Ivory Coast President-Elect Expects Military Help

by
staphni
"(CNN)
Ivory Coast's President-elect Alassane Ouattara is ""confident"" that military action to remove self-declared President Laurent Gbagbo is on its way, he told CNN Thursday.

Ouattara said he expects the regional group the Economic Community of West African States to intervene in the situation. But he doesn't think such military intervention will lead to civil war, he added.

The cocoa-producing West African nation was plunged into crisis after Ouattara was declared the winner of the November presidential runoff election, but Gbagbo, the incumbent, refused to leave office.

Ouattara told CNN Thursday that he welcomes a proposal for face-to-face negotiations with Gbagbo -- on the condition that Gbagbo recognizes Ouattara as president.Ouattara also denied claims from the Gbagbo camp that there are 300 rebel troops with him. He concedes that he has some military with him, but says they are his security guards from when he was prime minister, and that the contingent is smaller than 300. Ivory Coast crisis: What's at stake? Ouattara remains holed up in a posh waterfront hotel under the protection of United Nations peacekeepers. Gbagbo had previously promised to remove a military blockade he placed around the Golf Hotel, but those troops are still there.

The United Nations said Wednesday it would ask the Security Council to approve up to 2,000 more troops to help ensure the presidency for Ouattara.

Alain Le Roy, the under-secretary-general for U.N. peacekeeping, said after a Security Council briefing that he was worried ""we are facing more difficulties"" in Ivory Coast.

Stalemate rooted in years of conflict As the political standoff continued, the top U.S. diplomat on Africa said Gbagbo had ""stolen"" the vote that removed him from office.

""There is no question but that the election in the Ivory Coast was stolen by President Gbagbo and those around him,"" Assistant Secretary of State