[QODLink]
Africa
UN troops to stay in Cote d'Ivoire
Ban Ki-moon vows international force will "fulfil its mandate" in country beset by poll dispute.
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2010 11:29 GMT
Cote d'Ivoire's disputed election has ramped up tensions in the West African nation [Reuters]

Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, has said UN peacekeepers will remain in Cote d'Ivoire, despite demands by Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president, that international forces leave the country.

Farhan Haq, Ban's spokesman, on Saturday relayed the UN chief's determination that the UN's force would "fulfill its mandate" in the country, where tensions have risen following last month's disputed presidential election.

"The secretary-general is aware of statements by Mr Gbagbo's spokesperson calling for the withdrawal of the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire [UNOCI]," Haq said in a statement.

"UNOCI will fulfill its mandate and will continue to monitor and document any human rights violations, incitement to hatred and violence, or attacks on UN peacekeepers."

The UN has 10,000 soldiers and police in the country following the 2002-03 civil war, and former colonial power France's LICORNE force supports the UN mission in the country.

'Held hostage'

Ban has said that Gbagbo must step down and hand power to Alassane Ouattara, the opposition leader who the UN says won Ivory Coast's November 28 presidential election.

The election precipitated a crisis with both Ouattara and Gbagbo claiming victory. Both men set up cabinets and  Ouattara is running his parallel government from a hotel in Abidjan.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Patrick Achi, a spokesman for Ouattara, said that Gbagbo had no right to ask the UN to leave.

"The population is the hostage of someone who lost the election," Achi added.

Earlier on Saturday, masked men in military uniforms fired on a UN base after following guards back from a patrol, according to a UN statement.

There were no casualties after the attack.

International pressure

Gbagbo's move to eject UN and French peacekeepers comes just a day after Raila Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister, called on African nations to oust the Ivorian president by force if necessary.

"Mr Gbagbo must be forced even if it means using military means to get rid of him because now he is just relying on military power, not the people's power, to intimidate the people," Odinga told a news conference in Nairobi on Friday.
 
"The African Union should develop teeth."

The United States has said it is ready to impose travel sanctions on Gbagbo, his inner circle and their families within days, while at least one African nation is said to have offered him exile.

But Al Jazeera's Ama Boateng, reporting from Abidjan, said that Gbagbo has "heard these threats before".

"We've heard them from the African Union, we've heard them from the United Nations, we've heard them from pretty much every international voice," Boateng said. "And so far, that has had very, very little effect."

A spokesman for Gbagbo told the Reuters news agency that the presidential claimant would not step down after being handed the runoff victory after the constitutional council annulled hundreds of thousands of votes in pro-Ouattara areas.

The election has been followed by violent protests in Abidjan and other cities. Ouattara's camp said 30 people died in clashes on Thursday while Gbagbo's spokeswoman said 20 died, including 10 police officers killed by protesters.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
join our mailing list