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Côte d’Ivoire: Letter warns of attacks on UN

UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire investigating letter that warns of attacks

Human rights officials from the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) today began investigating the circulation of an anonymous letter that warns of attacks on villages in the so-called Zone of Confidence separating Government and rebel forces as well as other areas in this volatile West African nation.

UN Mission officials are concerned that the letter – which also is reportedly circulating in villages that lie in Government-controlled zones in the west of the country – could generate fear within the various communities and lead to inter-ethnic clashes, the Secretary-General’s spokesman said today.

Communal clashes, frequently preceded by rumours of attacks, have occurred before in the western part of Côte d’Ivoire, the UN Mission’s human rights division said. Human rights field officers from Daloa and Guiglo are jointly investigating the allegations.

Côte d’Ivoire was divided into a Government-ruled south and rebel-held north after the failure of an attempted coup against President Laurent 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 two areas in this nation, one of the world’s top cocoa producers.

Earlier this month, Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent the Government of President Gbagbo a bill for damage to UN offices that occurred during several days of political unrest last month.

The disturbances took place in the capital of Abidjan as well as Daloa, San Pedro, Guiglo and other parts of the country after a UN-authorized group recommended the effective disbanding of the National Assembly, whose mandate had expired.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, Pierre Schori, met today with former president Henri Konan Bédié, the leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), to keep the peace process moving ahead.

At the meeting in Daoukro, the two officials discussed the latest developments in the peace process, particularly the conclusions of the fourth ministerial-level meeting of the International Working Group held in Abidjan on Friday.

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