Deploring inflammatory remarks and threats made by a political leader in Côte d’Ivoire against a grouping of neighbouring states working to bring stability to the divided country, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged all Ivorian parties to show restraint and pursue dialogue. He warned that anyone who incites violence will be held accountable by the international community.
The comments made on Monday by President of the Front Populaire Ivoirien, Affi Nguessan, contained threats against citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) living in Côte d’Ivoire, and Mr. Annan also emphasized the responsibility of the Ivorian Defence and Security Forces to protect civilians, including all foreigners.
“The Secretary-General calls on all Ivorian political leaders and their followers to exercise the utmost restraint at this critical juncture, and stresses that those instigating or committing violent acts will be held personally responsible by the international community,” he said in a statement read out by a UN spokesman in New York.
“The Secretary-General urges the Ivorian leaders to pursue dialogue and work with ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations to break the current impasse and agree on new transitional arrangements that should lead to elections.”
Civil strife has kept the country divided between a rebel-held north and a Government-controlled south since 2002 and Nigeria's Foreign Minister told the General Assembly in September that elections in Côte d’Ivoire were unlikely to take place this month as scheduled, adding that ECOWAS was set to discuss the situation.
The Security Council is also likely to meet sometime this month on Côte d’Ivoire, a UN spokesman has said.