The government of Côte d’Ivoire’s incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo has ordered the expulsion of the British and Canadian ambassadors because they do not recognise ambassadors appointed by Gbagbo. Presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara meanwhile called for a west African sting operation against Gbagbo.
Both the UK and Canada have rejected Thursday’s expulsion order as illegitimate, saying Ouattara is the legitimate president of Côte d’Ivoire.
Gbagbo government spokesman Ahoua Don Mello read out a statement ordering the expulsion of Britain’s Nicholas James Westcott and Canada’s Marie Isabelle Massip “through the application of the principle of reciprocity”.
Their diplomatic privileges and immunity would remain in place until they left the country or until a reasonable amount of time had passed for them to leave, Mello added.
“Canada does not recognise Laurent Gbagbo’s claim to government. As such, his request is illegitimate,” said Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon.
Ouattara called Thursday for an operation by west African special forces to kidnap Gbagbo.
“Legitimate force doesn’t mean a force against Ivorians,” he said. “It’s a force to remove Laurent Gbagbo and that’s been done elsewhere, in Africa and in Latin America, there are non-violent special operations which allow simply to take the unwanted person and take him elsewhere.”
Ouattara said he is ready to grant an amnesty to Gbagbo, in an interview published Friday in French newspaper Le Figaro.
“I am prepared to give guarantees and to recognise his rank as a former head of state, but he needs to agree soon to leave power,” said Ouattara.
But he added the members of the country’s constitutional court who declared Gbagbo the winner in the 28 November election should be tried for high treason.