Geneva, Dec 26: Airport authorities in Basel have confiscated the airplane of Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president of Ivory Coast, media reports in Switzerland said Sunday.
According to an initial report on NZZ Online, the block on letting the presidential plane return to West Africa was being done at the request of France and Gbagbo’s presidential rival, Alassane Ouattara.
Basel airport is jointly operated by Switzerland and France. A Swiss official confirmed only that the presidential plane was indeed on the airfield, but provided no further details.
Ouattara is the man the world sees as the rightful winner of last month’s presidential polls in the West African state. But Gbagbo is refusing to hand over power.
West African leaders last week warned that they could use “legitimate force” to oust Gbagbo, after they cut off his funding.
The country, which in 2002 went through a brutal civil war, was plunged into violence following the election. The United Nations says more than 170 people have died since December 16 and thousands are fleeing the country. –(DPA)