The United States has imposed travel restrictions on Côte d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo, members of his regime and others who are undermining their country’s democratic process.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said December 21 that Gbagbo’s efforts to remain in power despite credible November 28 polling results that elected Alassane Ouattara “threaten to compromise years of reconciliation and peace-building efforts on behalf of the Ivoirian people.”
He said the travel restrictions revoke existing visas to the United States and prohibit new visa applications from being accepted. The measure applies to members of Gbagbo’s regime “as well as other individuals who support policies or actions that undermine the democratic process and reconciliation efforts in Côte d’Ivoire.”
Crowley said there are dozens of individuals being targeted and the list “will go up” to potentially include Gbagbo’s Cabinet ministers and others who are continuing to help him remain in power. The move follows the European Union’s December 20 decision to impose an assets freeze and a visa ban on Gbagbo and his wife.
“The message to President Gbagbo is ‘It’s time to step aside.’ The longer that he holds on, the more pressure will be applied, and fewer opportunities to pursue a different line of work will be available to him,” Crowley said.
He added that U.S. financial sanctions are also “under active review” by the Obama administration.
“Obviously, one of the things that is being looked at is sources of funding for the government to continue to function,” he said.
The United Nations mission in Côte d’Ivoire, led by Y.J. Choi, certified Ouattara as the winner of the country’s presidential election. Gbagbo has reportedly demanded that the 9,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force withdraw from the country.
On December 20, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution to extend the force’s mandate until June 30, 2011.
“We see the presence of U.N. forces as a stabilizing influence,” Crowley said. “That’s why we, along with others, supported the renewal of the U.N. mandate.”