Obama Administration Slaps Sanctions on Ivory Coast Leaders

Jan 7, 2011 10:05am

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) slapped sanctions on Ivory Coast leaders yesterday to protest President Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to step down after he lost the November 28, 2010 run-off election between himself and Alassane Ouattara.

The sanctions prohibit US citizens from doing business with Gbagbo, his wife Simone Gbagbo as well as their allies foreign minister Alcide Ilahiri Djedje, spokesman and political leader Pascal Affi N'Guessan and chief of staff Desire Tagro. In addition, any US assets they have are now frozen.

“Laurent Gbagbo continues to demonstrate wanton disregard for the will and well-being of the people of Côte d’Ivoire,” OFAC Director Adam Szubin said in a statement. “Today’s designations will isolate him and his inner circle from the world’s financial system and underscore the desire of the international community that he step down.”

Gbagbo has refused to accept the results of the election. Ouattara was declared the winner by the Independent Election Commission (CEI) and was certified by the Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General. The election results have been endorsed by the UN Security Council, the African Union, the European Union, and the Economic Community of West African States.

Before Gbagbo swore himself in, on Dec. 5, President Obama sent him a written message, via the US Ambassador, suggesting that he didn't relinquish power he would face isolation and targeted sanctions. Alternately, President Obama said that if he stepped down there would be a role for him in the international community – a suggestion that a job and soft landing would be provided for him.

The White House has twice attempted to call Gbagbo so President Obama could talk to him. Gbagbo would not take the call. President Obama last tried to call in mid-December.

-Jake Tapper

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