Deadlock intensifies as rivals name their governments
Issued on: Modified:
Monday proved to be another day of political unrest in Ivory Coast as incumbent Laurent Gbagbo named his prime minister and challenger Alassane Ouattara announced his cabinet. Meanwhile, the EU announced possible targeted sanctions.
Ivory Coast woke up to another day of political unrest on Monday as rivals challenging Laurent Gbagbo's claim to the presidency declared they had designated their government’s prime minister and international mediators scrambled to find a solution to the impasse.
The United Nations said it was pulling hundreds of non-essential staff out of the country due to the volatile situation, as former South African President Thabo Mbeki ended an urgent mediation mission without any major announcement after talks with Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara. Both men continue to claim victory in last week’s run-off vote.
Gbagbo as well as Ouattara held inauguration ceremonies Saturday and presented their prime ministers. Ouattara’s team announced it had formed a new government with former Gbagbo prime minister and leader of the New Forces rebels, Guillaume Soro, at its helm.
Interviewed on French radio station Europe 1 Monday, Soro said he hoped that there would be a peaceful solution to the crisis. Asked whether he would be ready to reactivate his forces, which still control the north, to "unseat" Gbagbo, Soro replied: "If he pushes us to it, we'll have no other choice." But Soro insisted he was seeking a peaceful "transition of power."
Gbagbo, 65, has rejected international calls to cede power after the United Nations recognized Ouattara as the winner of the November 28 runoff with more than 54 percent of the vote.
A spokeswoman for Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, said Monday the bloc may consider targeted sanctions "against those who obstruct the peaceful transition and the election."
Gbagbo has been backed by the country’s Constitutional Commission, which declared the incumbent the winner of the election, annulling results in seven regions in Ouattara strongholds in the north.
Tensions have been high across the West African nation with reports of pro-Ouattara demonstrations breaking out in the northern regions and exchanges of gunfire in Abidjan.
After relative calm on Sunday, new incidents of violence were reported in Abidjan on Monday. Young Ouattara supporters burned tires in several districts of the city, including Adjame, Abobo, Treichville and Kumasi.
“The police dispersed the demonstrators with tear gas and pursued them into private homes,” a France 24 Observer in Abidjan said. A large plume of black smoke from the burning tires rose above the large market area in the shopping district of Adjame.
At least 17 people have been killed in post-election clashes and there are fears that spiraling violence could drag the country back into civil war.
A curfew was extended until Monday, December 13, and will be enforced from 10pm to 5am. The country’s borders – closed since Thursday- were reopened on Sunday night.
While airports, ports and airstrips were open on Monday, the army said security measures would be “reinforced.”
Limited information for Ivoirians
Ordinary Ivoirians were finding it difficult to get accurate information about the current political crisis, according to a doctor at a public hospital in Abidjan who declined to be named.
International news channels, including FRANCE 24, have been taken off the air, with only the pro-Gbagbo, state-controlled RTI (Radio-Télévision Ivoirienne) channel available on the airwaves, he added.
“The only information we are getting from the Ouattara camp is through loudspeakers installed at the Hotel du Golf [in Abidjan] where [Ouattara] has his headquarters,” said the doctor.
Once considered a beacon of West African stability and economic prosperity, Ivory Coast descended into a bloody civil war in 2002.
It was hoped the 2010 elections would bring stability to the cocoa-rich country and restart the Ivorian economy.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe