, ABIDJAN, Jan 26 – One of Ivory Coast\’s two presidents, Laurent Gbagbo, on Wednesday ordered the requisition of branches of a regional bank holding some of the country\’s assets, but his rival said they were closed.
A decree signed by Gbagbo, who refuses to quit after being declared loser of November elections, said Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) branches were to be requisitioned to ensure they continued to offer "usual services".
Troops loyal to Gbagbo were posted outside the bank\’s main office in Abidjan for a second day Wednesday, with an armoured pick-up truck parked in front, an AFP journalist said.
Rival president Alassane Ouattara replied in a statement that the order was "illegitimate and illegal, and so null and void" and announced instead that the branches were closed.
Ouattara was declared the winner of the November 28 vote by the national election commission, a decision accepted by the United Nations and several countries despite being overturned in Gbagbo\’s favour by a constitutional council.
Gbagbo\’s decree follows the resignation on Saturday of the Ivorian governor of the Dakar-based bank, his ally Philippe-Henry Dacoury-Tabley, forced out by the member states of the West African Economic and Monetary Union.
Dacoury-Tabley was accused of not respecting a decision taken in December by finance ministers from the bank\’s seven other member states to give Ouattara control of Ivory Coast\’s assets lodged with the bank.
Since that decision, the bank had paid out between 60 and 100 billion CFA francs (91 to 152 million euros, 124 to 206 million dollars) to Gbagbo\’s regime.