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Fri Apr 18 12:34:24 SAST 2014

Ivory Coast conflict could spread

Sapa | 14 January, 2011 16:340 Comments
An Ivory Coast soldier stands guard during a rally held by Charles Ble Goude (unseen) leader of Ivory Coast's Young Patriots in Abidjan on December 29, 2010. Defiant Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo's most notorious lieutenant on Wednesday urged the strongman's diehard supporters to launch an unarmed assault on rival Alassane Ouattara's UN-defended base.
Image by: SIA KAMBOU

Sierra Leone Information Minister Ibrahim Ben Kargbo said instability in Ivory Coast could spread to surrounding countries, which thus had a stake in ensuring a peaceful end to the crisis.

Attempts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to mediate the Ivorian post-electoral crisis have so far failed and the regional bloc is now seeking assistance from members of the UN Security Council.

"The continuous state of instability in the Ivory Coast has the potential to spill over to neighbouring countries ... So it is in our interest as a sub-region to ensure a peaceful transition in the Ivory Coast," Kargbo told a weekly press briefing.

He noted Ivory Coast was also a member of the Mano River Union, which focuses on economic co-operation between member states and also includes Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The troubled west African region which has been plagued by civil conflict has often suffered as unrest in neighbouring countries spills over borders.

Liberia is already bearing the burden, with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reporting 600 refugees a day are crossing the border and there are now around 25,000 who have fled into the neighbouring country.

The UN announced on Thursday that 247 people had died in Ivory Coast since mid-December's election as Laurent Gbagbo refuses to stand down as president despite a vote which the Independent Electoral Commission, UN and most of the world said his rival Alassane Ouattara won.



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