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West African bank freezes out Gbagbo

Gives Ouattara access to funds, recognising him as "legitimately elected president"

AFP, Friday 24 Dec 2010
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Only Ivory Coast's internationally-recognised leader Alassane Ouattara should be able to access funds from the Central Bank of West African States, seven regional finance ministers said here Thursday.

"The council of ministers of UEMOA (the West African Economic and Monetary Union) has noted the decisions of the UN, the African Union and the ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States) to recognise Alassane Ouattara as the legitimately elected president of Ivory Coast," a statement said.

It said the council had decided that only Ouattara's camp, "or officials regularly designated by the legitimate government of Ivory Coast," could access funds from the regional central bank or represent the country within UEMOA.

The decision could threaten Gbagbo's camp with a cashflow problem.

The ministers instructed the central bank and all regional banks "to take all security measures to ensure the rigorous application of these measures."

The ministers held an extraordinary meeting behind closed doors in Bissau as the political crisis escalated in Ivory Coast, where at least 173 people have been killed in post-election violence.

The west African nation has been in the grip of a deadly political stand-off since incumbent Laurent Gbagbo and his opponent Ouattara both claimed to have won a November 28 presidential election.

The ministers refused to make any other comment before or after the meeting.

Much of the international community recognises Ouattara as president of the west African country after UN-certified results from last month's election indicated he won. Gbagbo's allies quashed the results, alleging irregularities.

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