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France recalls ambassador accused of sexism from Ivory Coast

20 Sep 2020 / 09:18 H.

PARIS: France has recalled its ambassador to Ivory Coast amid allegations of sexist behaviour, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

“He has been recalled to Paris amid an ongoing administrative investigation,“ a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

According to French online news site Mediapart, at least five women have accused Gilles Huberson, who has been in his Abidjan post since Sept 2017, of sexist behaviour towards them.

The diplomat’s recall comes just as Ivory Coast faces an October 31 election in which incumbent Alassane Ouattara is seeking a controversial third term, raising fears of more poll violence.

Recent protests against his candidacy left some 15 people dead last month and there have also been several demonstrations.

An informed source said the ambassador’s recall was not “political” in nature but related to alleged “sexist words and gestures”.

“The minister has called for an administrative enquiry” into claims against Huberson and “decided on his recall (last) Monday. Nobody is protected,“ said another source close to the investigation.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian put in place two years ago a ministry complaints and advice unit dubbed “zero tolerance” for employees suffering sexism and sexist violence.

The unit has reportedly interviewed the women allegedly targeted by the ambassador.

Interior Minister Gerland Darmanin has faced accusations of sexual misconduct after the rising star of the French centre right was accused in 2018 of sexual coercion and harassment by two women relating to alleged misconduct which he denies. — AFP

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