Embattled Ouattara Speaks to US

(a president who so far only controls the Golf Hotel in Abidjan)

Main Bullet Points from his pleas at CSIS today in Washington

Use of Force is Needed Six Weeks into Crisis
Gbagbo Only Has 2,000 Core Armed Backers, with Weapons Stashed at Presidency, Republican Guard, His Residency
Blocking West African Bank Has Not Worked Yet
Foreign Companies like Cargill, ADM should not pay taxes to Gbagbo's Government, and any taxes paid should be paid again at a later date ...



Here is my full VOA report which I dont think made it to the web

At a conference organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mr. Ouattara accused Mr. Gbagbo of using his extra time in office to arm and finance his supporters, including alleged Liberian mercenaries, who have been carrying out raids in pro-Ouattara neighborhoods in the main Ivorian city Abidjan to suppress any people power movement.

Mr. Ouattara who spoke via web video link from the Golf Hotel in Abidjan where he is under U.N. peacekeeper protection called Mr. Gbagbo's government a fascist regime which uses terror. He also accused his political rival of using the state broadcaster RTI as what he called hate television, and said he was trying to set up his own television.

Mr. Ouattara said he was trying to use his experience in the United States, including a stint as the International Monetary Fund deputy managing director, to bring democracy to Ivory Coast.
"I really want Cote d'Ivoire to benefit from my experience and I will do everything for this country to get out of this crisis peacefully and to show that democracy can be implemented in Africa and that this will lead to economic growth, to social growth and that Africans will be proud to have a country, a continent, where it is important to count for the rest of the world."

International pressure, including removing Mr. Gbagbo's ambassadors and individual sanctions, have been piling on Mr. Gbagbo since the Ivorian constitutional council threw out votes from the Ivory Coast rebel-held north and overturned results which gave Mr. Ouattara victory in the November 28th presidential election.

Both men then held competing swearing-in ceremonies saying they were both the rightful president of cocoa-rich Ivory Coast.

Mr. Ouattara has tried to have the West African regional bank block Mr. Gbagbo's access to the Ivorian account but he says this has not been successful yet.

"The governor, as well as the national director, and the deputy national director of the Central Bank in Cote d'Ivoire do not give clear messages to the banks and to companies on how to deal with the Gbagbo regime."

He also called foreign cocoa, coffee and oil-producing companies to stop paying taxes to Mr. Gbagbo's government, which he called illegitimate.

"We are working on that. We have had several meetings with the major petroleum companies abroad and all these cocoa-business companies to tell them that if they pay export taxes to the Gbagbo government we will consider that these taxes are due when the situation gets normalized so they should not pay taxes to the Gbagbo government. Of course, they have problems because Mr. Gbagbo uses the military forces to go and intimidate them and this is a major problem of security for most of them."

Mr. Ouattara also said the international community should not shy away from the possible use of force to remove Mr. Gbagbo.

"I feel that extracting him should not be difficult. Mr. Gbabo's group of people protecting him are about 2,000 and they are the ones who have all the arms, the arms are with them at the presidential palace, his residence and at the Republican Guard."

Mr. Gbagbo has warned that if there is any move to remove him by force, this could lead to all-out civil war. Both Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Ouattara have both said they are willing to have a government of national unity, as long as they are president.

Last year's election was supposed to end the division of Ivory Coast between the rebel-held north and government-run south but instead has exacerbated tensions and led to dozens of deaths.

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