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Swiss tell Ivorian ex-president to step down

Switzerland called on Friday for the “immediate resignation” of the outgoing president of Ivory Coast, as fighting raged in the country’s biggest city, Abidjan.

The violence broke out as supporters of the internationally-recognised president, Alassane Ouattara, apparently launched a final push to oust Laurent Gbagbo, who lost the presidential elections last November but has refused to step down.

Switzerland has called for restraint from both sides, especially with regard to violence against civilians.

The Swiss call follows a resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, which also imposed new sanctions against Gbagbo. The sanctions include not only the freezing of assets, but also restrictions on his movements.

Switzerland blocked the assets of Gbagbo and his entourage on January 19.

Swiss citizens in Abidjan have been advised to stay at home and to stay in telephone contact with liaison persons for the Swiss community. The premises of the Swiss chancellery were closed on Thursday for security reasons, but the embassy remains open and is ready to help any Swiss wishing to leave the country.

On March 25 the embassy again advised all Swiss citizens to leave Ivory Coast temporarily, and to inform the embassy of their departure.

The foreign ministry says it knows of 148 Swiss currently in the country, down from 200 before the crisis. The vast majority of them live in the economic capital, Abidjan. and agencies


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