December 18, 2010 / 8:19 AM / 8 years ago

Ivory Coast's Gbagbo going nowhere: spokesman

LONDON (Reuters) - Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has no intention of stepping down following last month’s disputed election, his spokesman said on Friday.

A supporter of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo holds up a sign during a meeting between youths and Charles Ble Goude, recently named as the minister of youth and employment in Gbagbo's government, in Abidjan December 15, 2010. Gbagbo is locked in a power struggle with Alassane Ouattara, with both claiming victory in a November 28 presidential election that was meant to reunite the world's top cocoa grower after a 2002-3 civil war but which has instead deepened divisions. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon (IVORY COAST - Tags: POLITICS)

A senior U.S. official said African nations had promised Gbagbo a “soft landing” in exile, as he faces growing international pressure to step aside.

The West African state has been in turmoil since the November 28 vote, in which Gbagbo claimed victory with backing from the nation’s top legal body.

The Constitutional Council annulled hundreds of thousands of votes in pro-Ouattara areas and rejected the U.N.-certified provisional result, which gave Alassane Ouattara victory by a 10 percent margin.

“President Gbagbo is going nowhere. He was elected for five years and he will only leave power in 2015,” spokesman Alain Toussaint told Reuters in London.

Toussaint condemned a European Union call for the army to defect and support Ouattara.

“The Ivory Coast army is republican, it is loyal to the institutions of the republic. The European Union call is totally irresponsible and scandalous,” Toussaint said.

“That means that the European Union is calling for civil war in Ivory Coast.”

France is Ivory Coast’s former colonial power, and President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged Gbagbo to go or face sanctions.

Toussaint said the two men had not been in contact in recent days: “I think President Gbagbo and Sarkozy have nothing to say to one another because this is an internal affair.”

He accused France and its Western allies of trying to install their own man:

“France, the United States, the EU want to carry out a plot, a constitutional coup d’etat, and we say ‘No’ ... we can’t allow foreign governments to interfere in our affairs.”

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