ABIDJAN - The tension is rising a notch Saturday between Ivory Coast and the former French colonial power after the decision of the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to withdraw the accreditation of the Ambassador of France in Abidjan, a new episode the post-election crisis born of Ivorian presidential elections of 28 November.
"We terminated the accreditation of the Ambassador of France in Cote d'Ivoire. It is now considered unemployed, a French citizen, ordinary, no longer a partner for us," said to AFP spokesman Gbagbo government, Ahoua Don Mello.
This decision is considered "null and void and without legal effect," replied the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.
The Ambassador of France, Jean-Marc Simon, 63, had submitted July 7, 2009 his credentials to President Gbagbo.
The withdrawal decision was taken in response to "a note verbale from the ministry (French) Foreign indicating they had accredited as Ambassador Ali Coulibaly of Ivory Coast in France," said Don Mello.
Mr. Coulibaly was appointed by Alassane Ouattara, the other president proclaimed and recognized as legitimate only by France and almost all of the international community, urging Gbagbo to leave.
"Like the rest of the international community, France unreservedly acknowledges Mr. Ouattara as president," and "the legitimacy of statements made by his government or on behalf of his government," said Foreign Ministry in a statement.
"In contrast, positions and statements allegedly made on behalf of Côte d'Ivoire by those who do not draw the consequences of the results of presidential elections are illegal and illegitimate by France," it said.
Gbagbo camp has already sent in early January the British and Canadian ambassadors, following the withdrawal by both countries of accreditation of ambassadors Ivorian. The decision had also been rejected by London and Ottawa.
This new episode a little aggravating the already strained relations between Paris and the Gbagbo camp, whose deterioration began in the Ivorian crisis erupted in September 2002 before a peak in 2004.
France "s? Ingests the worst way. All resolutions that take place on the Cote d? Ivoire to? UN c? Is France who wrote the + draft + (Draft)", said the end of December Laurent Gbagbo in an interview with the Euronews television channel.
Mid-January at a rally in support of the camp of her husband, Simone Gbagbo described the French President Nicolas Sarkozy of "devil".
He had a mid-December, addressed - in vain - an ultimatum to Mr. Gbagbo to abandon his post within 48 hours.
There were about 14,000 French nationals, including half of bi-national, in Côte d'Ivoire before the post-election violence that have been 260 deaths since mid-December according to the UN.
France will have a military force of about 900 men, whose departure has been asked by Mr Gbagbo.
The latter has also suffered a blow Saturday with the resignation of one of his relatives, the Governor of the Central Bank of the States of West Africa (BCEAO), the Ivorian Philip Henry Dacoury-Tabley.
It was alleged that Mr Dacoury-Tabley not having implemented a decision of the Finance Ministers of the UEMOA (Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa), taken December 23, to give Alassane Ouattara, Gbagbo recognized by the international community, all powers to manage on behalf of his country's affairs related to this institution and the BCEAO.
However, 60 to 100 billion CFA francs (91.5 to 152,400,000 euros) were disbursed by the BCEAO in favor of the Gbagbo regime since then.