Ivory Coast's former prime minister Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan 24 December 2010. (Reuters)
France on Monday dealt another blow to Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo by promising to recognise as the country's Paris ambassador the envoy sent by his rival Alassane Ouattara.
Paris is in the process of recognising the envoy named by Ouattara, seen by the international community as the winner of a disputed presidential election last month, French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.
Asked to confirm reports that the current ambassador named by Gbagbo had been relieved of his duties by Ouattara, Valero told reporters that Paris had "taken note of this decision."
The embassy in France, Ivory Coast's former colonial ruler and a major trade partner, is one of the West Afican country's most important diplomatic missions.
The move to recognise the new envoy came a day after French authorities grounded a plane belonging to Gbagbo at an airport in France in response to a request by the rival Ivorian government set up by Ouattara.
Gbagbo, who has been in power for 10 years and rejected UN-certified results that said Ouattara beat him in the November 28 run-off vote, has denounced what he calls a French-US "plot" to oust him.
International leaders have warned the West African country could plunge back into civil war if Gbagbo clings on. Major powers have threatened diplomatic and financial sanctions against Gbagbo and his camp.