France says respects Ivorian sovereignty, as UN decides to stay
France respects Côte d’Ivoire’s sovereignty, a government representative said Tuesday, as Laurent Gbagbo resisted calls to hand over to his rival, Alassane Ouattara. The UN Security Council Monday extended the mandate of its force in the country, defying Gbagbo’s order to leave.
“It was the sovereign Ivorian people which decided to throw out Gbagbo,” government spokesperson François Baroin said, adding that Paris is “extremely respectful” of the country’s sovereignty and of “international decisions”.
Gbagbo’s supporters have slammed French President Nicolas Sarkozy for telling Gbagbo to quit. Baroin insisted that the “international community” was the first to enact sanctions against the Ivorian leader after last month’s run-off election.
The UN Security Council on Monday extended the mandate of UN forces in the country, despite an order by Gbagbo to leave on Monday.
The council also warned that it may order “targeted” sanctions and reinforce the 10,000-strong force.
UN security officials on Tuesday accused Gbagbo’s supporters of wanting to cut off fuel to their troops and forcing personnel to leave their apartments in a campaign of harassment which also included armed “provocations”.
US President Barack Obama’s administration on Monday threatened sanctions if Gbagabo did not cede power to Ouattara.