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Côte d'Ivoire

Ouattara calls on mediators to work quickly to end crisis

Reuters/Stringer
3 min

Côte d'Ivoire’s internationally recognised leader Alassane Ouattara said on Thursday that West African mediators would have to work quickly to end the crisis. During his New Year’s address he said “it is time to act”. Ghana has ruled out sending troops to the country under regional bloc Ecowas’ plan to force out incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.

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“We must learn from everything that has happened. It is time to act and get out of this situation,” Ouattara told journalists from the Golf Hotel in Abidjan where he has been holed up since the election.

Ouattara said that “the year 2010 ends in sadness and dismay” but he made a “personal vow” to minimise any further loss of life.

Three West African presidents representing the regional bloc Ecowas are set to return to Abidjan for more talks on Monday. However, on Thursday Ghana said it would not be sending troops to Côte d'Ivoire under a regional plan to force Gbagbo to cede power.

“We are already over-stretched because we have contributed to UN peace keeping forces in Lebanon, [the Democratic Republic of] Congo and Côte d'Ivoire itself and as such it won’t be possible to send any troops to our neighbours again,” Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith told the AFP news agency.

Ecowas has voted to authorise military intervention if Gbagbo refuses to step down.

Earlier on Thursday a UN envoy on the prevention of genocide on said he had “grave” concerns about the situation in Côte d'Ivoire. He said that allegations that homes of Gbagbo opponents had been marked to indicate ethnicity were “extremely worrying”.

“There are continuing reports, so far unconfirmable [sic], of serious human rights violations by supporters of Mr Laurent Gbagbo and by forces under his control as well as the use of inflammatory speech to incite hatred and violence,” Francis Deng, the Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, said in a statement.

Meanwhile Côte d'Ivoire president-elect Alassane Ouattara’s new United Nations ambassador Youssoufou Bamba warned on Wednesday that the country was close to genocide.

“The real concern of president Ouattara is regarding the situation of human rights,” Bamba told reporters.

“That’s one of the messages I tried to get across during the consultation I’ve conducted so far. To tell [people] that we are on the brink of genocide, something should be done,” he added.

United Nations rights monitors have confirmed 179 killings in the past two weeks although they say the situation is “getting better”.

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