Gbagbo to kick out the UN, French troops from Ivory Coast

AFP , Saturday 18 Dec 2010

Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo has ordered UN peacekeepers and French troops to leave the country, a spokeswoman for his government said Saturday, in a statement read on state television.

"The president of the Republic of the Ivory Coast has just asked for the immediate departure from Ivorian territory of UNOCI and the French forces that support it," Education Minister Jacqueline Lohoues-Oble said

Both Gbagbo and the opposition leader Alassane Ouattara,  claim to have won last month's presidential election and have declared themselves President. While Ouattara is recognised by the international community, the incumbent Gbagbo still controls the military.

As tension mounted between the two camps, Gbagbo's supporters accused the United Nations 10,000-strong UNOCI peacekeeping force and France's 900 troops in Ivory Coast of supporting pro-Ouattara rebel fighters.

There was no immediate reaction from the United Nations to the demand, but UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has previously defended UNOCI's work, called on Gbagbo to step down and vowed to protect Ouattara's government.

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