Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, 2007

ABUJA (Reuters) – The West African regional bloc ECOWAS called on the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to adopt strict sanctions against Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo and bolster the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping mission there.

“(ECOWAS) requests the U.N. Security Council to strengthen the mandate of the U.N. operation in Ivory Coast enabling the mission to use all necessary means to protect life and property and to facilitate the immediate transfer of power to Mr Alassane Ouattara,” it said in a communique.

“(It) also requests the U.N. Security Council to adopt more stringent international targeted sanctions against Mr Laurent Gbagbo and his associates.” Ouattara was the U.N.-certified winner of a November presidential election. Incumbent Gbagbo refused to recognise that result, saying it was rigged, and the West African country has lurched towards civil war.

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