Ivory Coast President-elect Alassane Ouattara says President Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to give up power and acknowledge losing the November election, is stalling for time to arm himself.
Listen to VOA’s Interview With President-elect Ouattara
Mr. Ouattara told VOA that Mr. Gbagbo is looking to buy weapons and ammunition and recruit mercenaries and militias. He rejected a Gbagbo appeal for negotiations, saying there is nothing to talk about.
The president-elect said the will of the Ivorian people cannot be negotiated, adding that Mr. Gbagbo lost the election and must go.
Mr. Ouattara said if pressure does not work, Mr. Gbagbo should be removed by force.
A Gbagbo spokesman said Sunday that new European Union sanctions do not intimidate his government. The spokesman said the world relies on Ivory Coast for cocoa and that the country can get what it needs from some other place besides the EU.
The United States already has frozen Mr. Gbagbo’s U.S. assets and barred Americans from doing business with his government.
Mr. Gbagbo insists he won the November 28 presidential election. The international community recognizes Mr. Ouattara as the winner.
West Africa’s central bank says it is blocking Mr. Gbagbo’s access to Ivory Coast’s assets and is giving that power instead to Mr. Ouattara.
African Union leaders have been meeting to discuss a solution to the standoff. The West African regional bloc ECOWAS threatens military action if Mr. Gbagbo does not step down.
The United Nations says at least 247 people have died in violence since the November 28 election.