France, Germany, tell nationals to leave Ivory Coast

22nd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

France has recommended the remainder of its estimated 15,000 nationals living in Ivory Coast leave its crisis-hit former colony temporarily, government spokesman Francois Baroin said on Wednesday.

The government recommends that "all French who can leave Ivory Coast temporarily pending a normalisation of the situation," Baroin said following a cabinet meeting, describing the move as "precautionary and prudent."

Germany also recommended that its nationals leave Ivory Coast and warned others against travelling to the crisis-hit nation, a foreign ministry statement in Berlin said.

The west African nation has been in the grip of a deadly political stand-off since incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and his opponent Alassane Ouattara both claimed to have won a November 28 presidential election.

Gbagbo insisted again on Tuesday that he is the one true president and his besieged rivals refused once again to talk with him.

The 65-year-old strongman accused the United Nations of "making war" on his people, and insisted that French and UN peacekeepers would have to leave.

"While foreigners have not yet been threatened it seems necessary to us to renew our prudence," Baroin said, repeating advice not to travel to Ivory Coast and for French nationals in the country to exercise prudence.

The German foreign ministry said, "We currently warn against travel to the Ivory Coast. Due to the unpredictable way the situation is developing, we recommend German nationals in the Ivory Coast leave the country."

The ministry was not immediately able to confirm how many German nationals were affected.

Gbagbo has accused foreign countries of interfering in Ivory Coast's affairs and his camp has reacted angrily to pressure from world powers including former colonial ruler France for him to step aside for his rival Ouattara.

Much of the international community recognises Ouattara as president of the west African country after UN-certified results from last month's election indicated he won. Gbagbo's allies quashed the results, alleging irregularities.

The European Union Monday announced a first set of sanctions, slapping visa bans on Gbagbo and 18 of his allies, including his wife.

The US State Department said on Tuesday it had banned dozens of Gbagbo's supporters from travelling to the United States, and the UN Security Council had warned of sanctions if Gbagbo does not quit.

Amid UN accusations of killings and other abuses, France has urged Gbagbo to restrain his security forces, and warned that the French peacekeeping contingent will protect its expatriates in Ivory Coast.

French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said on Tuesday that French forces were on standby to evacuate citizens if the situation deteriorated.

© 2010 AFP

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