ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — The European Union will impose sanctions on Ivory Coast unless the incumbent president recognizes his rival as the winner of last month's election, officials said Monday, as panic spread in Abidjan after shots were briefly fired.
An EU official said the bloc's foreign ministers had agreed to freeze the assets and impose a visa ban on anyone blocking the inauguration of Alassane Ouattara as the country's new president.
Ouattara's electoral win was certified by the United Nations, yet both he and incumbent Laurent Gbagbo have claimed victory and taken oaths of office. Ouattara has been recognized as the legal president by the US, the EU, former colonial ruler France and the African Union.
The EU official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with standing regulations, said the measures would be implemented if Ouattara is prevented from assuming office. The most immediate effect of any sanctions would be the withholding of some €255 million ($340 million) in EU development aid.