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EU Freezes Ivory Coast President’s Assets, Extends Travel Ban

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union froze the assets of Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters and broadened a ban on travel to the EU in the latest bid to pressure the Ivory Coast president to step down.

The bloc applied sanctions on Gbagbo, his wife and 17 other Ivory Coast officials last month for refusing to cede power after a November election won by opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara. The EU, the U.S., the African Union and the United Nations all recognize Ouattara as the legitimate leader of the West African nation.

The EU took additional measures on Jan. 14, announcing a freeze on the assets of the Ivory Coast’s cocoa-exporting and coffee-exporting ports, state oil company and refiner, energy company, national broadcaster and three banks that are “helping to fund the illegitimate government of Laurent Gbagbo.”

The latest measures apply to people who are “obstructing the process of peace and national reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire and in particular those who are jeopardizing the proper outcome of the electoral process, as well as against legal persons, entities or bodies owned or controlled by such persons and persons, entities or bodies acting on their behalf or at their direction,” the 27-nation EU said in the Official Journal on Jan. 15.

Ouattara, 69, has called for the use of force to oust Gbagbo, 65, who has ruled the world’s top cocoa producer for a decade and cites electoral-fraud allegations during the Nov. 28 vote. The post-election stalemate has left 247 people dead and forced thousands to flee their homes, according to the UN.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer M. Freedman in Geneva at jfreedman@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net.

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