Civil War Looms In Ivory Coast


Over 120 Ivoriens have been killed in one week, abductions of residents of the capital are on the increase, the guns are booming in the capital, grenades are flying around, mercenaries are being recruited from neighbouring countries; soldiers of the United Nations are being threatened and America has asked its citizens to leave the country— they are all tell tale signs that Ivory Coast is at the verge of another civil war, five years after it ended another.

Ivory Coast, world’s leading producer of cocoa, is tottering towards another war following the contrived impasse over the country’s presidential election. Alassane Ouattara, opposition candidate clearly won the re-run poll by more than eight per cent, but the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo has declared himself the winner and has refused to vacate office. Everyday, since the impasse, it has been one bad news after another emanating from the country.

The United Nations said Sunday that it has received hundreds of reports of people being abducted from their homes at night by armed assailants in military uniform and there is growing evidence of “massive violations of human rights.”

The statement from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights came a day after the U.N. said it would remain in Ivory Coast despite demands from the man refusing to give up the presidency that thousands of peacekeepers get out of the

West African country.

Navi Pillay, the top U.N. human-rights official, said Sunday that more than 50 people have been killed over the past three days in Ivory Coast. Previous estimates were that up to 30 people had died in the violence.

“The deteriorating security conditions in the country and the interference with freedom of movement of U.N. personnel have made it difficult to investigate the large number of human-rights violations reported,” Pillay said in a statement released from her office in Geneva.

It said the armed assailants behind the home abductions had been “accompanied by elements of the Defense and Security Forces or militia groups.”

International pressure is mounting for Laurent Gbagbo to concede defeat to opposition leader, Alassane Ouattara, whose victory has been recognized by the United Nations, the U.S., former colonizer, France and the African Union.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department on Sunday ordered most of its personnel to leave Ivory Coast because of the deteriorating security situation and growing anti-Western sentiment.

The order issued Sunday exempts only the State Department’s emergency personnel.

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U.S. officials warned American citizens to avoid travel to the West African nation until further notice.

The EU was giving Gbagbo until Sunday to concede defeat or face sanctions that would include an assets freeze and a visa ban on him and his wife. The U.N. Security Council is expected to meet today to discuss Ivory Coast’s political crisis.

Experts say there are few strong options for forcing Gbagbo out of office, and it is unlikely the African Union or others would back a military intervention.

“The trouble is both sides are clearly preparing now for conflict, and a cornered Gbagbo shows little sense of the national tragedy unfolding through his brinkmanship,” said Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at Chatham House, an independent research center in London.

As uncertainty pervaded the country, the sit-tight president, Laurent Gbagbo has been accused of recruiting Liberian and Angolan fighters to kill supporters of Ouattara.

Kandia Kamara, spokeswoman for Ouattara says the mercenaries can be seen all around Abidjan. She said Gbagbo’s supporters

are so far responsible for the deaths of as many as 120 young people around the Ivorian commercial capital of Abidjan.

She said Mr. Ouattara wants U.N. peacekeepers to remain in Ivory Coast to protect Ivorians from Mr. Gbagbo and his alleged foreign fighters.

“We wonder how Gbagbo dare to order UN peacekeepers out of the country because he is no more the president of Ivory Coast. So it’s Mr. Ouattara, the present president of Ivory Coast who can decide whether the U.N. peacekeepers can stay or not,” she said.

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