US Approves Sanctions Against Ivory Coast's Gbagbo


The United States approved travel sanctions on Laurent Gbagbo and 30 of his allies Tuesday as pressure mounted on the incumbent leader to step down following last month's presidential election that the international community says he lost.

Meanwhile, the U.N. refugee agency said that some 6,200 people already have fled the West African country's postelection violence, and regional leaders called on Gbagbo to ""yield power with dignity without further delay.""

The rebuke from neighboring nations carries added weight because Gbagbo's representatives have dismissed similar calls from former colonizer France and other Western nations as foreign interference.

The regional bloc, ECOWAS, also said Gbagbo's weekend demand that thousands of U.N. peacekeepers leave the volatile country ""would further heighten tensions and worsen the plight of the vulnerable.""

The U.N. has certified Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the Nov. 28 vote, and Gbagbo on Saturday ordered the nearly 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers leave immediately. The U.N. has refused to do so, and a Security Council resolution adopted unanimously Monday extended the force's mandate until June 30, 2011.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has authorized travel sanctions against members of Gbagbo's government, a U.S. official said Tuesday.