Ouattara complains of cash leaving Ivorian central bank

Fri Jan 14, 2011 2:49pm GMT

* Money leaving Ivorian account at central bank-Ouattara

* Flows risk undermining effort to freeze out Gbagbo

DAKAR, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Ivorian presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara complained on Friday of "daily" withdrawals from the country's account at the regional central bank despite international efforts to freeze out his rival Laurent Gbagbo.

West Africa's central bank last month noted world-wide recognition of Ouattara as Ivory Coast's legitimate president and said only appointed members of the "legitimate government" could access funds held with it by the top cocoa grower.

Although it fell short of openly recognising Ouattara as president, the decision was seen as a key step in pressuring Gbagbo to cede power in a power struggle after a Nov. 28 election left both men claiming to have won.

"We have the figures, daily withdrawals from Ivory Coast's account," Toikeusse Mabri, Ouattara's minister for planning and development, told reporters after meeting the governor of the bank at its headquarters in Dakar.

Mabri said he would give details of the amounts withdrawn later in the day but Ivory Coast's reserves at the bank, known as the BCEAO, are around $3 billion.

Mabri added that employees at the bank, which is headed by an Ivorian seen as an ally of Gbabgo's, were being intimidated by security forces deployed at their offices.   Continued...

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