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UN Says Gbagbo Supporters Orchestrating Riots in Ivory Coast

A senior United Nations official has accused the government of Ivory Coast of orchestrating violent anti-U.N. protests. The Security Council held urgent consultations to discuss the mounting unrest in the west African nation.

The Council held an impromptu, closed-door meeting late Tuesday to discuss the wave of anti-U.N. disturbances that has swept Abidjan and other Ivorian cities.

Undersecretary- General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno told ambassadors that the U.N. Special envoy in the region had met Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo during the day to demand an end to the violence.

Afterward, Mr. Guehenno told reporters the demonstrations by Gbagbo supporters had clearly been orchestrated.

"Things are very worrying in Cote d'Ivoire, because we have seen in past 48 hours orchestrated violence, and I say orchestrated because when violence happens simultaneously in several places at once, not only Abidjan but in Daloa, in Guiglo, this is orchestrated," he said. "So it creates an atmosphere of threat for all international personnel who have come to Cote d'Ivoire to help and that is unacceptable, that is against international, against Ivorian law."

Secretary-General Kofi Annan also condemned the goverment sponsored violence directed against the United Nations, and demanded an end to attacks that he said "contravene Ivorian law and seriously endanger the peace process"

That statement was issued Tuesday after U.N. military officials said hundreds of President Gbagbo's supporters attempted to break in to the base of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast. They were said to have been driven back with tear gas and warning shots.

The protests erupted after an international mediation panel recommended that parliament be dissolved in order to clear the way for a presidential election late this year. President Gbagbo's party responded to the mediators' ruling by announcing it was quitting the U.N.-backed peace process and calling on peacekeepers to leave the country.

Peacekeeping Chief Guehenno Tuesday urged the president's party not to make good on its threat, saying that keeping the opposing parties together in the government is the "only way to avoid violence in Ivory Coast".

The United Nations has been trying to move Ivory Coast toward peace since a 2002 war that left rebels in control of half the country. The world body has 7,000 blue-helmeted peacekeeping troops on the ground, augmented by 4,000 French troops patrolling ceasefire lines between the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south.