UN warns of Ivorian 'hate media'

Security Council says broadcasting "false information" must stop, because it incites ethnic violence in Cote d'Ivoire.

     Despite mounting international pressure there has been very little progress in convincing Gbagbo to step down [EPA] 

    The UN Security Council has urged an end to the broadcasting of what it calls "false information" in Cote d'Ivoire, which it says is aimed at inciting ethnic violence. 

    The council's statement, read to reporters by Mirsada Colakovic, Bosnia's deputy UN ambassador, voiced "deep concern over continued violence and human rights violations" in the West African country.

    "The members of the Security Council strongly condemned and demanded an immediate halt to the use of media, especially Radiodiffusion-Television Ivoirienne (RTI), to propagate false information to incite hatred and violence, including against the UN," the statement read on Monday.

    The United Nations says more than 200 people have been killed in violence since the dispute broke out between Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down as president, and his rival Alassane Ouattara, after a presidential runoff on November 28, which the UN says Ouattara won. 

    Ethnic violence in Cote d'Ivoire's western town of Duekoue last week killed 33 people and wounded 75, the chief of its main hospital told the Reuters news agency.

    Mediation continues

    The African Union's mediator in the Ivorian crisis, Raila Odinga, the Kenyan prime minister, is expected to fly back to the troubled West African country this week, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

    "The PM has indicated that he will return to Ivory Coast this week. The date of his return will be either Thursday or Friday," Dennis Onyango told the AFP news agency.

    "He will first meet and brief Jean Ping, the chairman of the AU Commission, in Nairobi on Wednesday before setting off for the Ivory Coast," the spokesman said.

    Odinga's first trip to Abidjan since being appointed as mediator by the continental body ended on January 5 with little tangible progress in resolving the standoff.

    Meanwhile, Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian leader and mediator, left Cote d'Ivoire early on Monday as the country's incumbent president continued to defy the world and insist he had won the recent election.

    Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo visited Cote d'Ivoire in a bid to help mediate [Al Jazeera]

    Obasanjo, who came unannounced over the weekend, had driven back and forth between the presidency and a hotel across town where the internationally recognised winner Ouattara is barricaded.

    The purpose of Obasanjo's visit was to deliver the international community's message as forcefully as possible, and to offer Gbagbo an exile abroad and a monthly stipend if he chooses to step down, said an adviser to Ouattara who was briefed on the discussions.

    The adviser spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. He also said Obasanjo repeated the warning that Gbagbo will face a regional military ouster if he does not cede power.

    The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has threatened to remove him by force if negotiations fail.

    ECOWAS has previously mounted armed interventions in Sierra Leone and Liberia, though the move in Cote d'Ivoire is controversial because the nation is a magnet for immigrants from other African countries.

    Gbagbo's government has insinuated that any armed move will prompt retaliatory attacks against
    foreigners living in the country.

    Three other high-level delegations, including a mission last week by several African heads of state, have all failed to get Gbagbo to cede power.

    The UN Security Council on Monday welcomed plans by the African Union and the West African regional group ECOWAS to send another high-level delegation "as soon as possible'' to try to achieve a peaceful solution to the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire.

    Chinese and Russian reluctance

    Council diplomats told Reuters that Russia and China were reluctant to have the UN explicitly recognise Ouattara as the country's elected president because they dislike the idea of the Security Council endorsing one candidate over another in a national election.

    To secure the support of Moscow and Beijing, diplomats said, the statement quoted a January 4 communique issued jointly by the African Union and regional west African group ECOWAS that referred to Ouattara as Cote d'Ivoire's president.

    "In view of the recognition set out in the communique of Alassane Dramane Ouattara as president of Cote d'Ivoire, the members of the Security Council reiterated their call on all Ivorian parties and stakeholders to respect the will of the people and the outcome of the election," the statement said.

    Alain Le Roy, UN peacekeeping chief, told the 15-nation council last week that he would ask for up to 2,000 additional peacekeepers to top up the 10,000-strong UN force, known as UNOCI.

    The statement said the Council "welcomed the submission of the detailed recommendations and proposals" aimed at strengthening the UNOCI.

    The long-delayed presidential election was intended to draw a line under years of instability, but instead has widened the divide between the country's north and south.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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