“It will be very difficult to find a common ground between the protagonists”. UN representative

Violence has escalated over the past couple of weeks in Côte d’Ivoire. Scenes of war have erupted in many neighbourhoods in Abidjan, where Gbogbo’s troops are loosing ground. As of the latest developments, the former rebel forces have announced that they are in control of Touleupleu, in the west of the country.

The truce is definitely broken with the rebels, an all the indicators seem to point toward the return of the war in the country.

Here are some abstracts from interviews from last week-end newspapers.

Choi Young-jin, UN representative in Abidjan, to Libération

Are we entering a new phase of conflict?
There is clearly an escalation of violence. Since February 19th, the incidents have become increasingly serious. Electricity has been cut in the North by Laurent Gbagbo, opposition newspapers have been forced to suspend publication in Abidjan … Our peacekeepers now face direct fire. And in Daloa, the homes of twenty of our employees have been sacked. For the first time in seven years, fighting took place between soldiers in the west of the country.

But are you really able to fulfill your mandate?
Last week, we conducted 865 patrols, mainly in Abidjan. We continue to protect the Gulf Hotel, in which resides Alassane Ouattara. 800 of our men are permanently stationed there. Without our protection, he would be forced to settle in Bouake. It would sanction the division of the country and probably lead to the return to full-scale civil war.

After accusing Gbagbo of getting helicopter gunships sent from Belarus, the UN has backtracked. Have you found violations of the embargo?
Yes, and from the two sides. But it is small arms. It is difficult to control them, borders are very porous. But these violations do not involve material that could undermine the balance of power in the disfavour of the UN and the French Licorne force.

Would you say that you retain control of the sky?
Absolutely, and this is fundamental. Thus we can know what is happening in areas not easily accessible, as in the district of Abobo.

Is there still room for a political solution in Ivory Coast?
From the beginning, we found profound differences between the two parties. It will be very difficult to find common ground between the protagonists.

Some, including within the panel of African leaders called for a compromise, advocating for new elections …
The poll on November 28 has been exemplary, with 81% participation and no massive fraud, or major irregularities ! The results are irrefutable, and we have no guarantee that a new vote would be exemplary.

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