Abidjan (AFP) Dec 9, 2010
The administration challenging Laurent Gbagbo for the presidency of Ivory Coast demanded in a statement Thursday that the national military recognise his rival Alassane Ouattara as head of state.
"The government demands that the Security and Defence Forces carry out their republican mission under President Alassane Ouattara, the supreme chief of the armed forces," said the rival government named by Ouattara.
"The government reminds them that they have a great responsibility regarding a peaceful resolution to this post-electoral crisis and knows it can count on their sense of republican duty."
It also demanded "all state officials and agents... to stop working with Laurent Gbagbo's illegitimate government immediately and wait for instructions from Prime Minister Guillaume Soro," it added.
Soro is former rebel whom Ouattara has named as head of his cabinet after last month's disputed polls.
The call intensified efforts by Ouattara's camp to squeeze Gbagbo, who faces growing isolation amid pressure to step down from major international powers including the UN Security Council and the African Union.
Ouattara's side earlier said it aimed to make "effective" its authority in Ivory Coast this week, but Gbagbo has not yet formally responded and Ivorians were waiting anxiously for his next move.
Gbagbo has been in power for the past 10 years, remaining president after his term expired in 2005 as elections were postponed six times. The second-round runoff was finally held on November 28.
The electoral commission results, endorsed by the United Nations, gave Ouattara victory, but Gbagbo's allies overturned them, alleging irregularities. Both men then declared themselves president.
"Despite numerous calls for the former head of state Laurent Gbagbo to respect the results of the ballots and quit power peacefully... he persists in his will to maintain power whatever the cost," said the statement, issued after the latest meeting of Soro and his cabinet.
"We are well and truly witnessing a true institutional coup d'etat," it alleged.
earlier related report
The frank assessment by the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Johnnie Carson, was among the latest revelations in thousands of documents released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
"China is a very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals. China is not in Africa for altruistic reasons," Carson said in a February meeting with oil executives in Nigeria.
"China is in Africa for China primarily," he said, according to a confidential February 23 cable written by the US consul-general in Lagos.
Carson said another reason was to "secure votes in the United Nations from African countries" to forward China's own aims, and also to depress diplomatic support for its rival Taiwan.
Beijing had pumped a total of 9.3 billion dollars into Africa by the end of 2009, according to the China-Africa Trade and Economic Relationship Annual Report 2010, launched in October by a government-linked research institute.
Investment in the continent reached 1.44 billion dollars in 2009 alone, compared with 220 million dollars in 2000, the report said, reflecting China's growing interest in Africa's resources to fuel its fast-growing economy.
More than 1,600 Chinese businesses are investing in Africa in the mining, processing, commerce, agriculture, construction and manufacturing sectors, state media has said, citing the commerce ministry.
China has been criticised by the West for its support of hardline leaders such as Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, but many African leaders praise Beijing for not preaching to them over human rights.
"The United States will continue to push democracy and capitalism while Chinese authoritarian capitalism is politically challenging," Carson said.
Beijing pursues a "contrarian" approach by dealing with the "Mugabes and Bashirs of the world", he said.
Beijing reiterated earlier this week that it hoped the ongoing revelations from the cables leaked by WikiLeaks would not affect ties with the United States.
The Chinese foreign ministry had no immediate comment Thursday on the details of the messages on China's policies in Africa. It has thus far refused to comment on the specifics of the documents involving Beijing.
Carson said the United States had "trip wires" in terms of China's presence in Africa.
"Is China developing a blue-water navy? Have they signed military base agreements? Are they training armies? Have they developed intelligence operations?" he said.
"Once these areas start developing, then the United States will start worrying," he said, though noting for the time being, Washington did not perceive China as a "military, security or intelligence threat".
Another cable sent by the US ambassador to Kenya on February 17 said Nairobi had received weapons and ammunition from China in support of its "Jubaland initiative", referring to a Somali border province.
The east African state has also received telecoms and computer equipment from China for its intelligence services, the memo said.
The cable says a Chinese telecoms firm was granted a contract for landline monitoring equipment with the help of corrupt officials, one of whom received monthly payments of more than 5,000 dollars used to pay "medical bills".
Le Monde identified the Chinese company as ZTE. The name of the company has been redacted out of the cable that appears on the WikiLeaks site.
ZTE and its Chinese rival Huawei have been trying to boost their presence in the United States, despite opposition from US lawmakers concerned about possible threats to national security.
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