BRUSSELS: The European Union on Monday decided to slap visa bans on 19 Ivorians including incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo, who is clinging onto power, diplomats said.
The measures will take 24 to 48 hours before coming into force, the sources said.
A decision to freeze assets for the 19 will be taken separately.
The international community has stepped up pressure on Gbagbo to leave since his forces cracked down on supporters of his rival Alassane Ouattara, who has been recognized worldwide as the winner of the West African nation’s presidential vote on November 28.
President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, the country’s former colonial power, gave Gbagbo until Sunday to go to avoid being put on an EU list of Ivorians targeted with visa bans and asset freezes.
Gbagbo instead ordered UN peacekeepers to leave the country, stirring fears the fragile state might plunge back into chaos.
The United Nations has refused the order to stand down its 10,000-strong UNOCI force, and its chief human rights official has accused Gbagbo’s security forces of involvement in dozens of alleged kidnappings and murders.
The United States and Canada have threatened sanctions, while the African Union and Ivory Coast’s West African neighbours in the ECOWAS economic bloc have demanded Gbagbo step down.
In a statement at an EU summit, the bloc’s 27 leaders urged Gbagbo to quit office, threatening sanctions and penal action, while telling army chiefs to defect.
Their statement "called on all Ivorian leaders, both civilian and military who have not yet done so, to place themselves under the authority of the democratically elected President, Mr Alassane Ouattara."
The statement confirmed the EU’s determination to take "targeted restrictive measures" against those "who would continue to obstruct the respect of the sovereign will expressed by the Ivorian people."
A list obtained by AFP contains the names of close staff, military chiefs or the heads of the West African nation’s controversial media.
Names cited by diplomatic sources included Gbagbo’s security advisor Kadet Berlin, the secretary-general of the presidency Desire Tagro and the president of the Constitutional Council Yao N’Dre.
Also on the list of names were: Pascal Affi N’Guessan, secretary general of the Ivorian Popular Front and the director-general of the country’s RTI radio and television authority Pierre Israel Amessan Brou.
Bodyguard to Gbagbo’s powerful wife Simone, Captain Anselme Seka Yapo, was also named as a target.
Others included the head of the national audiovisual board, the CNCA, Frank Anderson Kouassi, the head of the CECOS security operations centre General Guiai Bi Poin and the head of the Republican Guard General Dogbo Ble.
The deputy chief of staff of the Ivorian navy, Admiral Vagba Faussignau, was also there along with the head of the presidency security grouping, Lieutenant-Colonel Nathanael Ahouman Brouha.