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Ivory Coast travel warning - US

05 December 2010, 20:38

Washington - The US State Department warned Americans on Saturday to avoid travel to the Ivory Coast, warning of an "increased probability of political unrest and potential violence" following elections.

"The Department of State recommends that US citizens avoid any travel to Cote d'Ivoire at this time," it said, using the French name for the west African country.

It said airports and borders were closed "amid rising tension in the aftermath of the second round of presidential elections".

"US citizens currently in Cote d'Ivoire are advised to limit their movements and exercise extreme caution," it said.

"Because of the increased probability of political unrest and potential violence, it is especially important for US citizens residing in Cote d'Ivoire to maintain situational awareness and limit their movements."

The warning came as rival candidates - Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara -- in the second round November 28 elections each declared themselves president.

As Gbagbo's allies hung the chain of office around his neck at a ceremony, ex-prime minister Alassane Ouattara, backed as election winner by the United Nations, swore himself in as president in a handwritten letter.

UN says Ouattara winner

UN-certified results from last Sunday's run-off vote showed Ouattara as the winner, but Gbagbo's high court allies overturned them by annulling allegedly rigged ballots in parts of the north, his rival's stronghold.

The United Nations, the European Union and others have recognized Ouattara as Ivory Coast's new president.

In its travel warning, the US State Department said "demonstrations are very likely, and the possibility that these can turn violent cannot be ruled out."

"Security conditions within the country, and particularly in the north and in the west, can deteriorate quickly and without warning," it added, noting that "when land routes to neighbouring countries are open, overland travel to Liberia and Guinea is strongly discouraged, and caution is urged when crossing into Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana."



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