Cote d'Ivoire: Ban warns Gbagbo against violent attack

New York, US (PANA) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday warned outgoing Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo against using violence to resolve the political stalemate in the country.

Ban also asked Gbagbo to step down for opposition leader, Alassane Ouattara, who he said won the presidential run-off elections.

The UN chief, who spoke at a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York, said: ``The situation in Cote d'Ivoire has taken a
dangerous turn with at least a dozen people killed following violence in Abidjan."

He noted that, ``the results of the election are known and there was a clear winner''.

``There is no other option. The efforts of Laurent Gbagbo and his supporters to retain power and flout the public cannot be allowed
to stand,'' he warned.

``I call on him (Gbagbo) to step down and allow his elected successor to assume office without further hindrance. The international
community must send this message loud and clear. Any other outcome would make a mockery of democracy and the rule of law,'' Ban warned.

The secretary-general also warned against any further attacks on the Golf hotel in Abidjan, where Ouattara has taken up residence due to Gbagbo’s refusal to leave the presidential palace.

``Let me say clearly and directly: Any attempt to obstruct UN operations or blockade the Golf Hotel is totally unacceptable,” he warned.

``Any attack on UN forces will be an attack on the international community. I emphasize: those responsible for the loss of civilian lives will be held accountable. In these circumstances, it is crucial for both parties to avoid provocations or a further escalation of violence,''
the UN chief added.

Meanwhile, a UN statement on Friday said that Ban's Special Representative in Cote d'Ivoire, Young J. Choi, conferred with African
Union (AU) Commission Chairman Jean Ping on ways to resolve the crisis.

``It was the latest in a series of regional and transcontinental meetings he has held to ensure that the will of the Ivorian people as expressed on 28 November is respected,'' the statement noted.

The AU, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU), as well as many individual countries, have all recognized Ouattara as the winner of the run-off election.

The UN Security Council on Thursday condemned ``in the strongest terms'' the post-electoral violence, including reported gunfire near the Golf Hotel in Abidjan.

The council also warned all sides that they would be held accountable and brought to justice for attacks against civilians.

It further welcomed AU and ECOWAS efforts and those of the countries in the region to assist in preserving peace and stability in Cote d’Ivoire.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 17Dec2010

17 december 2010 19:39:24

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