UN blames Gbagbo for surging Ivory Coast violence

Other News Materials 5 April 2011 01:48 (UTC +04:00)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday placed responsibility for the upsurge of violence in Ivory Coast squarely on the shoulders of President Laurent Gbagbo, who is clinging to power, dpa reported.

Ban warned that the civilian population was bearing the brunt of the fighting.

"This is a direct consequence of Mr (Laurent) Gbagbo's refusal to relinquish power and allow a peaceful transition to President Alassane Ouattara," Ban said in a statement.

Ouattara's forces were closing in on Abidjan to try to oust Gbagbo, who lost the November presidential elections to Ouattara, but has so far refused to cede power to him.

Ban said Gbagbo's forces have "intensified and escalated" the use of heavy weapons such as mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns against the civilian population in Abidjan.

The headquarters of the UN mission in Ivory Coast (UNOCI) at Sebroko Hotel in Abidjan has come under heavy-caliber sniper fire, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, wounding four peacekeepers, Ban said.

Ban said UNOCI is not a party to the conflict, but was carrying out its mission to protect civilians. He said the peacekeepers have received orders to prevent Gbagbo's forces from using heavy weapons against the civilians.