Plane belonging to Gbagbo grounded in Switzerland: France

26th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Authorities grounded a plane belonging to Ivory Coast's incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo on Sunday at an airport in Switzerland, the French government said.

The official aircraft of Gbagbo, who is defying international pressure to quit power, was blocked at the Basel-Mulhouse airport, jointly administered by French and Swiss authorities, a French foreign ministry spokesman told AFP.

France and other world powers including the UN Security Council have been urging Gbagbo to cede power to his rival Alassane Ouattara, whom they recognise as the winner of a disputed presidential election last month.

The ministry's spokesman Bernard Valero told AFP the plane was grounded in response to a request by the rival Ivorian government set up by Ouattara.

"The legitimate authorities (of Ivory Coast) asked us to ground the plane and that's exactly what we have done in response to their request," Valero said.

A spokesman from the Swiss federal aviation authority confirmed that the plane was grounded at Basel-Mulhouse after it stopped there for servicing.

"The French authorities blocked the plane," the spokesman said, without giving further details.

Gbagbo has been in power for 10 years and rejected UN-certified results that said Ouattara beat him in the November 28 run-off vote.

International leaders have warned the West African country could plunge back into civil war if Gbagbo clings on. Major powers have threatened diplomatic and financial sanctions against Gbagbo and his camp.

The European Union has already slapped visa bans on Gbagbo and 18 of his closest allies.

© 2010 AFP

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