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UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire urges restraint amidst reports of growing violence

UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire urges restraint amidst reports of growing violence

UNOCI peacekeepers on patrol
The UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire today called for all parties to show restraint and to remain calm amidst reports of violent clashes, including the use of mortars and heavy weaponry, in the country’s capital city Abidjan.

Côte d’Ivoire has been thrust into political uncertainty after the incumbent president refused to concede electoral defeat recently. The UN has endorsed the victory of opposition leader and President-elect, Alassane Ouattara, in the run-off presidential elections held on 28 November, despite outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo’s claim to have won.

Known by the acronym UNOCI, the UN mission reports that heavy fighting broke out earlier Thursday between elements of the Forces Nouvelles and the Forces de défense et de sécurité, which had reinforced their checkpoints on the main passages to the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, where President-elect Ouattara has been based.

The mission has established contact with both sides with the aim of stopping the fighting. In addition, it has deployed almost 800 military and police personnel and eight armoured personnel carriers to provide security for the Golf Hotel, together with the Forces Nouvelles and the Licorne troops provided by France in support of UNOCI.

An additional UN formed police unit is being deployed from the city of Bouaké today and, as a precautionary measure, UNOCI has also pre-positioned potable water, bulk water tanks, generators and fuel in the Golf Hotel should any of these services be disrupted.

UNOCI has reiterated that violence is not the way to resolve the political stalemate and that the parties should refrain from acts that could jeopardize the numerous efforts being made to allow the will of the Ivorian people, as expressed on 28 November 2010, to prevail.

Since the announcement of marches by the supporters of the pro-Ouattara Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix (RHDP), the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, Y. J. Choi, has increased his efforts to prevent violence. He has been in contact with Prime Minister Guillaume Soro and the Chief of Staff of the Forces de défense et de sécurité, General Philippe Mangou, in an effort to help calm the situation.

In a statement by his spokesperson on Wednesday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all the Ivorian parties and their supporters to exercise patience and refrain from any actions that could, accidentally or deliberately, provoke violence. He also stressed that in the currently charged political environment such actions could have unpredictable consequences, including reigniting civil war.