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U.N. Refuses Order to Leave Ivory Coast As Skirmishes Break Out

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

U.N. peacekeepers have refused an order from the embattled Laurent Gbagbo, out-voted candidate in recent national elections, to leave the country as a standoff between Gbagbo and the widely-accepted election winner, Alassane Ouattara, heats up.

From his headquarters in the National Palace, the former president is under a barrage of international criticism for refusing to accept defeat in the latest poll. Gbagbo who received fewer votes than this rival, accused the U.N.’s 10,000-member peacekeeping force of arming former rebel fighters, now loyal to Ouattara, of plotting against him. Recently, the U.N. Security Council voted to renew the force's mandate for six months, after hearing reports that Gbagbo's forces have been involved in "massive" human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Youth, Charles Ble Goude, has reportedly been touring run-down suburbs of the principal city, Abidjan, firing up crowds of youth with demands that Ivorians fight for their sovereignty. Commentaries from African writers were marked by dismay at another deadly ‘food fight’ between warring politicians. Charles Onyango-Obbo, writing in The East African of Kenya, observed: “Last week Ivory Coast took another step toward the grave, as the country moved closer to a return to civil war… The madness is likely to end in a bloodbath.”

“Cheating is nothing new,” declared writer Jenerali Ulimwengu of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “It’s this brazen nature of electoral rape that especially worries one.”

Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, wrote: “I join the many, led by the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union, who call on former President Gbagbo to step aside and respect the will of the people. They have chosen Alassane Ouattara and no repression, however brutal and long, can undo this decision nor Mr. Ouattara’s legitimacy. The international community has accepted Mr. Ouattara’s victory and encourages him in his quest to bring peace and reconciliation to Cote d’Ivoire.”

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