UN hears of Côte d’Ivoire atrocities

United Nations human rights officials said on Thursday that at least 173 people have been killed in Côte d’Ivoire in the past week, during the fragile West African state’s post-election crisis.

The report to the UN Human Rights Council came as Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo came under mounting pressure from world powers to step down.

UN staff have been able to confirm allegations of 173 killings and 90 cases of torture or ill treatment in Côte d’Ivoire in the past week, UN deputy human rights chief Kyung-wha Kang told ambassadors in Geneva.

“Unfortunately it has been impossible to investigate all the allegations of serious human rights violations, including reports of mass graves, due to restrictions on movement by UN personnel,” she added.

The report came as world powers turned the screw on the stubborn leader, demanding that Gbagbo step aside in favour of Alassane Ouattara, whom UN members have recognised as the winner of last month’s Ivorian election.


The United States and Nigeria brought a draft resolution before the UN Human Rights Council, meeting in Geneva, seeking to bolster their position before an important West African regional summit.

Stand-off
On Friday, Nigeria will host a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in Abuja, at which an appeal will be made for new troops to reinforce hard-pressed UN peacekeepers in Côte d’Ivoire.

But on the ground in Côte d’Ivoire, Gbagbo’s position remains strong.

The streets of Abidjan were crowded, with traffic jams snaking back into the suburbs as many private and government employees obeyed the regime’s call for them to return to work.

Ouattara’s shadow government remains trapped in the Golf Hotel, a luxury waterfront resort on the edge of the city protected by 800 UN troops and besieged by Gbagbo’s forces.

The incumbent Gbagbo and long-time rival Ouattara have been locked in a stand-off since the November 28 presidential election, which both claim to have won.

In Geneva, Nigeria, acting for the African group of nations, submitted a draft resolution that would place Côte d’Ivoire under international scrutiny.

It expressed deep concern “about the atrocities and violations of human rights committed in Côte d’Ivoire in relation to the conclusion of the 2010 presidential election” and called for the election results to be respected.

The United Nations gave Ouattara’s beleaguered shadow government a boost on Wednesday when it recognised his nominee for ambassador to the body, the latest in a string of measures to pressure Gbagbo.

International support
World Bank president Robert Zoellick said in Paris that he had agreed with the leaders of Côte d’Ivoire’s partners in the West African economic and monetary union that Abidjan be cut off from international funding.

“They are also convening a meeting of ministers this week to affirm and strengthen this approach,” he said of the West Africans, after holding talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The United States has said it was seeking to muster African troops to support the 9 000-strong UN mission, which Gbagbo has demanded leave the country but is holding on in the face of harassment.

Ouattara’s camp has welcomed international support, but his would-be prime minister, former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, has demanded military action and international prosecutions for rights abuses.

“After all the international pressure and the sanctions which did not have any effect on Mr Gbagbo, it’s obvious that only one solution remains, that of force,” Soro said on Wednesday.

Gbagbo, meanwhile, has deployed his armed forces to put down pro-Ouattara protests and to bottle up his adversary in the Golf Hotel. He remains defiant, declaring that his battle to hang on is a fight for Africa’s freedom.

“We are strong, we are resisting, we are brave,” he told African youth leaders. “It’s a combat to lead, it’s an indispensable struggle, it’s the route we must take so that tomorrow you will be free.” — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Editorial: Cyril must embrace his AU role

There are several African conflicts that require urgent attention

The European companies that armed the Ivorian civil war

AN OCCRP investigation reveals that Gunvor and Semlex brokered weapons-for-oil deals in early 2011 when Côte d’Ivoire was in crisis, despite a UN arms embargo

The October election season: Guinea, Tanzania and Cote D’Ivoire head to the polls

October is election month as three presidents seek another term in office. For two, it will be their third

We should not ignore Guinea’s constitutional coup

Citizens have for a year protested against the president seeking a third term in office despite a two-term limit. Many have been killed — and 90 more people died in this week’s crackdown

Manifesto against the presidency for life in Africa

If we do not take care, presidents will make lawlessness the standard of our civic life. Let’s make sure it does not come to that!

Yes, Cote D’Ivoire’s president is running for a third term. But this time it’s different

COMMENT: A senior Ivorian government official argues that President Alassane Ouattara is within his rights to run again
Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

Shabnim Ismail bowls her way into the record books Down...

The night before Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, fiery South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail lay awake pondering how...

Hawks make arrest in matric maths paper leak

Themba Daniel Shikwambana, who works at a printing company, was granted bail and is due to return to court in January

Andile Lungisa: Early parole for the house of truth

Disgraced Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa calls for a change of leadership in the ANC immediately after being released on parole

War of words at Zondo commission: ‘Grow up Mr Gordhan,...

The cross-examination of the public enterprises minister by Tom Moyane’s lawyers at the state capture inquiry went on well into overtime on Monday evening
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…