Ongoing fighting in Côte d’Ivoire threatens efforts to restore peace, UN warns

Ivoirians carry their belongings as they escape the fighting

21 April 2011 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire today deplored the ongoing fighting in neighbourhoods of the commercial capital, Abidjan, warning that the clashes could threaten efforts to restore peace and security following the recent post-electoral crisis.

The refusal by former president Laurent Gbagbo to stand down after he lost the UN-certified run-off poll in November plunged the West African country into four months of violence, with his troops pitted against forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized President. Mr. Gbagbo surrendered last week and was taken into custody.

In recent days there has been persistent fighting in Yopougon as well as clashes in Abobo between units belonging to the Invisible Commando, a group that had been fighting against the forces loyal to Mr. Gbagbo, and the Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI), according to the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).

The mission is holding discussions with the parties to resolve the situation and has also strengthened its presence in Yopougon, said spokesperson Hamadoun Touré.

“During the past week, UNOCI conducted 976 land, mixed and aerial patrols,” Mr. Touré told reporters in Abidjan, adding that the mission has decided to double the number of peacekeepers in Yopougon. About 100 UN troops will set up around-the-clock patrols.

“We are contributing to ensuring security while at the same time preserving our military impartiality,” he said.

Mr. Touré also announced that 250 Malawian soldiers had arrived as part of the additional 2,000 troops authorized by the Security Council at the start of this year to help strengthen the capacity of the 9,000-strong UNOCI to protect civilians.

In addition, a UNOCI mine clearance team has begun demining work in Cocody, a district of Abidjan that was the scene of deadly combat during the last several weeks, while a disarmament operation launched in the wake of Mr. Gbagbo’s surrender is continuing.

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