UN security council gives vote warning

2010-12-03 09:05

The UN Security Council yesterday warned it would take action against anyone who obstructs Ivory Coast’s presidential election process as tensions mounted in the West African nation.

The vow of “appropriate measures” – a veiled threat of sanctions – was made after urgent consultations by the 15-nation body on Ivory Coast as the electoral commission said incumbent Laurent Gbagbo lost Sunday’s presidential runoff to Alassane Ouattara.

The delayed provisional results were only announced by Ivory Coast’s Independent Electoral Council as the UN body met in New York.

Eight people were killed in shooting outside an office of Ouattara’s followers in Abidjan, the main city, on Wednesday night.

And fears of unrest were heightened when the Constitutional Council, which is run by a Gbagbo ally, later rejected the results and the army sealed the country’s frontiers.

Security Council members “reiterated their readiness to take the appropriate measures against those who obstruct the electoral process,” said a statement read by US ambassador Susan Rice, the council president for December.

“The members of the Security Council reminded the leaders that they bear primary responsibility for ensuring a peaceful process and called upon them to exercise restraint,” added the statement.

It said the rival leaders must not interfere in the work of the electoral commission and must “honour their commitments to respect the results, address their complaints through the legal procedures and resolve their differences peacefully”.

The statement noted that the UN office in Ivory Coast had indicated that the runoff was “conducted in a democratic climate”.

The Security Council expressed concern about election violence in Ivory Coast in a November 24 resolution which authorized the temporary transfer of 500 peacekeepers from Liberia to Ivory Coast for Sunday’s second round vote.

There are currently nearly 9 000 troops and international police in the UN mission in Ivory Coast, where peacekeepers were sent after a 2002 civil war left the country split in two. The Security Council is to renew the mission’s mandate in December.

In a separate statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the Security Council in welcoming the release of the electoral commissions results and warning the rival leaders.

He called on all parties “to exercise patience and to refrain from any violence or action that may disrupt the successful conclusion of this electoral process,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“The secretary-general stresses that all parties and leaders would bear the responsibility for any violent actions of their supporters,” the statement added.

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