I.Coast’s Ouattara gives Gbagbo midnight deadline

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Ivory Coast’s internationally recognised presidential election winner Alassane Ouattara has given rival Laurent Gbagbo until midnight Friday to quit, Ouattara’s prime minister Guillaume Soro said.

If Gbagbo quits before the start of the New Year, he will “have no worries,” said Soro, adding that this was in line with a pledge Ouattara made to regional mediators trying to negotiate an end to the standoff which could ignite a war.

But “if he does not relinquish power by midnight, the president of the republic will regretfully have to think about other measures,” said Soro, a former rebel leader who had also served as Gbagbo’s prime minister.

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Soro, who played a leading role in a failed 2002 uprising against Gbagbo which split Ivory Coast in half, said he was “convinced that only force” would make Gbagbo leave.

Ouattara, recognised by the international community as winner of the November 28 presidential election, is being protected by UN peacekeepers who on Friday were staring down a threat by Gbagbo supporters to storm a hotel he has made his temporary headquarters.

The West African regional organisation ECOWAS is mulling ousting Gbagbo by force if the strongman, in power for 10 years, continues to defy international opinion and cling to power.

Source: www. smh.com.au