Ivorian Crisis: Use of heavy weapons against civilians worries ONUCI

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) - The United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (ONUCI) Tuesday warned that it would react positively to threats by the Special Forces of the outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo to use heavy weapons, including machine guns, rocket launchers and mortars against the civilian populations in Abidjan.

In a statement, the UN mission indicated it had observed that "Gbagbo’s side was repairing an armed helicopter, MI 24, and that it was preparing some BM 21 multiple launch systems in Abidjan."

The ONUCI said it was monitoring the movements of these heavy weapons that constitute a serious threat for the civilian populations and warned it would not tolerate any attempt to use these arms.

ONUCI said it would take necessary action against them, in accordance with its mandate.

It further announced the reinforcement of its patrols and its direct interventions in situations where the populations seem to be in danger.

The UN mission has come under criticism by Alassane Ouattara, acclaimed winner of the 28 November election, for its alleged "passiveness" in reacting to the massacre of civilian populations.

On Monday, Quattara's government urged ONUCI to apply Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to ensure the protection of the civilian population.

Nearly 440 persons, predominantly civilians, have been killed since the beginning of the crisis, according to the UN.
-0- PANA BAL/JSG/MTD/BOS 22March2011

22 march 2011 15:09:59

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