Obama backs opposition leader Ouattara as Ivory Coast's president
President Barack Obama late Friday confirmed the United States' recognition of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara as the rightful leader of the Ivory Coast after disputed elections last year, calling on President Laurent Gbagbo to step down, dpa reported.
"Last year's election was free and fair and President Alassane Ouattara is the democratically elected leader of the nation," Obama said in a video message posted to the White House blog.
He said the country was at a "crossroads" with Gbagbo being forced to choose between ongoing violence and following the will of the people.
France and Nigeria submitted on Friday a draft resolution to the UN Security Council demanding the resignation of Gbagbo and UN sanctions targeted at him and his closest advisers.
Ivory Coast was plunged into turmoil when Gbagbo refused to cede power to his rival Ouattara after November elections the UN and other international observers say the president lost.
"You have a proud past from gaining your independence to overcoming civil war, now you have the opportunity to realize your future," Obama said in addressing the people of the African nation. "You deserve a future of hope not fear, you deserve leaders like President Ouattara, who can restore your country's rightful place in the world."
Obama had congratulated Ouattara shortly after the vote on his victory and the US has placed a travel on Gbagbo and his associates.