The United Nations Security Council today froze the foreign assets and barred the travel of Ivory Coast’s incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo, his wife and three top aides, and said he should give up his fight for the presidency of the world’s leading cocoa producer.
The UN’s principal policy-making panel voted 15-0 to adopt a resolution that condemns Gbagbo’s refusal to accept the African Union’s declaration that Alassane Ouattara is the lawful winner of the Nov. 28 presidential election. The text, drafted by France and Nigeria, demands an immediate end to attacks on civilians, calls on UN peacekeepers to “use all necessary means” to protect them, and tells security forces to recognize Ouattara’s authority.
“Gbagbo must go,” French Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters after the vote. “It is the only way to avoid a full- fledged civil war and maybe bloody violence in the streets of Abidjan.”
The vote came amid reports that rebel fighters loyal to Ouattara took control of the capital, Yamoussoukro, and moved close to the commercial center Abidjan. They have advanced “much more rapidly than expected” and security forces loyal to Gbagbo aren’t fighting back, Young-jin Choi, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission, said in an interview with CNN.
North, South Divide
Ivory Coast has been divided between a government- controlled south and a rebel-held north since a 2002 uprising of army soldiers. The insurgents back Ouattara while Gbagbo, who has led the West African nation for the past decade, refuses to cede power, alleging voter fraud in parts of the north. The UN has 9,000 soldiers and civilian police there.
“Post-election violence which claimed 830 lives has disfigured our country,’ Ivory Coast’s Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba said. “Today it appears necessary to put an end to the cycle of violence and to call time on impunity in Ivory Coast.
“Ivorians want to re-establish peace and respect for human life,” Bamba said. “The very painful sacrifices experienced by our brave population during the post-election crisis are but a reflection of the deep yearning for the emergence of democracy.”
Cocoa fell to a 10-week low. Cocoa for May delivery slid $70, or 2.3 percent, to $2,987 a metric ton on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. Earlier, the price touched $2,973, the lowest since Jan. 14.
Ivory Coast’s defaulted Eurobonds surged to the highest in three months. The $2.3 billion bonds due 2032 advanced 6.2 percent to 42.357 cents on the dollar, the highest price since Jan. 4, as of 4:30 p.m. in London, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The yield fell 45 basis points to 8.141 percent.
The UN resolution targets Gbagbo, his wife, Simone, and top aides Desire Tagro, Alcide Djedje and Pascal Affi N’Guessan. The U.S. Treasury Department barred Americans from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the same five people in January.
The text asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to transmit the report of a UN-mandated investigation of alleged human rights abuses to the Security Council and “other relevant international organizations” such as the International Criminal Court.
“This resolution sends a strong signal that Mr. Gbagbo and his followers should immediately reject violence and respect the will of the Ivorian people,” U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said. Gbagbo’s adherence to it would allow Ivory Coast’s citizens to “reclaim their country and rebuild a vibrant economy that was once the admiration of all of Africa,” she said.
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