Friday, March 18, 2011

Attacks in Côte d’Ivoire

United Nations officials today intensified their condemnation of an attack yesterday by forces allied to Côte d’Ivoire’s defeated president on a market that killed 25 to 30 people and wounded dozens more, with the Organization’s human rights office warning that it could be a crime against humanity.

Such charges can bring the alleged perpetrator within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor is already leading a preliminary examination into the deadly violence sparked by former president Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down despite his UN-certified and internationally recognized defeat by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in last November’s run-off elections.  “We utterly condemn yesterday's attack by rockets or other missiles on a civilian area in the Abobo suburb of the [commercial] capital Abidjan,” UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva, referring to the neighbourhood that is a Ouattara stronghold.  “It is quite difficult to avoid the conclusion that this may be an international crime, possibly a crime against humanity. We are very concerned that the situation in Côte d’Ivoire appears to have deteriorated even further over the past week.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also voiced shock at the attack, in which six mortars were fired into the market, condemned the recent escalation of violence, and warned the Ivorian parties to bring the fighting and related human rights violations to an end without further delay.

The UN peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which has blamed Gbagbo loyalists for much of the violence that has killed over 400 people since December and voiced outrage immediately after yesterday’s attack on the Ouattara stronghold of Abobo, has vowed that the perpetrators will not go unpunished. 

(Excerpts from a UN Press Release)

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