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UN Chief Warns Ivory Coast Risks Return to Civil War

  • Larry Freund

UN forces patrol outside the UN headquarters in Ivory Coast, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010.

UN forces patrol outside the UN headquarters in Ivory Coast, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday there is a real risk of a return to civil war in Ivory Coast as the situation there grows increasingly volatile.

Warning of a return to civil war in Ivory Coast, U.N. Secretary-General Ban called for decisive action. Ban pointed to what he called an alarming increase in the use of intimidation by elements of the national security forces loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo.

He told the U.N. General Assembly the tactics include abductions and killings and the propagation of hate speech through the state broadcasting corporation. The Secretary-General added the intention of Mr. Gbagbo and the security forces loyal to him is clearly to blockade the U.N. peacekeeping mission and to suffocate the government of president-elect Alassane Ouattara.

"The international community must act and act decisively. I emphasize again today what I have said earlier: any attempt to starve the United Nations mission into submission will not be tolerated. Any attack on the United Nations and its staff must be considered an attack on the international community," Ban said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban urged the General Assembly to rescind the credentials of the representative of incumbent Ivory Coast president Gbagbo and replace him with a representative of president-elect Ouattara.

In separate comments, the head of United Nations peacekeeping operations, Alain Le Roy told reporters mercenary troops from Liberia and possibly Angola have been used in Ivory Coast to attack and provoke the civilian population and U.N. peacekeeping personnel. Le Roy referred to an appearance on Ivory Coast television by incumbent president Gbagbo in which he said he does not want another war and does not want any more Ivorian blood to be spilled.

"We appreciate this appeal for restraint for everyone. And therefore we expect that any act of provocation should stop, any act of violation of human rights should stop, any act of blockading or strangling the U.N. mission should stop. Mr. Gbagbo has been very clear. He wants no violence, no more blood, so all the forces loyal to him should stop immediately provocations, instigating violence," he said.

Le Roy said the United Nations has a mandate to fulfill and, he added, we will fulfill that mandate.

The U.N. Security Council on Monday renewed the mandate for the 10,000 U.N. peacekeeping troops in Ivory Coast. The U.N. refugee agency says more than 6,000 Ivorians have already fled to neighboring countries and the agency is preparing for up to 30,000.