d’Ivoire he has to come to visit us to know what is going on,” he says. “What we need is President Goodluck if he can come to Côte d’Ivoire to listen to the different parties and then to make a decision it will be very great.

“If they want to play the role of judge if they want to help to solve the problem, first of all, they have to listen to the different parties involving the Ivorian conflict.”

Gbagbo’s interior minister Emile Guiriéoulou laughs off the European visa ban, which preceded Tuesday’s US travel restrictions.

“I’d like to point out that the president of Côte d4ivoire, president Laurent Gbagbo, when he goes on holiday, he goes to Korogo [north Côte d’Ivoire], to San Pedro [south Côte d’Ivoire],” he says. “He doesn’t go to Europe, so these are not sanctions.”

Threats to freeze Gbagbo’s assets also invite Guiriéoulou’s derision.

“Those African leaders they don’t have a problem with, don’t they mind if they have assets in Europe?” he asks. “When I hear Europeans say such things, I’m ashamed for them.”

Ouattara's choice for prime minister, Guillaume Soro, accused Gbagbo's security forces of deploying death squads, claiming that they are backed up by Liberian mercenaries.

"To date, we've counted almost 200 dead and 1,000 wounded by gunfire, 40 disappearances and 732 arrests. Worse, women have been beaten, stripped, assaulted and raped," he said.

No independent confirmation of the charges has been made but UN officials at the weekend said that extrajudicial killings were taking place.

Soro called on Ivorians to join a campaign of civil disobedience against Gbagbo.
 

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