France says I.Coast's Gbagbo can still make honourable exit

24th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo can still make an honourable exit, provided he hand over presidential power to his rival Alassane Ouattara, French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said Friday.

"Mr Gbagbo still has the possibility of leaving this situation with dignity by recognising what the results are and by handing over power," Alliot-Marie told the private RMC-BFMTV radio station.

"He has the right to a completely honourable exit... but the more time passes and the more things get out of control and there's violence, the more this possibility distances itself," she said.

The minister was answering a question as to whether the French government had offered Gbagbo, who has refused to relinquish power to the internationally recognised winner of last month's vote, to come to France.

France and other countries, including the United States, have offered Gbagbo various options if he leaves power following the November 28 election won by Ouattara, a senior French official said on condition of anonymity.

"He's been offered all possibilities, he accepted nothing," the official told AFP.

Alliot-Marie reiterated that there was as yet no direct threat to French or European citizens in the Ivory Coast, although the French government on Wednesday recommended the remainder of its 14,000 citizens to leave.

The United Nations has said that "atrocities" are being carried out during the deadly political stand-off that has left at least 173 people dead.

The UNOCI peacekeeping force has also complained that Gbagbo's camp continues to besiege the waterfront Abidjan hotel where Ouattara's rival government is holed up, protected by 800 UN troops.

© 2010 AFP

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