Britain, Canada Reject Expulsion Orders Against Diplomats in Ivory Coast

Published on Friday 7th January 2011

Canada and Britain are rejecting the expulsion of their ambassadors by Ivory Coast's incumbent president, saying they recognize only the authority of his rival, the internationally-recognized winner of the country's presidential election. Incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo's government says Canadian ambassador Marie Isabelle Massip and United Kingdom ambassador Nicholas James Westcott are no longer welcome in Ivory Coast.In a proclamation read on state-run television, Gbagbo spokesman Ahoua Don Mello said the foreign minister rescinds their accreditation in accordance with principles of reciprocity concerning diplomatic relations as the Canadian and British governments say they no longer recognize Gbagbo emissaries.But because those governments do not recognize Mr. Gbagbo's authority, they do not recognize his expulsion orders either.London's Foreign Office says the British government does not accept the validity of statements made by anyone other than the internationally-recognized winner of November's vote, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara.Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon says Ottawa does not recognise Mr. Gbagbo's claim to government, and as such, his request that Ambassador Massip leave is illegitimate.The diplomatic standoff threatens to further isolate Mr. Gbagbo after the United States froze his assets and banned U.S. citizens from doing business with him or his associates.The Economic Community of West African States says Mr. Gbagbo must yield power to Mr. Ouattara or it will use military force to drive him from office.Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has led that regional push, ruling out any sort of power-sharing deal between the rivals because the alliance recognizes only Mr. Ouattara as Ivory Coast's duly-elected president.But the unanimity of that regional stand was weakened Friday when Ghana's President John Atta Mills said his country will not take sides in the crisis and does not believe military force will solve the problem.



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