France dismisses Gbagbo move against its ICoast envoy

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France rejected an announcement Saturday by the government of incumbent Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo that it had cancelled the accreditation of its ambassador.

A French foreign ministry statement dismissed the move, which came after Paris recognised Gbagbo's rival Alassane Ouattara, saying it had no legal standing.

"We have ended the accreditation of the French ambassador to Ivory Coast," Gbagbo spokesman Ahoua Don Mello said.

"He is now considered unemployed, an ordinary French citizen who is no longer an interlocutor for us."

The Gbagbo side had acted Saturday after receiving a verbal note from Paris saying it had accredited Ali Coulibaly, Ouattara's pick as Ivory Coast's envoy to France, he added.

But a French foreign ministry statement said the move by Gbagbo was "devoid of any legal standing."

Gbagbo's government has already ordered out the Canadian and British ambassadors after London and Ot`tawa withdrew the accreditation of his envoys, but they have refused to go.

The United Nations and the European Union have also accredited Ouattara's choices, after broad international recognition that he was the winner of elections on November 28.

Gbagbo refuses to step down, while Ouattara remains holed up under UN protection in an Abidjan resort hotel.

Coulibaly, formerly Ouattara's diplomatic advisor, arrived in France on Wednesday to take up his post, handing his credentials to Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.

France, the former colonial power in Ivory Coast, has a history of tense relations with Gbagbo.

© 2011 AFP

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