ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Allies of the man who the international community says won Ivory Coast’s disputed presidential election called Sunday for a general strike that would last until the incumbent hanging on to power concedes defeat and leaves office.
Djedje Mady, the head of Alassane Ouattara’s electoral coalition, said it called on “all Ivorians and those who live in Ivory Coast and believe in peace and justice to cease all their activities on Monday, December 27, 2010, until Laurent Gbagbo leaves power.”
It was the latest form of pressure to try to force Gbagbo from the presidency nearly a month after the United Nations said Ouattara won the runoff vote. Gbagbo has refused to leave despite international calls for his ouster, and West African leaders say they now will remove him by force if he fails to go.
In an interview with Associated Press Television News on Sunday, Gbagbo said he was not concerned about world opinion, insisting he was duly elected. He said of his detractors: “Maybe they do not want me, I admit it, but I am not looking to be loved by them. I respect and abide by the Ivorians’ vote.”
The U.N. has said at least 173 people have been killed in violence over the vote, heightening fears that the country once divided in two could return to civil war.
On Sunday, Gbagbo’s interior minister accused the U.N. of only telling half the story. Emile Guirieoulou said that at least 36 of the victims were police or other security forces who “were targeted by gunfire coming from the protesters.”
He also alleged that the thousands of refugees arriving in Liberia had fled violence perpetrated by rebels who support Ouattara.