Ivorian rival Ouattara tells Gbagbo to leave

The man widely recognised as winner of Ivory Coast's disputed presidential poll has said incumbent Laurent Gbagbo must concede power to allow for talks.

A spokesman for Alassane Ouattara said he did not oppose dialogue but no talks could take place until he was recognised as president by everyone.

The African Union has suspended Ivory Coast while Mr Gbagbo stays in office.

The election was intended to reunite the world's largest cocoa producer after a civil war in 2002.

Ivory Coast's electoral commission has declared that Mr Ouattara won the 28 November run-off election by 54.1% to 45.9%.

But the political stalemate shows no sign of ending soon, the BBC's John James reports.

Mr Ouattara has appointed a new prime minister, ex-rebel Guillaume Soro, and has said he will start work in his official office next week.

But the building is still under the control of Mr Gbagbo.

Pay day factor

With both Mr Gbagbo and Mr Ouattara having taken oaths of office and appointed governments, Mr Ouattara's administration is currently under UN protection at a hotel in the city of Abidjan.

Image caption UN soldiers continue to guard Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan

Mr Gbagbo has the support of several leading generals and control of state television. One of his key allies also controls the country's constitutional council, which overturned the election results saying large numbers of votes cast in the north, Mr Ouattara's home regions, were fraudulent.

On Thursday, Mr Gbagbo said he was open to negotiation. But he refused offers to go into exile and seems to want some kind of power-sharing deal, an option the opposition rejects outright, our correspondent says.

The crisis has hit the Ivorian economy hard and economics may eventually tip the balance in Mr Ouattara's favour, if the government struggles to pay workers salaries, our correspondent says.

That will especially be the case if the West African central bank hands over control of the Ivorian accounts to Mr Ouattara - something he has asked for.

Sanctions against members of Mr Gbagbo's regime are also being threatened in the coming days by the US and Europe, which would further prove to undecided members of the army just how isolated Mr Gbagbo is on the world stage, our correspondent adds.

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