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Defying Gbagbo, UN extends peacekeeping mandate

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-12-21

The UN Security Council extended its peacekeeping mandate in Ivory Coast for an additional six months on Monday in a challenge to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who has ordered the UN to leave amid a power struggle over the presidency.

REUTERS - The Security Council on Monday extended the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast for six months, in a challenge to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who has said it should leave.

Gbagbo last week ordered out the 10,000-member force after the United Nations said he had lost a Nov. 28 presidential election to challenger Alassane Ouattara and should step down -- which he has refused to do.
 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said the force will continue operations, but with Gbagbo apparently continuing to command the loyalty of Ivory Coast's army, some analysts have questioned the future of the U.N. mission, known as UNOCI.
 
The Security Council meeting that adopted the resolution extending the mandate was delayed while council members heard a briefing on the Ivory Coast situation, which diplomats said Russia had requested. The diplomats said Russia had earlier suggested postponing the vote, but other countries disagreed.
 
Since the election, UNOCI has protected a hotel in the main city Abidjan, where Ouattara has set up his headquarters.
 
In line with a Security Council statement last week, Monday's resolution, adopted unanimously, called on Ivorian parties to respect a declaration by West African regional bloc ECOWAS recognizing Ouattara as the winner.
 
Ouattara had been proclaimed the victor by the country's independent electoral commission, but the pro-Gbagbo Constitutional Council overturned that U.N.-certified result and said Gbagbo had won.
 
Council diplomats have said privately that they believe Gbagbo has no legal authority to order U.N. troops out of the country since he lost the election in their view.
 
The Security Council resolution asked UNOCI "to support, in coordination with the Ivorian authorities, the provision of security for the government and key political stakeholders."
 
The United Nations considers Ouattara's government legitimate but it was not clear that the resolution was providing the interventionist mandate in support of Ouattara that his camp has been requesting.
 
The resolution also renewed authorization for a 900-member French force that supports UNOCI.
 

Date created : 2010-12-20

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