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Gbagbo seizes electricity supply

Ivory Coast's incumbent leader has seized the nation's electric company and its distribution centre.

The latest move comes a day after Laurent Gbagbo's allies took over the regional central bank's offices in an attempt to retain their access to state coffers.

The national electricity company issued a statement on Thursday saying its central distribution centre had been seized by Mr Gbagbo's government for reasons of national security.

Mr Gbagbo, who the international community says lost November's presidential election, has refused to give up power.

His opponent, Alassane Ouattara, was certified the election winner by the United Nations, but remains confined to a luxury hotel by security forces loyal to Mr Gbagbo.

In a statement, the Central Bank of West African States protested against Mr Gbagbo's decision to take over its operations in Ivory Coast, calling the move "a flagrant violation of international agreements".

The bank ordered all its offices in the country to be closed until further notice.

Soldiers and military police surrounded the bank's headquarters in the capital, Abidjan, on Wednesday.

Local press reports said safes at the bank were opened and that the cash stores on the premises were seized, though these accounts could not be independently verified.

While bank employees were ordered to report to work on Thursday, computer networks with the outside had been cut, preventing Mr Gbagbo's allies from being able to access funds, local press reports said.

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