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Ivory Coast's UN Ambassador Accuses World Body of Trying to Destabilize the Country - 2004-05-05

Ivory Coast's United Nations ambassador is accusing the world body of trying to destabilize the country by leaking a report accusing the government of orchestrating the killing of innocent civilians. The matter is likely to come before the Security Council next week.

Ivory Coast's U.N. Ambassador Philippe Djangone-Bi charged Wednesday that U.N. investigators and international media are trying to undermine President Laurent Gbagbo. The envoy said that a U.N. report charging the government with orchestrating a deadly crackdown on protesters last March was prematurely released in an attempt to divide the West African nation.

?What we don't want to accept is that they should come and hide behind the respectability of the United Nations, that's the problem,? he said. ?The United Nations, as a procedure, when there is a report, it is given to the country's leaders. They make their recommendations, then send them to the press if they wish. What is the hurry in putting this on the Internet before? What's the hurry? Why two-three days before? It is to weaken the president and divide the people and create a distance between the government and the security forces and the people and their president.?

The U.N. report, leaked to French media and placed on the internet last week, concludes that top Ivory Coast officials ordered security forces to use indiscriminate force against protesters in Abidjan March 25. The report said that at least 120 people were killed in the crackdown.

Ambassador Djangone-Bi put the death toll at 37, including two policemen and said government forces were acting to put down an armed insurrection.

He acknowledged that some of allegations in the U.N. report are true, but he expressed outrage that the document was leaked before the government had a chance to see it.

?We are a sovereign state,? he added. ?We are a member of the United Nations. How can they treat us that way? Order a commission. The report should be sent to us first.?

Asked about the leak, a spokesman said the United Nations would welcome an investigation. He said an English copy of the report had been given to the Ivorian U.N. mission Monday, but they had asked for one in French. The French version did not arrive until Wednesday.

The spokesman said that Ivory Coast officials will be given a few days to respond to the report before the matter is taken up in the Security Council, probably next week.