I.Coast Paris embassy shut after Ouattara backers take over

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Ivory Coast's key Paris embassy closed down Tuesday, a day after it was briefly taken over by supporters of Alassane Ouattara, the internationally-backed leader seeking to oust Laurent Gbagbo.

"The embassy is closed until further notice," a French police officer told AFP outside the premises, where the entrance was closed and several posters of Ouattara had been stuck. The officer gave no further details.

Applicants for visas to visit Ivory Coast received an email late on Monday telling them the embassy would be shut until Sunday, "due to the new year's holiday."

Ouattara supporters peacefully took over the embassy Monday after loyalists of Gbagbo left. Ouattara's backers left in the evening saying they had assurances that Gbagbo's envoy Pierre Kipre would not resume his post there.

Bouake Karamoko, a representative of the pro-Ouattara group RHDP in France, said his camp was "awaiting the arrival of the new ambassador" named by Ouattara.

France, Ivory Coast's former colonial ruler and a key player in its foreign relations, has said it will recognise Ouattara's envoy over that of embattled strongman Gbagbo whom it rejects as president.

Gbagbo has clung on to power since a disputed November 28 presidential vote, defying broad international pressure to quit.

© 2010 AFP

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