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U.N. Mixes It Up in Ivory Coast, Showing New Muscle

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

The United Nations, which authorized French troops to attack the hideout of the former president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, shifted its role from peacekeeper to aggressor in that country’s deadly electoral dispute.

Former president Gbagbo who had refused to step down after a narrow defeat to Alassane Ouattara in a November poll, was arrested in a basement bunker with his wife and some staff. Incoming president Ouattara insisted that no French troops entered the basement hideout, although the U.N. acknowledged that it OK’d the military strikes on the president’s compound.

The U.N. intervention in the West African nation is being seen as an extension of the body’s previous green light to the use of force in Libya. A “humanitarian” bombing campaign was approved in that case to defend rebels opposed to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The action against Ivory Coast was supported by all the Security Council members including Russia and China, which in the past did not interfere in the domestic affairs of sovereign nations.

With Mr. Ouattara now the sole leader in charge of the country, observers question whether it will be enough to end the fighting. Ethnic violence has festered during the lengthy tug-of-war with Gbagbo, particularly in the west of the country, with hundreds of people killed as both sides in the conflict committed atrocities against civilians, aid groups say.

Meanwhile, in France, Gbagbo spokesman Alain Toussaint, accused French special forces of carrying out a coup in its former colony on behalf of Ouattara.

"It was a coup d'etat which had no other aim but to gain control of the resources of Ivory Coast," Toussaint told reporters in Paris.

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