I.Coast's Gbagbo resists African demands he step down

Mon Jan 3, 2011 11:59am GMT

By Tim Cocks

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo has said he will reject a demand by African heads of state on Monday that he cede power to his rival Alassane Ouattara or face removal by force.

Four leaders representing West African regional bloc ECOWAS and the African Union are due to meet with Gbagbo to ask him to give up the presidency after a November 28 poll that internationally recognised results showed he lost to Ouattara.

More than 170 people have been killed since the start of the standoff in the world's top cocoa grower, which threatens to restart open conflict in the country still split in two by a 2002-03 civil war.

Gbagbo, who has the backing of the country's top court and the army, has shrugged off pressure to step down and said on state television over the weekend that Ouattara "should not count on foreign armies to come and make him president".

A Gbagbo spokesman said Gbagbo, who has been in power since 2000, would not agree to leave.

Ivory Coast's constitutional court, run by a staunch Gbagbo ally, reversed the U.N.-ratified electoral commission results showing a Ouattara win, citing massive evidence of fraud.

As the political crisis deepened, Ivory Coast missed a nearly $30 million interest payment on its $2.3 billion Eurobond

that was due on Friday, the chair of the London Club of commercial creditors told Reuters on Monday.   Continued...

<p>African Union Commission Chairperson Jean Ping (L) shakes hands with Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo at his private residence in Abidjan December 17, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer</p>
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