US follows EU, UN; will back Ouattara's diplomats
Dec 30, 2010, 14:27 GMT
Washington - The United States said Wednesday it would recognize a US ambassador that Ivory Coast presidential hopeful Alassane Ouattara names to Washington, following a similar move by the European Union and the United Nations aimed at putting pressure on incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.
Ouattara is widely believed to have won November elections in the Ivory Coast, but Gbagbo has refused to cede power despite international demands for him to resign. The stand-off has already claimed more than 100 lives and raised the spectre of civil war.
'We view president-elect Ouattara as the legitimate leader' of the Ivory Coast, said US State Department spokesman Mark Toner. 'In his capacity, when he names a diplomatic corps, including to the United States, we'll work within appropriate protocol to recognize that person.'
Toner also said a team from the Department of Defence was in the Ivory Coast to make 'contingency' plans for possible evacuations of embassy personnel and others if violence in the African country escalates.