Sarkozy rules out French military intervention in I. Coast

4th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday said French troops had no reason to get involved in "the internal affairs of Ivory Coast," where strongman Laurent Gbagbo is refusing to step down as president.

Sarkozy also repeated his support for Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognised winner of November's Ivorian presidential elections.

French Defence Minister Alain Juppe said earlier Tuesday that France's troops in Ivory Coast would not "take the initiative" to launch an armed intervention to resolve the country's leadership dispute.

But he said they would defend French nationals there.

France has 900 troops supporting a UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast, its west African former colony which has seen bloodshed in recent weeks in the tense standoff after the disputed election.

"Our soldiers... have no call to meddle in the internal affairs of Ivory Coast. They act under the mandate of the United Nations," Sarkozy said in a speech to French armed forces in the eastern town of Saint-Dizier.

France has urged its 14,000 citizens in its former colony to leave until the crisis is resolved.

© 2011 AFP

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