Rival I. Coast political demos hit Paris

23rd January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Hundreds of people demonstrated noisily in Paris on Sunday in two separate protests for the rivals in Ivory Coast's leadership crisis.

Scores protested on Nation square in eastern Paris against French President Nicolas Sarkozy's support for Alassane Ouattara, endorsed by key world powers as the winner of the November 28 presidential poll, an AFP reporter saw in the early afternoon.

Police later estimated the turnout at several hundred.

"Sarkozy, murderer!" chanted the crowd, dancing and waving orange and green Ivorian flags in support of Laurent Gbagbo, who is resisting pressure from France, the UN and other powers to step aside after a decade as president.

Across town at the Trocadero square meanwhile, about 200 France-based Ouattara supporters rallied, chanting: "Thank you, Sarkozy!", an AFP photographer at the scene said.

Gbagbo has accused France, Ivory Coast's former colonial ruler, of meddling in its affairs and said Saturday he had stripped the accreditation from France's ambassador there.

France rejected this move and has recognised Ali Coulibaly, the man named by Ouattara as ambassador to France. Ouattara himself is running his rival administration from an Abidjan hotel guarded by United Nations troops.

UN-certified results from November's presidential election in Ivory Coast gave Ouattara a victory, but the Constitutional Council, controlled by allies of Gbagbo, alleged irregularities and anulled the vote-count.

An organiser of the Trocadero rally, Diomande Adama, told AFP it was "to support Ouattara and thank France for legitimising what the Ivorian people decided."

"Gbagbo to the ICC," the International Criminal Court, read one banner at the pro-Ouattara rally.

One furious pro-Gbagbo protestor in Paris, wrapped in an Ivorian flag, bellowed: "We don't want the UN in Ivory Coast" -- referring to the force posted in the country since a 2003 peace deal ended a brief civil war.

"Sarko, Ivory Coast is not a district of France," read one pro-Gbagbo placard.

© 2011 AFP

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