Gbagbo must leave head of state's residence: French minister
France's cooperation minister Wednesday said Laurent Gbagbo must exit the head of state's residence and accept he is no longer president, as his rival's forces sought to remove him from his bunker.
"Mr. Gbagbo must understand once and for all that he did not win the elections ...," Henri de Raincourt told AFP while attending the swearing-in ceremony here for Benin President Boni Yayi following his recent re-election.
"I think that Mr. Gbagbo finally understands that he must leave the residence where he is still unjustifiably installed.
"The residence is not his personal residence. It is a state residence. It belongs to the head of state, and Mr. Gbagbo is no longer the president of Ivory Coast."
Gbagbo was holed up with his wife and a few others in the residence in Abidjan's northern suburb Cocody, defiantly refusing to acknowledge he had been beaten at the polls by his long-time rival, Alassane Ouattara.
French helicopters had joined UN forces in attacking Gbagbo's bases earlier in the week, which has drawn criticism from some countries.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the aim was to stop heavy weapons being used against civilians and not a declaration of war against Gbagbo.
Asked about France's involvement in Ivory Coast, Raincourt said "France is not an actor as such in the crisis."
"Since the beginning, France has been in line with the position of the international community, embodied by the UN," he said. "France is going to support all the efforts of the international community."
© 2011 AFP