West African leaders threaten force in Ivory Coast

December 26, 2010 04:14

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast  — The man who refused to leave Ivory Coast's presidency faced new threats to his grasp on power after regional leaders threatened to remove him by force if necessary.

Diplomatic pressure and sanctions have left Laurent Gbagbo increasingly isolated though he has been able to maintain his rule nearly a month after the disputed vote because of the loyalty of security forces and the military.

Even that, though, may disappear if he runs out of money to pay them.

Late Friday, West Africa leaders from the 15-country regional bloc ECOWAS — the Economic Community of West African States — threatened to send military intervention into Ivory Coast if incumbent Gbagbo refuses to step down peacefully.

"In the event that Mr. Gbagbo fails to heed this immutable demand of ECOWAS, the Community would be left with no alternative but to take other measures, including the use of legitimate force, to achieve the goals of the Ivorian people," said a statement from ECOWAS.

James Gbeho, president of ECOWAS said the group of West African leaders was making an "ultimate gesture" to Gbagbo to urge him to make a peaceful exit.

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