As regional efforts failed to convince the Ivory Coast's incumbent President, Laurent Gbagbo, to leave office after election results which the vast majority of international observers say should have ousted him, the European Union quietly ratcheted up the pressure with increased sanctions.
An original declaration, on 17 December 2010, of restrictive measures was followed by an announcement, on 22 December, that Gbagbo and 18 of his closest supporters would be subject to restrictions on their travel to Europe. On 31 December, the visa ban was extended to a further 59 pro-Gbagbo Ivorians.
Despite international support for the apparent winner of the 28 November presidential elections, Alassane Ouattara, Gbagbo has refused to step down. Current regional efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) appeared to have stalled, on 4 January. They had been in talks to allow Gbagbo a "dignified exit" from the crisis without too prominent an influence from the wider international community. But lead negotiator and ECOWAS head, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, left separate talks with Gbagbo and Outtara saying "there is still a stalemate".
The shuttle diplomacy between the two rival politicians, three West African presidents and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga were a last-ditch attempt at avoiding a forcible removal of the former president, which many feared could spark wider violence in the country. The deal offered to Gbagbo, which essentially amounted to a choice between amnesty or ousting, reportedly included the right to stay in Ivory Coast with the...