Ben Ali and Gbagbo assets blocked

The Swiss government has frozen the assets in Switzerland of former Tunisian president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, and Ivory Coast president, Laurent Gbagbo.

This content was published on January 19, 2011 - 13:57 and agencies

This year’s Swiss president, Micheline Calmy-Rey, announced on Wednesday that the money of the two African leaders and people close to them would be blocked, with immediate effect.

In a statement, the cabinet said it did not want Switzerland to be a refuge for assets that may have been “acquired illegally” and could serve Gbagbo. The freeze on the money of the Ivory Coast’s discredited president will remain in effect for three years.

Gbagbo is refusing to step down following the presidential election in November. His opponent Alassane Ouattara has been widely recognised by the international community as the winner.

In the case of Ben Ali, who fled Tunisia on Friday succumbing to mass protests against his rule, the Swiss government said it took action to prevent any misappropriation of money belonging to the Tunisian state.

Switzerland added that the Tunisian authorities should have the chance to submit a request to Bern for legal assistance.

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