Britain removes Gbagbo-appointed ICoast diplomat

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Britain said Friday it no longer recognised the ambassador appointed by Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo who is refusing to step down after elections widely viewed as having been won by his rival Alassane Ouattara.

"The Foreign Office has today informed Mr Philippe D Djangone-Bi that, as of 31 December 2010, he is no longer the Ambassador for Cote d'Ivoire to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said in a statement.

"We will be moving to recognise the appointee of President Alassane Ouattara in the usual manner," the statement added.

The decision was made in line with a decision taken by Britain's fellow European Union members.

Earlier, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was time for Gbagbo "to recognise that he must go."

Asked if Britain would support military intervention to resolve the standoff, Hague told BBC radio: "Yes, in principle... They would be well advised to seek the authority of the United Nations to do that. But we would be supportive of that at the United Nations."

A delegation of three West African presidents visited Abidjan on Tuesday to deliver an ultimatum, but left without a clear result, and have since said they are still pressing for a peaceful solution.

With little sign of an end to the crisis in sight, France on Friday advised its citizens to leave the West African country for their own safety.

© 2010 AFP

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