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CÔTE D’IVOIRE: UN Will Robustly Fulfil Mandate To Protect Civilians

Posted by Business in Ghana on January 6, 2011

Source: UN Report

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire will “robustly” fulfil its mandate, breaking through roadblocks if needed, to protect civilians and the “legitimate Government” after the outgoing president’s refusal to step down in the face of his rival’s internationally recognised electoral victory, a top UN official warned today.

Decrying a campaign of lies, hatred and incitement against the mission, known by its acronym UNOCI, especially from the state broadcasting authority under the control of Laurent Gbagbo, who was defeated in November’s run-off poll by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy insisted on the peacekeepers’ right to freedom of movement.

“We will ensure firmly, if someone obstructs us, that we cross through roadblocks because it is inadmissible that anybody prevent us from protecting civilians,” he told a news conference in Abidjan, the country’s commercial capital, attributing attacks on UN personnel and the deaths of at least 173 civilians in street violence to the campaign of incitement. He said UNOCI was increasing its patrols day and night in Abidjan and reinforcing its systems of alert and liaison.

He noted, however, that defence and security forces chief of staff General Philippe Mangou had assured him that there would be no further blocking of UNOCI’s freedom of movement and that UN vehicles are now able to take the road to Abidjan’s Golf Hotel, where Mr. Ouattara has taken up residence in the face of Mr. Gbagbo’s refusal to vacate the presidential palace.

He noted, too, a reduction in attacks against civilians compared with last week. “So we see some signs of improvement, but the situation is very tense and the improvement of the past few days, nobody can promise that they will sustain it for many days or weeks, but we hope they will,” he said. “We are determined to have our freedom of movement respected.”

After the UN certified Mr. Ouattara as the victor in the electoral run-off, Mr. Gbagbo demanded the departure of UNOCI, which been supporting efforts over the past seven years to reunify the West African country, split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north. The election was meant to be a culminating point in the process.

The Security Council last week unanimously rebuffed the demand, renewed the nearly 9,000-strong force for another six months, foreshadowed a possible increase, threatened sanctions against those imperilling peace and stressed its mandate to protect civilians.

It was those points that Mr. Le Roy highlighted today, underscoring the UN’s total impartiality in certifying Mr. Ouattara’s victory in accordance with its mandate and noting that the mission is “living through difficult circumstances,” though he noted that Mr. Gbagbo has said he wants to use diplomatic, not military means to achieve UNOCI’s departure.

“To accuse us of partiality is absurd when we are fulfilling a mandate requested (in 2005) by President Gbagbo himself and the African Union and the Security Council,” he said. “There are a very great number of lying accusations against UNOCI and they are seeking to manipulate the population against UNOCI…

“These declarations that we hear worry us, more exactly appall us because they clearly incite the population to turn against UNOCI, they incite towards hatred,” he added, citing “lies” that the UN is transporting men and equipment for the rebels.

He referred to yesterday’s attack by a large crowd on a three-vehicle UN convoy in which one soldier was slashed with a machete and a vehicle set on fire. Calm was restored when Gen. Mangou intervened and today Mr. Le Roy hailed him for preventing “a bloodbath.”

Earlier today Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held another video-conference with Mr. Le Roy and his Special Representative in Côte d’Ivoire Y. J. Choi, before receiving the credentials of Mr. Ouattara’s representative, Youssoufou Bamba, as the country’s new Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, in line with a unanimous General Assembly ruling last week.

Mr. Ban also spoke by telephone with President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, who briefed him on the recent Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) mission to Côte d’Ivoire by Presidents Yayi Boni of Benin, Pedro Pires of Cape Verde and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone. The two agreed to stay in close contact in the coming days, including on the outcome of the next ECOWAS visit of the three presidents on 3 January.

Yesterday Mr. Le Roy visited Bouaké, in the rebel-held north where he conferred with local commanders and reiterated that UNOCI’s mandate entails “ensuring the protection of civilians, personalities, including elected President Alassane Ouattara and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, as well as the Golf Hotel.”


One Response to “CÔTE D’IVOIRE: UN Will Robustly Fulfil Mandate To Protect Civilians”

  1. Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe said

    Stop the French-instigated invasion of Côte d’Ivoire

    Dear Friends

    We are, once again, faced with an impending invasion and wanton destruction of human lives with the French-instigated invasion of Cote d’Ivoire – an independent African country. We, Citizens for a Conflict-Free Africa, are circulating a petition to stop this action. Link and text of the petition are below.

    We are asking for your support in a number of ways:

    1. Please sign the petition and pass the word around

    2. Obtaining a court order staying the hand of France and the ECOMOG troops from invading Cote d’Ivoire and the resulting death and destruction

    3. Raising the pro-peaceful resolution of these disputed elections and the rejection of war/invasion/conflict as a viable solution

    Thank you for your support

    The French are planning the invasion of Côte d’Ivoire, an independent African country, by using the dispensable African ECOMOG contingent whose leaders themselves are largely beneficiaries of disputed/rigged elections. France intends to finance and provide the logistics for the invasion – but does not intend to use its own troops as this would be political suicide for the government of Nicolas Sarkozy. France claims that Alassane Ouattara as opposed to Laurent Gbagbo is the rightful winner of the recent elections. Clearly there is a dispute as to the outcome to these national elections. This is not new to Africa. All elections (probably with the exception of Botswana, Ghana, Senegal [2000] and South Africa) are rigged and heavily disputed. So why wasn’t Kenya invaded, or Nigeria, or Zimbabwe or, most recently, Egypt all of which have had disputed/rigged elections? And when will Myanmar be invaded to install Aung San Suu Kyi.? Why have we still not learnt as a human race to avoid such levels of hypocrisy and suffering? The result of this invasion will be catastrophic to the region. Internally in Côte d’Ivoire there will be huge human suffering, the destruction of towns and villages and the displacement of communities. Additionally there are millions of other Africans across this west region (from Senegal to Cameroon) who live and work in Côte d’Ivoire – all of whom will be displaced, intensifying the levels of suffering in the entire region. All of this will have huge impacts on already stretched countries – Liberia, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Ghana. Here in the West we will once again be subjected to pictures of dying Africans and emergency appeals. This cannot be allowed to happen. All this is preventable. France must not be allowed to be instigators of the deaths of millions of Africans by Africans. This invasion must be stopped. The people of Côte d’Ivoire need to settle their own disputes, using their own internal resources and other African mediation however long it takes them. Côte d’Ivoire is NOT part of France. France must stop this continuous, potentially murderous interference in the affairs of African countries.

    Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe

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