Ivory Coast's presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara said he will extend indefinitely a one-month ban on cocoa exports if his rival does not leave power by the end of that period next week.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Ouattara, widely recognised as the winner of the November presidential election, was quoted as saying he was committed to continue using economic sanctions to force incumbent Laurent Gbagbo from office.

If Mr Gbagbo leaves, of course the ban will be removed. But if he stays on, I just think the ban will continue, Ouattara said.

Electoral commission results certified by the U.N. showed Ouattara won the November 28 poll by an 8-point margin, and he has broad international recognition, but Gbagbo has refused to step down and retains control of the military.

Ouattara remains holed up in a hotel under U.N. guard while Gbagbo controls the main institutions, including the ports.

Ouattara imposed a one-month ban on cocoa exports on January 23, but fears that he may extend it have helped push cocoa futures to one-year highs.

The ban is on exports... The exporting companies should continue to stock them, Ouattara told the newspaper.

Cocoa can be stored for a long time. Clearly Mr Gbagbo will be out well before the cocoa starts getting rotten.