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France recalls ambassador accused of sexism from Ivory Coast

By AFP

Added 19th September 2020 09:22 PM

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

France recalls ambassador accused of sexism from Ivory Coast

In this file photo taken on May 20, 2019 French Ambassador to Abidjan Gilles Huberson (L) stands by French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner after their meeting with the Ivorian President at his residence in Abidjan. (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP)

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

DIPLOMACY   SEXISM

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 September 2017, of sexist behaviour towards them.

The diplomat's recall comes just as Ivory Coast faces an October 31 election where 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 recall was not "political" in nature but related to "sexist words and gestures".

The Huberson case is only the latest in a series of high-profile personalities becoming embroiled in sexual misconduct cases recently.

Interior Minister Gerald 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.

There was also controversy three months ago when Roman Polanski was given a Cesars academy award for "An Officer and a Spy".

The film director is still wanted in the US for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977 while he has since had to deny several claims of sexual assault.

"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.

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