Defeated president to seize banks
Five major international banks including Britain's Standard Chartered face being nationalised and their cash seized by Ivory Coast's sitting president, who has refused to step down after losing an election.
Laurent Gbagbo's government cannot pay civil servants' salaries because the West African regional central bank refuses to honour his signature.
Instead, he plans to take over the assets and branches of major banks and pay February's state salaries directly, Mr Gbagbo's spokesman said.
Paramilitary forces were deployed along the Avenue des Banques in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, yesterday as most major outlets remained closed.
Together the affected companies hold the majority of government workers' accounts, and the closures threaten to deepen a three-month crisis sparked following the disputed polls.
Standard Chartered, France's Societe Generale and BNP Paribas, Citibank of the US and Nigeria's Access Bank have all closed their branches across the country in the past week, citing security concerns. (© Daily Telegraph, London)