A top ally of the man widely recognized as Ivory Coast's president said incumbent Laurent Gbagbo is using stalling tactics to stay in power and urged the international community on Saturday to intervene with "legitimate force" to remove him.
Meanwhile, Gbagbo supporters who were called on to remove Alassane Ouattara from the Golf Hotel on New Year's morning failed to materialize as United Nations Bangladeshi riot police guarded the hotel's entryway in full crowd-control attire.
Ouattara's Prime Minister, Guillaume Soro, told the Associated Press on Saturday that Gbagbo would only leave power by force and that the international community will have to intervene to protect democracy in Africa. He dismissed Gbagbo's offer to invite an international investigation into the country as a delay tactic.
"It was this same type of distracting proposition that he used to hold on for five years without an election," Soro said. "Enough is enough. Mr. Gbagbo must leave power."
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who also holds the rotating presidency of the Economic Community of West African States, is due in Abidjan on Monday to negotiate Gbagbo's departure. ECOWAS threatened to use military force to remove Gbagbo if he doesn't leave freely, but failed to persuade him to go into exile when its first delegation came to Ivory Coast last Monday.
The U.N. has said the volatile West African nation once divided in two faces a real risk of return to civil war, but Soro said this war has already begun.