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UN Security Council Extends Ivory Coast Peacekeeping Mission

UN forces wait outside the UN headquarters during a press conference in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Monday, Dec. 20, 2010.

The U.N. Security Council has extended the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast for six months, despite demands by the incumbent Ivory Coast president for the pullout of the peacekeepers.

The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the 10,000 member U.N. peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast until June 30, 2011. The incumbent president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, last week ordered U.N. and French peacekeepers to leave the country.

Mr. Gbagbo continues to refuse to accept challenger Alassane Ouattara as Ivory Coast's new president, despite international acceptance of Mr. Ouattara's election in last month's voting.

In its resolution extending the peacekeeping force for six months, the Security Council condemns, in what it calls the strongest possible terms, the attempts to usurp the will of the people and undermine the integrity of the electoral process and any progress in the peace process in Ivory Coast. The council urges all the Ivorian parties to respect the will of the people and the outcome of the election, citing the recognition by the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union of Mr. Ouattara as Ivory Coast's president-elect.

United States Ambassador Susan Rice, the current president of the Security Council, said the council warned all stakeholders they will be held accountable for attacks against civilians and peacekeepers, and will be brought to justice.

"The members of the Security Council urge all Ivorians to exercise maximum restraint, remain calm, resist provocative actions, refrain from violence and work together to restore sustainable peace," she said.

A U.N. spokesman says there have been at least 50 deaths in Ivory Coast, 200 people injured and 470 people arbitrarily arrested and detained since the election.