News / Africa

Ivory Coast, Nigeria Among Top US Concerns

US Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Johnnie Carson (file photo)
US Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Johnnie Carson (file photo)
Joe DeCapua

The top U.S. diplomat on Africa places blame for the violence in Ivory Coast squarely on the shoulders of Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to accept defeat in last November’s presidential election. The U.N. has declared Alassane Ouattara as the president-elect.

“Gbagbo’s intransigence has exacerbated tensions and provoked violence across the country. He and his ministers have openly threatened the United Nations’ operation, which is charged with protecting civilians who are caught in the crossfire,” said Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson. He spoke Tuesday at the Wilson Center in Washington.

“Hundreds of thousands have been displaced,” he said, “and violence last week probably has pushed the death toll in Ivory Coast to above a thousand people.”

Unlike Libya

Carson said it would be wrong to compare the Ivorian crisis with that of Libya in terms of international response to protect civilians.

“For the past four months," he said, “the United States has been working closely with its African and other international partners to achieve a peaceful outcome of the Ivoirian crisis. A robust international peacekeeping force has been on the ground since 2002, beginning first as an ECOWAS operation and then converting in 2004 to a U.N.-led effort.”

ECOWAS is the Economic Community of West African States.

The State Department official says the peacekeepers prevented a “prolonged, bloody civil war” like those in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Protect civilians

“We are in regular contact with President Ouattara and with Prime Minister Soro to insist that forces claiming to fight on their behalf refrain from violence against civilians, looting and other excesses. We are heartened by President Ouattara’s and Prime Minister Soro’s clear directives to their forces to maintain the utmost respect for civilian populations and their calls for transparent, international investigations of all reported human rights abuses,” he said.

Over the weekend, it was learned that about 800 civilians had been killed in the western Ivorian town of Duekoue. An investigation is underway. Pro-Ouattara forces have denied responsibility.

Many of the Ivoirian refugees now in neighboring countries are said to be Gbagbo supporters.

Carson says, “We have also raised our concerns about violence committed by the pro-Gbagbo forces that have occurred and alleged in various parts of Ivory Coast. We have made it clear that actors on all sides will be held accountable for war crimes and other atrocities.”

Remember Nigeria

The assistant secretary of state says despite the crises in Ivory Coast, North Africa, the Middle East and Japan, the importance of the upcoming Nigerian elections must not be forgotten. He said the 2011 elections must bear no resemblance to those of 2007, which drew charges of fraud and corruption in the victory of then-president Umar Musa Yar'dua.

On Saturday, the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] postponed National Assembly elections for one week due to the “late arrival of result sheets… central to the elections and their integrity.”

“This past weekend, Nigeria was to have held the first of a series of elections that will shape the direction of Africa’s most populous and second largest economy. Nigeria has not had credible national elections since 1993. And overcoming this negative legacy remains a significant challenge,” Carson said.

He said the United States agreed with the delay and praised INEC’s chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, saying he brings integrity and competence to the position.

“However, as we have seen this past weekend, one man alone cannot overcome significant systemic and logistical challenges. Nor can one person alone turn around and transform a political culture in which stolen elections have become the norm for decades,” he said.

The problems, he said, create the “opportunity for political manipulation. And some politicians have acted in ways to make proper electoral oversight all the more difficult.”

While electoral violence this year is lower than that of 2007, Carson said, “Any election violence is unacceptable. And it casts a dark shadow over the entire electoral process.”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed the elections will be free and fair.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid