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UN chief warns of 'real risk' of Ivory Coast civil war

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default UN chief warns of 'real risk' of Ivory Coast civil war

Post by Mr007 on Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:25 am

UN chief warns of 'real risk' of Ivory Coast civil war

UN troops in Abidjan (21/12/10) The UN says pro-Gbagbo forces are harassing its peacekeepers
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Ivory Coast: Two presidents, one crisis

* Test case for Africa
* Q&A: Ivory Coast election crisis
* Head-to-head: Ivorian views
* In pictures: Deadly Abidjan clashes

The UN's secretary-general has warned there is a "real risk" of a return to civil war in Ivory Coast after the disputed presidential election.

Ban Ki-moon said the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, was illegally trying to expel the UN's peacekeeping force after it recognised Alassane Ouattara as victor.

Earlier, an ally of Mr Gbagbo warned the peacekeepers that they could be treated as rebels if they did not go.

And in his first TV address since the poll Mr Gbagbo stressed his legitimacy.

He also offered to let a panel representing international powers examine the results of the election.

Mr Gbagbo said Mr Ouattara could leave the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, where he has set up his headquarters, protected by the UN.

The army meanwhile announced the lifting of a nightly curfew, so families could "enjoy the end of year holidays and the New Year".

In a speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Mr Ban said he was worried about the 10,000-strong mission in Ivory Coast (Unoci).
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image of Thomas Fessy Thomas Fessy West Africa correspondent, BBC News

Laurent Gbagbo's offer of an international panel to solve the crisis came as a surprise at the end of a speech which he started by saying that he was the president of Ivory Coast.

His speech has not changed and his mind is set. For him, the opposition has to be blamed for the violence and Alassane Ouattara simply does not want to respect the law. But Mr Gbagbo is someone who likes to surprise people. He made the offer of the election panel sound like a sign of goodwill, or even like a concession to "avoid another war".

Many consider this latest offer as a chance for Mr Gbagbo to extend a five-year political stalemate during which the election was always postponed and he stayed in power.

Forces loyal to Mr Gbagbo were obstructing Unoci operations, and had blockaded the 800 peacekeepers protecting Mr Ouattara, he warned.

"I am concerned that this disruption of life-support supplies for the mission and the Golf Hotel will put our peacekeepers in a critical situation in the coming days," he said.

"I therefore strongly appeal to member states who are in a position to do so to prepare to support the mission.

"Facing this direct and unacceptable challenge to the legitimacy of the United Nations, the world community cannot stand by," he added.

The BBC's John James in Abidjan says roads leading to the lagoon-side hotel have been blocked and no supplies have been received for days.

Mr Ban said that any attempt to "starve the United Nations mission into submission" would not be tolerated, and warned those who perpetrated such acts would be held accountable under international law.

He also revealed Unoci had confirmed "mercenaries, including freelance former combatants from Liberia, have been recruited to target certain groups in the population", and that an arms embargo was being broken.
map of Abidjan

The secretary-general added that he had sent a request from Mr Ouattara to the General Assembly's credentials committee to recognise his choice for permanent representative and rescind the credentials of Mr Gbagbo's envoy, Alcide Djedje, who he has appointed foreign minister.
'Evaluation committee'

Earlier, Mr Gbagbo appeared on state television for the first time since the election to restate his claim to be the country's legitimate leader.

Click to play

Click to play

Ban Ki-moon said supplies to the UN mission in Ivory Coast were being disrupted

"I won the election with 51.45% of vote," he said. "I am the president of the Republic of Ivory Coast. I thank Ivorians for renewing their trust in me."

He attributed responsibility for the recent unrest to his "adversary's refusal to submit to the law".

Mr Ouattara and his supporters were nevertheless free to leave the Golf Hotel and "go where they like", he added.

Mr Gbagbo said he wanted the international community to set up an "evaluation committee", which would "have the mission to analyse the facts and the electoral process objectively in order to resolve the crisis peacefully".

He also paid tribute to the police officers killed in the unrest, who he said had died defending the constitution. But he insisted the way forward was through negotiation.
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Ivory Coast

* World's largest cocoa producer
* 1990s: Slipped into internal strife after death of President Felix Houphouet-Boigny
* 2002: New Forces rebels seize north
* 2007: Power-sharing government installed with ex-rebel leader as prime minister
* 2010: First presidential elections in 10 years
* Laurent Gbagbo: President since 2000, southerner, backed by security forces
* Alassane Ouattara: Former prime minister, northerner, backed by ex-rebels, UN, West and African Union

* What can Africa learn from Ivory Coast crisis?
* Country profile: Ivory Coast

"I don't want any more blood spilled. I don't want any more war," he said.

Mr Ouattara responded to the address by saying that they had had five years of meetings and that no-one was in any doubt who had really won.

At least 50 people have been killed in violence linked to the dispute, the UN says.

Mr Gbagbo has said the election was rigged in rebel-held areas of the north and was declared the winner by the Constitutional Council.

But the UN mission in Ivory Coast, which was involved in organising the election, backed the electoral commission in saying Mr Ouattara had won.

The election, delayed for five years, was supposed to reunify the world's largest cocoa producer, which has been divided since 2002.

Earlier, the US introduced sanctions on around 30 close associates of Mr Gbagbo, following the lead taken by the European Union on Monday.

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default Re: UN chief warns of 'real risk' of Ivory Coast civil war

Post by lunamoonfang on Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:40 am

Earlier, the US introduced sanctions on around 30 close associates of Mr Gbagbo, following the lead taken by the European Union on Monday.

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