Switzerland seizes Gbagbo's assets

Switzerland says it has frozen all the assets held there by Ivory Coast's disputed leader Laurent Gbagbo.

The foreign minister said the move would prevent Switzerland's financial centre from serving as a refuge for any possible "illegally-obtained assets own by Gbagbo and his entourage".

Mr Gbagbo is refusing to hand over power to Alassane Ouattara, widely seen as the winner of November's elections.

Latest mediation efforts ended with no breakthrough, Kenya's PM said.

Raila Odinga was speaking after late night talks with Mr Gbagbo and also Mr Outtara in Abidjan.

West African military leaders have been meeting in Mali to discuss a possible military intervention.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council approved additional 2,000 peacekeepers for Ivory Coast to bolster the 9,800-strong UN contingent.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the UN peacekeepers were facing "an openly hostile security environment" in the west African country, with threats coming from forces loyal to Mr Gbagbo.

'Quick move'

Speaking in Bern on Wednesday, Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said the government "decided to block any possible funds of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo with immediate effect".

Ms Calmy-Rey, who is also currently serving as Switzerland's president, said the EU had already blocked Mr Gbagbo's assets.

She said that it was therefore "important that Switzerland came quickly to a decision" to prevent any funds being transferred to Switzerland - which is not an EU member - as a result of the move by Brussels.

The freeze of Mr Gbagbo's assets would last three years, she added.

The presidential election in November was supposed to reunify Ivory Coast, divided since a 2002 civil war.

The country's electoral commission said Mr Ouattara had won - a position backed by the UN mission in Ivory Coast, which helped organise the poll.

But Mr Gbagbo's supporters said that the New Forces rebels who control the north had rigged the poll in favour of Mr Ouattara.

The Constitutional Council, headed by an ally of Mr Gbagbo, then annulled votes in these areas and declared Mr Gbagbo the winner.

BBC online, Jan. 19th, 2011

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