Ivory Coast's Gbagbo Threatens International Journalists In Wake Of Reports Of 'Heavy Weapons' Being Used On Civilians
The UN has issued a warning: As the world focuses on Libya and Japan, UN aid agencies are warning that Ivory Coast is rapidly becoming a forgotten humanitarian catastrophe.
Laurent Gbagbo, the sitting president of the4 Ivory Coast is now warning international reporters that they will be treated as terrorist accomplices if they don't write what he approves of:
The Ivorian leader refusing to cede power has warned international journalists that they would be considered accomplices to terrorists if they don't do a more balanced job of reporting the country's political crisis.
In a statement read on state television, Ahoua Don Mello, a spokesman for sitting president Laurent Gbagbo, accused journalists of fabricating last week's shelling of civilians in an Abidjan neighborhood. The United Nations said the attack could constitute a crime against humanity.
Gbagbo also accused the media of refusing to report atrocities committed by forces loyal to his opponent, Alassane Ouattara, in the country's West.
He warned the press that if they didn't do a better job of reporting, they would be dealt with like the U.N. peacekeepers, who have been repeatedly attacked by pro-Gbagbo mobs.
If there's ever a humanitarian need for help in the world, I'd say the Ivory Coast should be at the top of the list at least:
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast says it is concerned that heavy weapons could be used against civilians as rival presidents struggle for power. In a statement Tuesday, the mission said forces loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo are repairing an attack helicopter and preparing multiple rocket launchers for use. The mission called the weapons "a grave threat to the civilian population" and warned Gbagbo forces that the U.N. would act if such weapons are used.
Earlier, Ivory Coast's internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, called on the United Nations to authorize "legitimate force" to protect civilians. Mr. Gbagbo has resisted calls to relinquish power to Mr. Ouattara, who the United Nations and African Union back as the winner of a November president poll.
Since the election, supporters of the rival presidents have engaged in intense fighting, sparking fears that Ivory Coast may be on the brink of a civil war. The U.N. says more than 435 people have been killed in post-election violence...read on
In December, the electorate commission said that Alassane Ouattara had beaten Gbagbo in the presidental runnoff.
The BBC's John James in the main city Abidjan says there will now be a tug of war between the two bodies with the outcome unclear. Supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo had tried to block the result, saying there had been fraud in the north. Former rebels control this area. It is also where Mr Ouattara is most popular.
The election is intended to reunify the world's largest cocoa producer. The announcement of the result of Sunday's run-off had been much delayed, leading to heightened tension in the country. The electoral commission head, Youssouf Bakayoko, said Mr Ouattara had won 54% of the vote, compared to 46% for Mr Gbagbo. He was speaking under armed guard at a hotel, rather than from the commission's headquarters.
About the same time the head of the Constitutional Council, Paul Yao N'Dre, who is seen as being close to Mr Gbagbo, said it was taking over the declaration from the election commission.
"Because of disagreements on the results of some regions, the independent electoral commission wasn't able to give the provisional results.
Is it any wonder people are trying to get out of there alive?
The International Office for Migration [IOM] is helping the displaced find safe haven. Spokesperson Jemini Pandya says, “There’s been very large-scale displacement within Abidjan since fighting really increased a few weeks ago. It’s extremely difficult to be able to go and assess the real scale of the displacement because the security conditions are too bad and also because of the targeting of humanitarian aid workers.”