Gbagbo side says French I Coast loses envoy status

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The government of incumbent Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo said Saturday it had cancelled the accreditation of France's ambassador, after Paris recognised his rival Alassane Ouattara.

"We have ended the accreditation of the French ambassador to Ivory Coast. He is now considered unemployed, an ordinary French citizen who is no longer an interlocutor for us," spokesman Ahoua Don Mello said.

He said 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.

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

Belgium and the United Nations 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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