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Côte d’Ivoire: Annan demands end, anti-UN protests

Annan demands end to anti-UN protests in Côte d’Ivoire

A United Nations police office was firebombed in a Côte d’Ivoire’s San Pedro town and protesters gathered for a second day outside UN premises in the economic capital, Abidjan, prompting Secretary-General Kofi Annan today to demand an immediate halt to anti-UN violence in the divided West African country.

Through his spokesman, Mr. Annan condemned “the orchestrated violence directed against the United Nations, the population, as well as the inaction of some national authorities in responding to the situation,” noting that disturbances were taking place in the commercial centre Abidjan, as well as in Daloa, San Pedro, Guiglo and other parts of the country.

The UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) said firebombs thrown into the UN Police office in San Pedro had caused serious damage. Roadblocks throughout Abidjan prevented some UN personnel from getting to work.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and UNOCI head, Pierre Schori, met with President Laurent Gbagbo and expressed his concern over the security situation. The demonstrations were held despite Mr. Gbagbo’s ban on protests in Abidjan.

“The Secretary-General demands an immediate end to these attacks which contravene Ivorian law and seriously endanger the peace process as set out by the African Union and the Security Council,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement released in New York.

A UN-mandated International Working Group monitoring the post-civil war transition recommended over the weekend that the expired mandate of parliament not be renewed, effectively disbanding the body.

In accordance with decisions of the African Union (AU) that were later endorsed by the UN Security Council, extensive negotiations led to the appointment of banker Charles Konan Banny as prime minister. His transitional national-unity cabinet, which includes leaders of the armed and unarmed opposition, has taken over governance.

“The Secretary-General reminds all Ivorian leaders of their individual responsibility for acts of violence carried out by their supporters and for keeping the peace process on track. He calls on all Ivorian parties to fully cooperate with the Prime Minister, the Head of the UN Mission and the international community in working to implement the road map to bring an end to the crisis,” Mr. Dujarric said.

Côte d’Ivoire was divided into a Government-ruled south and rebel-held north after the failure of an attempted coup against Mr. Gbagbo in September 2002 triggered a civil war. UNOCI troops and UN-authorized French Licorne forces have been guarding the Zone of Confidence separating the former belligerents.

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