UN peacekeepers to withdraw non-essential staff from Côte d’Ivoire

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (PANA) – The UN operations in Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI) is to withdraw its non-essential staff because of the post-election troubles that are threatening to tear the country apart.

This temporary withdrawal would involve 460 members who would be sent to The Gambia, sources close to the peacekeeping force said on Tuesday. There are more than 10,000 military, police and civilian peacekeepers in the West African state.

Côte d’Ivoire has been going through a serious political turmoil following the proclamation of the results of the 28 November presidential run-off in which the two candidates, incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and veteran opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, have claimed victory.

The country’s independent electoral commission on Thursday proclaimed Mr Ouattara the winner of the poll with 54.1% of the votes, but this has been rejected by the Constitutional Council which, the following day, handed victory to president Gbagbo with 51% of the votes.

There has been an international condemnation of president Gbagbo and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Tuesday suspended the country from all decision-making bodies of the 15-member regional bloc ''until further notice''.

Rising from its extra-ordinary summit on Cote d'Ivoire in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, ECOWAS also formally recognised opposition candidate Ouattara as the elected president of the world's leading cocoa producing nation and asked Laurent Gbagbo to relinquish power.

''In order to to protect the legitimacy of the electoral process, the summit decided to endorse the result (of the run-off) declared by the Independent Electoral Commission...and to recognise Mr. Alassane Outtara as the president-elect of Cote d'Ivoire,'' said the communique.

''The summit called on Mr. Laurent Gbagbo to abide by the result of the second round of the presidential election and yield power without delay in the interest of the Ivorian people,'' it said.
-0- PANA GB/AAS/IBA/MSA/MA  7Dec2010

07 december 2010 21:32:19




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