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UN warns against any attack on Ivory Coast hotel

 UN peace keeper patrol vehicles secure an area in a highly visible presence in Abidjan, Ivory coast on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, amid concerns of esc...
 UN peace keeper troops patrol vehicles move along a street in Abidjan, Ivory coast on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, amid concerns of escalating post-elec...
 UN peace keeper patrol vehicles move along a street in Abidjan, Ivory coast on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, amid concerns of escalating post-election vi...
 A man ride on bicycle past a UN Soldier standing Guard outside the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Ouattara is widely regarded as bei...
 A UN Soldier from Pakistan, stands guard outside the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010.  Opposition leader Alassane Ouattar...
 Alassane Ouattara, centre, opposition leader greets supporters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010.  Ouattara is widely regarded as being...
 Alassane Ouattara, centre, opposition leader acknowledges supporters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010.  Ouattara is widely regarded as...
 Alassane Ouattara, right, opposition leader greets supporters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010.  Ouattara is widely regarded as being ...

Ivory Coast

UN peace keeper patrol vehicles secure an area in a highly visible presence in Abidjan, Ivory coast on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, amid concerns of esc...

Ivory Coast

UN peace keeper troops patrol vehicles move along a street in Abidjan, Ivory coast on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, amid concerns of escalating post-elec...

Ivory Coast

UN peace keeper patrol vehicles move along a street in Abidjan, Ivory coast on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, amid concerns of escalating post-election vi...

Ivory Coast

A man ride on bicycle past a UN Soldier standing Guard outside the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Ouattara is widely regarded as bei...

Ivory Coast

A UN Soldier from Pakistan, stands guard outside the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Opposition leader Alassane Ouattar...

Ivory Coast

Alassane Ouattara, centre, opposition leader greets supporters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Ouattara is widely regarded as being...

Ivory Coast

Alassane Ouattara, centre, opposition leader acknowledges supporters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Ouattara is widely regarded as...

Ivory Coast

Alassane Ouattara, right, opposition leader greets supporters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010. Ouattara is widely regarded as being ...

The United Nations is warning supporters of incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo that an attack on the hotel where the internationally recognized winner of last month's election is based could re-ignite civil war.
A pro-Gbagbo youth leader has said that Alassane Ouattara and his supporters have until Saturday to "pack up their bags" and leave the hotel where they are being guarded by some 800 U.N. peacekeepers and hundreds of rebels loyal to Ouattara.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is "deeply alarmed" by the youth leader's comments.
Ban said Thursday that an attack on the hotel could provoke widespread violence, which could re-ignite civil war in the West African country divided in two by the 2002-2003 civil war. Ban called on Gbagbo supporters to "refrain from such dangerous irresponsible action," Nesirky said.
The youth leader, Charles Ble Goude, is known as the "street general" for organizing a violent anti-French and anti-U.N. gang that terrorized the foreign population in Ivory Coast in 2004-2005.
Under a peace deal after the war, the U.N. was tasked with certifying the results of the Nov. 28 presidential runoff vote. The U.N. declared Ouattara the winner, echoing the country's own electoral commission chief. Gbagbo insists he won, pointing out that the Ivory Coast constitutional council declared him the winner. The council, which is led by a Gbagbo ally, did so after invalidating half a million ballots from Ouattara strongholds in the north.
The United States and other world powers have insisted Gbagbo hand over power to Ouattara, but the dispute has now lasted more than a month. For many, the credibility of the international community is at stake if it is unable to ensure that Ouattara takes power.
Chaos in Ivory Coast already has kept Gbagbo in power five years beyond his mandate in Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer that was once a West African economic powerhouse. The country's long-delayed presidential election was finally held in October was intended to help reunify the country, which had been split into a rebel-controlled north and a loyalist south.
Instead, the vote and a runoff held last month have renewed divisions that threaten to plunge the country back into civil war. While Ivory Coast was officially reunited in a 2007 peace deal, Ouattara still draws his support from the northern half of the country, where residents feel they are often treated as foreigners within their own country by southerners.
Human rights groups have warned that security forces loyal to Gbagbo have been abducting political opponents since the disputed runoff vote. The United Nations believes up to 80 bodies may be inside a building nestled among shacks in a pro-Gbagbo neighborhood on the outskirts of Abidjan.
Investigators have tried to go there several times, and even made it as far as the building's front door before truckloads of men with guns showed up and forced them to leave.
Simon Munzu, the head of the U.N. human rights division, urged security forces Thursday to allow investigators inside. Gbagbo's government has repeatedly denied the existence of mass graves.
A second mass burial site is believed to be located near Gagnoa in the interior of the country, the U.N. said. Those suspected victims are in addition to the 173 deaths already confirmed by the U.N. Gbagbo's allies say that several dozen of them are police or security forces who were killed by protesters.
The reports of mass graves raise new concerns about human rights abuses as Ivory Coast's neighbors discuss how to remove Gbagbo from power. Regional leaders are due to return to Ivory Coast on Monday after this week's high-level delegation failed to persuade Gbagbo to step down.
ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, had threatened to consider military force, and defense officials from the member states met Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria, where the bloc is based. However, the regional bloc is now giving negotiations more time.
Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said Friday that the U.K. would support a United Nations-sanctioned military intervention by Ivory Coast's neighbors if negotiations fail to persuade Gbagbo to hand over power.
Hague said Britain had sent a military liaison officer to the region to work on contingency planning with French forces, but ruled out sending troops. "I'm not raising the possibility today of British forces being deployed," he said.
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Associated Press writers Anita Snow at the United Nations, David Stringer in London and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-11 15:26 GMT+08:00