France to approve Ouattara pick for Ivory Coast envoy

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France will approve would-be Ivory Coast leader Alassane Ouattara's appointment as his country's new ambasador to Paris at the weekly cabinet meeting Wednesday, a senior French official told AFP.

Ouattara has been recognised as Ivory Coast's duly elected president by France and the bulk of the international community, but has been unable to take office at home while strongman Laurent Gbagbo clings to power.

Ouattara has named former journalist Ali Coulibaly as his government's representative in France, Ivory Coast's former colonial power, displacing Gbagbo's appointee and ally, Pierre Kipre.

In Ivory Coast, the challenger's domain is limited to the rebel-held north and the environs of the besieged Golf Hotel on the outskirts of Abidjan, while Gbagbo's forces control ministries and the key cocoa export sector.

But Ouattara has been making steady progress in establishing his shadow government's international credentials, and France's expected recognition of his envoy will be a new diplomatic blow for Gbagbo.

Gbagbo has threatened to expel the ambassadors of countries that do not recognise his government, but France and others have dismissed the warning, insisting they do not recognise his regime.

© 2011 AFP

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