22nd Sep 2023

EU ratchets up sanctions on Ivory Coast

European Union diplomats on Wednesday (29 December) agreed that member states would only recognise representatives of the Ivory Coast appointed by the widely acknowledged winner of the country's recent elections, Alassane Ouattara.

The move aims to ratchet up pressure on incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo to step down.

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  • Posters for incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo (Photo: Public domain)

November presidential elections, already postponed since 2005, indicated a victory for Mr Ouattara of 54 percent of votes in a second round. However, the ruling social democratic Ivorian Popular Front of President Gbago contested the results and claimed to be a victim of electoral fraud.

International observers rejected the claims and Mr Ouattara, a liberal and former International Monetary Fund economist, has been recognised as the victor by the EU, the UN, and the African Union. The Ivory Coast's membership of the AU has been suspended as a result of Mr Gbago's refusal to accept the results of the election.

Ambassadors from the bloc's 27 states on Wednesday also approved an expansion of a list of Ivorians banned from travelling to the EU, including key supporters and government and military officials.

The EU sanctions follow initial travel restrictions slapped on Mr Gbago and 18 members of his coterie agreed by European foreign ministers on 13 December.

The full travel ban list now totals 61 figures.

Additionally on Wednesday, Ivorian expatriates entered their country's embassy in the European capital and attempted to remove portraits of the incumbent leader.

An asset freeze and support for the United Nation's existing peacekeeping force in the country were also discussed by EU diplomats.

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