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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid