Sarkozy urges I.Coast president to step down
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Saturday for the "indisputable" election victory of Alassane Ouattara in the Ivory Coast to be respected after President Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down.
Sarkozy said that elections had shown "a clear and indisputable victory for Alassane Ouattara," adding that this verdict had been accepted by the international community and the United Nations.
"I call for all civil and military officials and leaders to respect the wishes of the people and avoid any actions that could provoke violence," he told reporters on the first day of a visit to India.
The United States and the European Union have already thrown their weight behind Ouattara, while Ivorians are anxiously waiting for the next move by Gbagbo, who has been a decade in power.
Sarkozy said he had spoken with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as both leaders in the former French colony.
"I will speak again with president Gbagbo today," he added in Bangalore after making his first speech during a four-day visit to India.
State television in the Ivory Coast said early Saturday that a ceremony was planned to confirm Gbagbo in office at midday and broadcast pictures of him meeting military leaders who it said had pledged allegiance to him.
The Constitutional Council, the country's highest court run by the president's allies, had declared Gbagbo the winner, tightening the deadlock as fears mounted of more deadly unrest.
Ouattara has defied Gbagbo, declaring himself president-elect.
The election aimed to end a decade of instability in Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer and formerly west Africa's most prosperous country.
It was split in two by a civil war in 2002, when Gbagbo survived an attempted coup. He has continued to rule the country since his term ended in 2005.
© 2010 AFP