Ivory Coast: Gbagbo expels UK and Canada ambassadors

By Nangayi Guyson – Ivory Coast’s state television on Thursday reported  president  Laurent Gbagbo saying he is expelling the British and Canadian ambassadors as a reciprocal measure.

But UK criticized the action calling it invalid move. The UK and Canada are among the nations who have expelled ambassadors appointed by Mr Gbagbo in order to replace them with diplomats chose by Mr Outtara.

According to BBC’s , the expulsions are largely symbolic and the UK ambassador, who acts as envoy for several countries in the region, is based in neighbouring Ghana, and the Canadian embassy will still be able to carry out its normal functions.

Alassane Ouattara was  international recognized  as November’s presidential election winner but Mr Gbagbo has refused to step down.

Mr Ouattara has urged West African special forces to remove Mr Gbagbo.

The West African regional body Ecowas has threatened to force Mr Gbagbo out but has said it wants to try mediation efforts first.

Mr Gbagbo still has the public backing of the army and control of state media.

The state television statement said the UK and Canadian envoys were being expelled as their countries no longer recognised Mr Gbagbo’s ambassadors.

“Through the application of the principle of reciprocity governing diplomatic relations, the ministry informs Madame Marie Isabelle Massip that her accreditation as Canadian ambassador in Ivory Coast is ended.

“For the same reasons, the Foreign Ministry informs ambassador Nicholas James Westcott that his accreditation as United Kingdom and Northern Ireland ambassador is also ended.”

The UK Foreign Office responded by saying: “The British government has recognised Mr Alassane Ouattara as the democratically elected president of Cote D’Ivoire.

“It recognises the legitimacy of statements made by, or on behalf of, his government. The British government does not accept the validity of statements made by others.”

The UK withdrew recognition of Mr Gbagbo’s envoy on 31 December and Canada did the same on 29 December. France has said it will recognise Mr Ouattara’s envoy.

Mr Ouattara was initially proclaimed the winner by the country’s election commission – a verdict backed by the UN, which helped organise the poll.

But the country’s Constitutional Council, headed by an ally of Mr Gbagbo, later ruled that he had won, citing voting irregularities in the north.