ECOWAS seeks UN Security Council nod to use force against Gbagbo

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will require a UN Security Council resolution to sanction the use of force against incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, beforethe regional bloc can activate that option.

Nigeria's Foreign Minister and Chairman of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers Odein Ajumogobia made the disclosure in an editorial piece he wrote in Nigeria's NEXT newspaper Monday.

''As the impasse deepens with each passing day and the direct threat to regional peace and security becomes more imminent, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) requires unequivocal international support through an appropriate United Nations Security Council resolution to sanction the use of force.

''This is the only way to legitimize the use of external force to effectively contain the increasingly volatile internal situation and ensure an enduring peace in Cote d'Ivoire and the West African sub region,'' the Minister wrote.

He said a UN Security Council resolution to authorise military force, as a last option, ''would complement ECOWAS' own commitment to dialogue and diplomacy, and would also reinforce the need to take steps now to protect the civilian population and stem the growing number of civilian casualties and deaths''

The 15-member regional bloc 24 Dec. 2010 threatened to use ''legitimate force'' to oust Gbagbo so that the man widely believed to have won the 28 Nov. presidential runoff in Cote d'Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, can assume office.

But Mr. Ajumogobia explained that the use of ''legitimate force'' does not necessarily translate to sending an invasion force to the West African nation.

''The ECOWAS Authority resolution to consider the use of 'legitimate force' has perhaps not unexpectedly provoked some dissent. A growing number of commentators have observed that the ECOWAS has gone beyond its authority and should rather limit itself to a broad range of sanctions.

''The use of 'legitimate force' is however not exclusively about military warfare in the conventional sense and therefore does not necessary connote an "invasion" by troops. Legitimate force can include, for example, a naval blockade to enforce sanctions which might be imposed against Mr. Gbagbo.

''Mr. Gbagbo must be made to understand that there is a very real prospect of overwhelming military capability bearing down on him and his cohorts. It is only then that he will give serious consideration to the demands that he step down immediately,'' the Minister explained, adding: ''The deployment of armed force for this purpose can only however be 'legitimate' pursuant to an appropriate UNSC Resolution.''

Mr. Ajumogobia confirmed reports that Gbagbo was offered amnesty to quit, saying: ''It is helpful that several world leaders have made amnesty offers to Mr. Laurent Gbagbo on the condition of his accepting to surrender power peacefully to the internationally recognized winner of the November 28, 2010 presidential election.

''Prestigious international roles that Laurent Gbagbo could play, if he accepts to leave peacefully, have also been offered to the former Ivorien leader. Apart from these considerations, his personal security, and that of his supporters is being guaranteed either within the Cote d'Ivoire or outside of the country. His financial assets are also to be protected in the event that he accepts to prevent the Cote d'Ivoire from going to another civil war. Mr. Laurent Gbagbo has so far scoffed at these generous proposals for a dignified exit.''

He warned unless urgent action was taken, the situation in Cote d'Ivoire would ''inevitably lead to anarchy and chaos, or worse, a full blown civil war with the attendant impunity, violence, inconceivable humanitarian challenges and unprecedented civilian casualties''.
-0- PANA SEG 24Jan2011

24 january 2011 13:17:14

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