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Gbagbo army accuses UN for protests

16 December 2010, 10:15

Abidjan - Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo's army on Wednesday accused a United Nations envoy of backing protest marches planned in Abidjan and said he would be held responsible if violence erupts.

In a statement on state television, military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Hilaire Babri-Gouhourou claimed UN special envoy Choi Young-jin had given his support to two marches planned by supporters of Gbagbo rival Alassane Ouattara.

"General Philippe Mangou, chief of army staff and head of all defence and security forces, holds Mr Choi responsible for the unpredictable consequences that could result from these planned actions," the officer said.

Both Gbagbo and Ouattara claim to have won last month's election in the Ivory Coast, and both have declared themselves president, although Gbagbo controls the ministries and the official state armed forces.

Ouattara has been recognised as president by the international community, including by the UN mission in Ivory Coast, which is led by Choi, the special representative of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Babri-Gouhourou said the army has evidence Choi gave his support to protest marches planned by Ouattara's supporters for Thursday and Friday and aimed at seizing control of state television and then the prime minister's office.

"It should be said clearly, these marches characterised by force and hence threats to public order have no other purpose than to oppose innocent citizens against the regular public security forces," the military spokesperson said.

He accused the Ouattara camp of seeking to provoke violence between marchers and the security forces and urged Ivorians and "all those living on national territory" to withdraw from "such perilous undertakings".



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