Ivory Coast’s disputed president Laurent Gbagbo is under growing pressure from within Africa to relinquish power.
The head of the African Union Malawite Bingu wa Mutharika said Gbagbo should ‘respect the will of the people expressed at the ballot box’ and stand down to avoid ‘a bloodbath.’
The West African bloc ECOWAS has done the same, recognising Alassane Ouattara as the rightful winner of the presidential election.
Ouattara has formed a parallel cabinet at a highly protected hotel in Abidjan.
With two administrations in an already divided country, Ouattara spoke to defuse the potential for conflict saying: “I’ve done everything I can these last few days to ease tensions.”
The risk of renewed violence has prompted the United Nations to begin withdrawing some of its staff.
French schools in Abidjan though have reopened, and pupils have gone back to class.
One parent said: “We’ve been reassured all along, and we think that nothing untoward will happen to foreigners this time.”
The International Red Cross reckons 28 people have been killed and a further 280 wounded in violence since the election at the end of November.