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Angola backs Ivorian leader Ouattara

March 23, 2011 at 12:47 PM

LUANDA, Angola, March 23 (UPI) -- Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo faces diminishing clout as the government in Angola said it was reversing course and backing his rival Alassane Ouattara.

Angola in January said the United Nations was wrong to recognize Ouattara as the winner of a November election meant to unite a country divided by civil war in 2002.

Angolan Foreign Minister George Chikoty told a state-funded broadcaster, however, that the government was now throwing its support behind Ouattara, a move that is in step with the African Union, Bloomberg News reports.

An AU panel last week ruled that an Ivorian constitutional panel overstepped its authority by stripping Ouattara of a victory. The United States, European Union and others recognize Ouattara as the president of Ivory Coast.

Officials with the U.N. World Food Program told the BBC political violence in Ivory Coast is all-but forgotten as world attention focuses on the war in Libya and revolutions sweeping across much of the Arab world.

U.N. officials estimate more than 400 people were killed and 500,000 were displaced since the November election. A WFP spokesman said the agency has "no funding" for Ivory Coast.

U.N. agencies have warned for months that Ivory Coast as on the verge of civil war. Louise Arbour, the president of the International Crisis Group, wrote in a Tuesday letter to African leaders that civil war "has already begun."

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