Gbagbo Tries to Seize Control of Bank Branches

Published on Wednesday 26th January 2011

Ivory Coast's incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo says he is seizing control of Ivorian branches of the West African central bank, in an attempt to retain control of state finances and his hold on power.Mr. Gbagbo has ordered Ivorian staffers to answer to local officials and not the bank's management, which is based in Dakar, Senegal.  Mr. Gbagbo needs access to government assets to pay his supporters in the civil service and the military.In a counter move, the internationally-recognized winner of November's presidential election, Alassane Ouattara, has ordered Ivorian branches of the regional bank to be closed.  He has vowed to prosecute anyone who follows Mr. Gbagbo's orders.Saturday, the Gbagbo ally running the Ivory Coast branch of the bank resigned.The Central Bank of West African States revoked Mr. Gbagbo's rights to requisition Ivorian funds in December, but Mr. Ouattara's camp says Mr. Gbagbo has still been able to get access to those funds through his allies.Mr. Ouattara is conducting his struggle to take power from a hotel in Abidjan, where he is surrounded by security forces and U.N. peacekeepers.Mr. Ouattara also has called for a one-month ban on exports of cocoa to try to starve the Gbagbo camp of funds.  But Mr. Gbagbo's administration says exports will continue.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



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