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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid