Côte d'Ivoire: UN reacts to attacks with restraint as diplomatic bid to end crisis intensifies

18 January 2006 – As hate media in Côte d'Ivoire broadcast messages inciting attacks against United Nations peacekeepers, diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis are intensifying, a spokesman for the world body said today.

“Violence continues in a number of locations, including Abidjan and Guiglo,” Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York. He added that the situation has calmed somewhat in San Pedro and Daloa, but last night Bangladeshi Battalion elements in Guiglo were forced to open fire to repel attackers trying to overrun the UN compound.

“A number of attackers were killed and others wounded. UN forces are exercising maximum restraint in dealing with these attacks. Non-lethal methods are being used to disperse crowds and deter attacks,” he stressed.

The hate messages are “unacceptable and must cease immediately,” Mr. Dujarric said.

On the diplomatic front, Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke by telephone with President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d'Ivoire and with President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, the current chair of the African Union (AU), according to the spokesman. Mr Obasanjo was expected to meet key national leaders in Côte d'Ivoire, including Mr. Gbagbo and new Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, as well as the head of the peacekeeping UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), Pierre Schori.

The Secretary-General hoped that President Obasanjo would be able to defuse tensions during these discussions. “It is urgent that the parties stay the course in the interest of the people of Côte d'Ivoire and the region,” Mr. Dujarric said.

Yesterday, the Security Council was briefed in closed session by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who said the violence appeared orchestrated and called on all parties who had agreed to the peace arrangements to stick to their pledges.

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