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20 Dec 2010 16:40
The European Union (EU) on Monday decided to slap visa bans on 19 Ivorians, including incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and his powerful wife, Simone.
Gbagbo has refused to cede power to his rival Alassane Ouattara, a rival that the international community recognises as the winner of last month’s presidential election, and violence has erupted in the streets of Abidjan.
The measures will take 24 to 48 hours before coming into force, with a decision to freeze assets for the 19 to be taken separately, diplomatic sources said.
Following is the list obtained by Agency France-Presse of people facing “targeted measures” by the 27-nation bloc:
Gbagbo accused of instigating harassment
Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) accused Gbagbo of harassing foreign diplomats and peacekeepers on Monday, as tension rose steeply after reports of widespread killings and rights abuses.
The UN has refused Gbagbo’s order to withdraw its 10 000-strong UNOCI peacekeeping force, and its chief human rights official accuses security forces of involvement in dozens of alleged kidnappings and murders.
UN peacekeepers continue to patrol the restive port city of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s sprawling commercial capital, supported by France’s 900-strong Licorne, a holdover from Paris’ formerly much larger military presence.
“As from December 15, President Gbagbo’s camp began to increase hostile acts against the international community, including the diplomatic corps, impartial forces and UNOCI,” UN head of mission Choi Young-jin told reporters.
Choi accused Gbagbo’s troops of blockading the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, where Ouattara’s camp lives under the protection of 800 UN peacekeepers, and “on and off denying access to food and water supply trucks”.
He complained that gunmen in military uniform had opened fire on a UN patrol, and said that the Gbagbo camp had sent groups of armed young men to intimidate UN staff in their homes at night.
“However, all these acts will not deter UNOCI from doing its job, as we remember one of Winston Churchill’s maxims: ‘If you’re going through hell, just keep going’,” Choi said.
Both Gbagbo and Ouattara have declared themselves president, but the former has retained control of the official armed forces and of Abidjan’s ministries.
Ouattara has been recognised as president by the UN, and is supported by the former rebel movement that controls Côte d’Ivoire north of a 2003 ceasefire line that divides the country into two armed camps.
In the south, home to the government and the cocoa ports that dominate Côte d’Ivoire’s economy, his movements are limited to the grounds of the Golf Hotel.
Meanwhile, in the poor suburbs of the city, there are reports of gangs in uniform raiding houses at night and killing suspected Ouattara backers.
On Sunday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed concern about “the growing evidence of massive violations of human rights” in the restive West African country since Thursday.
“In the past three days there has been more than 50 people killed, and over 200 injured,” she said in a statement issued in Geneva, vowing “to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions.”
She said witnesses blamed “armed individuals in military uniform accompanied by elements of the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) or militia groups”.
“Abducted persons are reportedly taken by force to illegal places of detention where they are held incommunicado and without charge. Some have been found dead in questionable circumstances,” Pillay added.
Gbagbo’s interior minister, Emile Guirieoulou, rejected Pillay’s accusations and accused the UN of producing a “partisan report”.
“The violence of the past few days has seen around 14 members of the Defence and Security Forces shot dead.
That is not said often enough,” he told AFP.
Former colonial power France, the United States and Canada have also threatened sanctions, while the African Union and Côte d’Ivoire’s West African neighbours in the Ecowas bloc have demanded Gbagbo leave office.
Paris has urged Gbagbo to restrain his forces, and warned Licorne would protect France’s estimated 15 000 expatriate citizens in Ivory Coast, but Gbagbo shows no sign of being ready to step down.
Youth minister and “Street General” Charles Ble Goude, under UN sanctions for “acts of violence by street militias, including beatings, rapes and extrajudicial killings”, has vowed to fight for Côte d’Ivoire’s sovereignty.
The UN Security Council was to meet later Monday to discuss renewing the mandate of the ONUCI peacekeeping force, which is to expire on December 31.—AFP
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