ECOWAS condemns rhetoric against W/African citizens in Cote d'Ivoire

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The ECOWAS Commission has condemned the ''incendiary rhetoric'' against citizens of ECOWAS Member States in Cote d’Ivoire, which is enmeshed in a post-election crisis that has killed over 400 and forced hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring countries.

The condemnation was contained in a letter to outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo by the President of the Commission, Ambassador James Victor Gbeho.

He reminded Gbagbo, who is also the leader of the Ivorian Popular Front, of his personal responsibility to guarantee the security of civilians living in areas under his control no matter their state of origin.

Ambassador Gbeho referred to the recent “inflammatory speech” by Mr Ble Goude, the Minister of Youth and leader of the Jeunes Patriots, inciting his followers to take arms against the citizens of other ECOWAS Member States and accusing some of  the states of supplying mercenaries to opponents in the Ivorian crisis.

“The ECOWAS Commission strongly disapproves of such vitriolic hate speech and takes a serious view of calls to attack innocent citizens of other countries living in Cote d’Ivoire,” the President said in the two-page letter in which he also reminded  the outgoing President of his responsibility to guarantee peace and security in areas under his control.

He recalled that “this unacceptable act comes in the immediate aftermath of other serious acts of violence that have claimed many casualties” and urged him to “personally dissuade your Minister and other followers from further acts of incitement and the temptation to deliberately target the civilian population, including Ivoirians, ECOWAS citizens and other foreigners living  in the country.”

The ECOWAS Commission President then informed Gbagbo that ECOWAS and the African Union hope to take urgent steps very soon to commence the implementation of the Decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council at its meeting in Addis Ababa on 10th March 2011 regarding the situation in Cote d’Ivoire.

He therefore launched a “fervent appeal” to the outgoing President and all the Ivorian parties to urge their followers to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from any act likely to further worsen the precarious security in the country.

“In this regard, I wish to remind all concerned of their individual and collective responsibility for crimes against unarmed civilians,” he said.
-0- PANA SEG 24March2011

24 march 2011 11:02:29

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