- April 5th, 2011
- Posted by EUEditor
French troops sent to the West African state of Cote dâ€™Ivoire â€“ Ivory Coast â€“ have secured the airport at Abidjan and are helping with security patrols by the United Nations.
The city, the countryâ€™s commercial capital, is braced for open warfare in the latest stage of the political crisis that began with national elections last November.
MORE PEOPLE MOVING OUT
International agencies and overseas governments have credited the opposition leader, Alassane Ouattara, with winning the poll, but the incumbent President, Laurent Gbagbo, has refused to leave office â€“ in a stand-off overlaid with tribal and other longer-term divisions.
Thousands of foreigners and citizens have left the country, though some 12000 French and other outsiders are believed to be still there, mostly at the national airport, in embassy compounds or at safe areas set up by the French army.
The country of over 20-million people enjoyed peace and a modest prosperity for nearly 40 years after independence in 1960, but later endured a military coup dâ€™etat, and civil war, before its latest attempt at democratic elections.
Fears arose of ongoing slaughter of civilians even reminiscent of the genocide in Ruanda, in 1994, after some 800 people were killed in a rural region of Ivory Coast.
Nothing definite has been established about the identity of the perpetrators.
United Nations forces are rather thin on the ground.
See also, EUAustralia Online, â€œCote dâ€™Ivoire â€¦â€, 5.1.11; â€œUN finds abuses in Cote dâ€™Ivoire stand-offâ€, 23.12.10.
The International Crisis Group at Brussels has summarised the situation as â€œmass killings and extreme violence unfolding in Abidjanâ€, and declared that the international community must â€œpull Cote dâ€™Ivoire from the abyssâ€.
The body set up to promote settlements in armed conflicts said both sides needed to accept a ceasefire; the former President, Gbagbo, should accept his defeat, and his adversary, Ouattara, whose forces have been gaining territory, should stop their military campaign and â€œshow respect for international humanitarian lawâ€¦â€.
â€œThey should understand that international support for Ouattaraâ€™s election victory, and his legitimacy, will quickly evaporate if their military becomes responsible for mass atrocity crimesâ€, it said.
It said also that countries committing troops to the UN in the area should accelerate the deployment; and international agencies — the West African Community (ECOWAS), African Union, and European Union, together with the United States â€“ should collectively get behind the UNÂ effort.
The Crisis Group draws in active intelligence gathering and research to put forward solutions, as when last week it set out the structure of a peace plan for Syria, see EUAustralia Online, â€œSyria: call for peace termsâ€, 31.3.11.
Global Herald, London, â€œCote dâ€™Ivoire: Civilians Seek Refuge in Abidjan Showdownâ€, 5.3.11. http://theglobalherald.com/cote-divoire-civilians-seek-refuge-in-abidjan-showdown/14513/, (5.4.11).
International Crisis Group, Brussels, (media release),”International Community Must Pull CÃ´te dâ€™Ivoire from the Abyss”, 3.4.11.
Michael Fitzpatrick, â€œFrench press review – 4 April 2011â€, RFI English, Paris, 4.3.11. http://www.english.rfi.fr/france/20110404-french-press-review-4-april-2011, (5.4.11).