UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Thursday called on all sides for ending post-election crisis in Côte d'Ivoire stemming from the refusal of former president Laurent Gbagbo to step down despite electoral defeat.
According to his spokesman Martin Nesirky, the UN head voiced concern at the continuing violence and planned demonstrations which could increase tensions, undermining prospects for an early and peaceful end to the crisis.
In coming days, a high-level African Union (AU) panel will visit the West African country in the latest attempt to resolve the political crisis stemming from the victory of opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara in the November 2010 presidential elections.
Gbagbo rejected the results and ordered a council to annul votes in some regions in order to be declared winner. The UN and the international community refused Gbagbo's claims and backed Ouattara.
The UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) has supported Ouattara and is currently guarding the Golf Hotel, where the president-elect is currently based. The elections' results were ratified and certified by a UN envoy.
Ban called for an immediate end to the acts of violence against the civilian population and for restraint in the planned demonstrations, as well as for an end to the obstruction of UNOCI’s operations and lifting of the siege on the Golf Hotel.
The UNOCI mission currently has approximately 9,000 peacekeepers deployed in Côte d'Ivoire. Gbagbo as demanded the withdrawal of the blue helmets but the UN refuse. In addition, The UN Security Council authorized the immediate deployment of an additional 2,000 troops and three armed helicopters last month.
Some 20,000 Ivorians have been internally displaced and over 33,000 more have fled to neighboring Liberia due to the violence between both sides. UN officials have warned that ethnic tensions stemming from national, racial and religious affiliation linked to the opposing camps could lead to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
The 2010 presidential elections were meant to be the culminating point in reunifying a country split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north.
(BNO NEWS )