WEST AFRICA/COTE D'IVOIRE: Cote d'Ivoire's Gbagbo Readying Rockets, Helicopter – UN

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Nigeria Daily News
Western Africa
Ivory Coast
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Peace Processes

Women urge ECOWAS leaders to stop crisis in Cote d'lvoire

The UN peacekeeping mission to Cote d'Ivoire have indicated that Laurent Gbagbo's forces were readying an attack helicopter and multiple rocket launchers on Tuesday.

The Mission condemned the growing use of heavy weapons against civilians.

Its statement came as Gbagbo's rival Alassane Ouattara scolded the mission for not doing enough to protect civilians, saying Gbagbo's security forces had killed 832 people since a contested November election in the world's top cocoa grower.

Gbagbo's spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

The UN mission said Gbagbo's men were repairing an MI-24 attack helicopter and readying BM21 multiple rocket launchers.

“ONUCI (the UN mission) is closely monitoring these heavy weapons which pose a grave threat to the civilian population.

The mission did not say what action.

At least 25 people were killed and more than 60 wounded when pro-Gbagbo forces fired a series of mortar rounds into Abidjan's Northern Abobo district last Thursday, including one that exploded in a busy marketplace, the UN mission has said.

Gbagbo's camp has denied being behind the attack.

Ouattara's forces have also been accused of killing some civilians, as well as executing pro-Gbagbo soldiers.

The UN figure for confirmed deaths from both camps since the crisis is around 400 Ivorians.

“ONUCI are engaging all they have to protect civilians. Thousands of youth supporters of Gbagbo answered a call to join the army this week, adding to fears that the violent power struggle risks sending the country back to civil war.

Women urge ECOWAS leaders to stop crisis in Cote d'lvoire

In another development in Abuja Nigeria Women from different West African countries on Tuesday in Abuja urged ECOWAS Heads of State to take steps to stop the escalation of the Ivorian conflict.

Mrs Leymay Gbowee, Executive Director, Women Peace and Security Network Africa, told newsmen that different women groups had gathered to advocate for an immediate intervention by the heads of government.

“The women's statement to the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government is simple: Do not allow Cote d'lvoire drop off attention of the West Africans as other areas of the world heat up.

ECOWAS should take a more decisive stance in intervening in the situation in Cote d'lvoire.

The Women groups include Women Peace and Security Network (WIPSEN) Africa, West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) and the West African Women's Associations.